Jeru Tha Damaja conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Jeru Tha Damaja Interview

October 2004

MVRemix: Are there any updates with yourself and Afu-Ra or The Perverted Monks?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I don't even know what's going on with those guys. I don't even know who the Perverted Monks are. I know I started The Perverted Monks, but I didn't know there were actual members until recently. I have no idea. Like I said people want to do musical things, different things and that's cool. I bless it. Hopefully they're good, did you hear any of their stuff?

MVRemix: I haven't heard much about them recently. Afu-Ra's last album didn't really get much exposure and I haven't heard much since. What can you tell me about your new album ("Divine Design")?

Jeru Tha Damaja: My new album, to me basically I think it's dope Hip Hop. Unadulterated. So far from what's going on today. That's why I think it may be overlooked by certain people or people who want certain things. Or people who want me to do a song with Premier. They're not really listening to it for what it is. Beats, rhymes and that's it.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with the likes of DJ JS-1?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Mutual friends. We hooked up, he said "I want you to do this song." We did it and it was cool. I'm very open with working with people.

MVRemix: With regards to your record label (Ashenafi), how is that set up? Do you have many artists that are affiliated with you on there...

Jeru Tha Damaja: No. [chuckles] Basically I'm the only artist on my record label at this point in time. Right now I'm working to make it a positive thing as far as Jeru Tha Damaja's concerned. Whatever status or credentials I have to make it bigger and just take it from there. I'd like to make it something great where I can sign new artists and it'll be a good thing where they'll be able to eat. I can take care of them and we can take care of each other.

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight"?

Jeru Tha Damaja: If I could fight any celebrity... Man, I wouldn't fight any celebrity 'cause I'd kick all they asses. I'm a nice guy, I don't wanna be kickin' ass.

MVRemix: Have you seen the film "Baadasssss!"?

Jeru Tha Damaja: About Mario Van Peebles' pops?

MVRemix: Yeah...

Jeru Tha Damaja: No, I haven't...

MVRemix: Because basically that film inspired me to ask you... that film basically talks about Melvin Van Peebles' "Sweet Sweetback's Jeru Tha Damaja InterviewBaadasssss Song," which I don't know if you know much about...

Jeru Tha Damaja: Yeah, I know a lot about the actual movie.

MVRemix: Okay, how do you then feel about the fact that most of the people that pioneer things in a quality manner aren't showcased well enough and tend to be referenced as just names.

Jeru Tha Damaja: Wow, I live it.

MVRemix: Yeah that's what I was thinking. I knew nothing apart from Melvin's name until I saw "Baadasssss!"

Jeru Tha Damaja: I actually am cool with his son (Mario Van Peebles) and I played in a movie that those guys directed called "Gang In Blue." It's in your local video stores; if you go to Blockbuster, you can see it. I'm on the cover. [chuckles] That's how it is. If Dave Chapelle made a funny joke, his grandmother would have told him, "Whatever you do, if you black don't invent nothin'! Don't be the first to do shit." Nobody remembers the first, nobody remembers the true pioneer.

MVRemix: Precisely. Now I'd read you've written a couple of scripts yourself. What are they about?

Jeru Tha Damaja: All types of things. It's funny that you asked that because with me talking I was thinking about my script right now, I need to find it. I'm looking for it - I need to finish one of them up. It's about inner city life, but in a positive way. Not glorifying the stereotypes, but showing them because there's truth in any stereotype. It's my expression. I try to be as expressive as possible and try to do the best I can.

MVRemix: What music influenced you most as a writer, but not only that, also as a person?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Just pick any one of Curtis Mayfield's songs and wow, you can sum my life up with some Stevie Wonder songs. Definitely Curtis Mayfield because of things he talked about; "My Family Song, "Don't Call Me Nigger," there's just so many. "Mighty Mighty..." Just a slew of songs. They definitely influenced my outlook on life, just wanting to be a positive type of person using music. Those are the guys I try to be more like because Curtis was a guy who used his voice to say something. To take all the negatives and stereotypes of the ghetto and put them into a medium where people will understand, but still at the same time turning it into something positive because it's music and people love music. It makes you feel good.

MVRemix: Will you be voting in the next election?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Definitely, I might be out of the country, but if I am I'll definitely be taking an absentee ballot.

MVRemix: Who will you be voting for if you don't mind me asking?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Not George Bush.

MVRemix: Did you happen to see "Fahrenheit 9/11"?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I saw that the day it came out. I love Michael Moore anyway. I'm familiar with so many of his works; his books, his documentaries and so on. It is definitely a dope movie.

MVRemix: I know you're working on "Self Destruction Part II" (alongside KRS-One and Chuck D), are there any other guest appearances or collaborations we can look forward to?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Like I said, there's me and Lil' Dap. We have the B-Side to my new single. I don't know if you've heard it?

MVRemix: I've heard the one with "Rap Wars."

Jeru Tha Damaja: That's got the B-Side and boom, we're just working on some new stuff now. Getting stuff readied before we get on the road.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Yup, just everybody be yourself. Don't be enticed by the power of the ring. Love yourself and love your neighbours. Treat everyone accordingly and life will be good to you.

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