Jeru Tha Damaja - Heroes 4 Hire      
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written by Andrew Lunny    
Strong legacy of previous work is pretty much the #1 cause of wack hip-hop albums nowadays. While no-one even notices new jacks dropping their LPs, everyone looks towards the Nas', the Wu-Tangs, and the Q-Tips to reclaim past glories. And while Jeru's new album is no 'Vivrant Thing,' its also no 'Wrath of the Math,' the excellent follow-up to the classic 'The Sun Rises In The East.' Ditching the Gang Starr foundation for his new Supahuman Click, which is apparently Jeru, female MC Miz Marvel (who has 3 mundane solo tracks on here) and maybe Group Home's Lil Dap (the less said about him the better).

Of course, ditching the Gang Starr foundation also means walking away from hip-hop music's Holy Grail: Primo beats. By far the biggest difference between this and Jeru's old classics is that the instrumentals are 100% handled by Jeru himself. While there's the entertaining opener 'Great Solar Stance,' there's a distinct lack of other fresh jawns on here. In fact, the majority of the album's production is fairly boring, with only a couple of okay skits breaking up the monotony.

Also, there's the problem of the "Supahuman Click" aka Miz Marvel, whose 3 solo tracks do little to improve the album. 'Verbal Battle,' 'Anotha Victim,' and the self-titled 'Miz Marvel are nothing exceptional at all. Further problems arise when you work out that Jeru's subject matter was always what made him great, and tracks such as the "clever" rhyme about nothing 'Seinfeld' and the tired 'Billie Jean (Safe Sex).' Honestly, when MCs start reusing concepts that weren't even that good when Michael Jackson did it originally, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

With that said, there are flashes of the old Jeru on some of the tracks. 'Renegade Slave' is probably the best track on this album by quite a bit, sampling an old Jeru sample which works on Jeru like the hook of 'Nas Is Like' did to 'Esco. 'Presha' is similarly conscious in topic, but the lazy delivery Jeru has on here undercuts how good it might be. 'What A Day,' an entertaining retakr of Ice Cube's 'It Was A Good Day' is also one of the gems here.

Maybe I'm just disappointed because of how good Jeru's last 2 albums were, but to be honest I'd expect more from an MC of such high caliber. Maybe the lack of Primo beats left him less than inspired, maybe its the fact that Miz Marvel is not a good MC, or maybe its just that tha Damaja fell off, but this is a sharp drop from his other work. Still, the few glimpses of greatness make this an album at least worth checking for, if not rushing to the store to buy. Like the mark says, 'Heroes 4 Hire' is an above average hip-hop album, but its really just a bad Jeru Tha Damaja album.

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