Gangstarr legend still touring and telling it like it is
Who: Jeru The Damaja
When: Sunday, Nov. 23
They call him The Damaja because Jeru Davis has always been able to do serious damage to the mic. Its been that way since the early days in the burgeoning Brooklyn hip-hop scene, through his years with iconic rap trio Gangstarr in the late 80s and early 90s and continuing with his solo projects, the latest of which, Divine Design, was released this past September.
A hip-hop legend, he continues to record and tour, making his debut performance in Whistler this Sunday night at Garfinkels. Lining up to rhyme/spin with The Damaja are straight outta Enfield, Nova Scotias Classified, indie producer D.L. Incognito, Vancouvers Langdon Auger, and locals Mat the Alien & DJ Rosco.
Any New York rap figure has an undeniable mystique. But when Pique caught up with The Damaja before he set out on tour, the untouchable rhyme-god crumbled away. In its place was a citizen of earth who strives to keep learning and writing, to speak the truth through conscious hip-hop grooves, to watch lots of kung fu movies, and to fix his own car.
Pique: What keeps you touring instead of just hiding out in the studio?
JERU THE DAMAJA: I love to do shows. To me, thats the most important part of being an MC interacting with the crowd. Thats what keeps me inspired to create the types of records I create. It makes it fun. It makes it worthwhile.
Pique: Youve watched hip-hop change and youve been a part of the changes. Where do you think hip-hop is going?
JTD: I think hip-hop is going wherever people take it. Hip-Hop doesnt really have a shape. It can be or do or go wherever people take it; the audience, the performers. The possibilities are endless.
Pique: Do you think the mainstream success of hip-hop has tried to give it a shape?
JTD: No, not really. Mainstream success contributes to its formlessness. You have people in Poland that are into hip-hop. Slovenia, Slovakia, places youve never even heard of. That just adds to its formlessness because you dont know what theyre gonna do with it. You dont know how theyre going to interpret hip-hop.
Pique: Youve worked with people all over the world: Groove Armada in the U.K., Doudou Masta in France, DJ Honda in Japan , skateboard icon Chad Muska in Cali. Is this global versatility something youve developed or something youve had all along?