Skip to main content

"Walk into the darkness." - Jeru The Damaja LP Review, 1994, Melody Maker.

[Love the righteously combative Ed's note near the end of this. That's Simon Price. Best reviews editor I ever worked for. Later on, roundabout "Wrath Of The Math" I interviewed Jeru. One of the nastiest racist pricks I ever spoke to.] 



JERU THE DAMAJA
THE SUN RISES IN THE EAST 
ffrr
(Melody Maker, 6th June 1994) 
As the Guru once said, take a taste of the bass, put your perspective in place.
   I’d say the black “renegade” tradition that ran through Miles, freejazz , funk and dub had it’s last exponent with AR Kane. Laswell’s seam aside, in rock, black-avant is alive and well in the likes of God, Pram, Moonshake and 16/17 (none of whom are black), who reappropriate the lineage for their own far-out and fascinating ends. Hip hop and jungle are the terrains on which black (made) pop now maps out new noise. Listening to this and the Nas LP, I dry my eyes after Eric B & Rakim’s split and realise that hip-hop can still make most rock exploration sound tame and chickenshit by comparison. History needs to be rewritten.
   Jeru, fresh from guesting on the last two Gang Starr bibles, emerges on his own here, produced by Gan Starr, mixed by DJ Premier – and that should be all you need to know. The music is truly matchless, going beyond Cypress or Wu-Tang’s minimalism into something approaching the futher reaches of dub or Schooly D’s murderous stomp. Repetition like water torture makes tracks like “Mental Stamina” and “MY Mind Spray” into bodiless neon funk, hypnotic and chilling as a blues party on Pluto, till the cumulative effect detonates the brain. “Ain’t The Devil Happy?” has a string-flourish break as lush as Massive, but the cine-drone undertow and passages of Aphex-like windtunnel noise turn it into a raw, intimidating warning against gangsta mindlessness. It ends with a Satanic laugh faded into a black hole that scares me silly. “Come Clean” is my track of the year, no contest. Its clammy voodoo feel (the actual backing track is some looped African drum echoed over a fat slamming beat, AND THAT’S ALL) and impenetrable mystic lyrics are as far out as music could ever get: it recalls to me nobody more than Pram (“Watertoy”, maybe); I’d love to hear Rosie sing over this. On “Statik”, a simple old skool beat dispenses with samples and allows the static scratch of the vinyl to become the loop; natural distortion being woven in with the beat until every part of the needle-fluff and vinyl-scar becomes lodged in the mind. And the album ends.
   This album (13 tracks, a million ideas) is a reminder that pierced dicks and post-structural ponderings aren’t the only signifiers of unblinking experimentalism: B-Boys are still way ahead of most avant-popsters and noise-makers on the planet. Another step forward for hip-hop, a giant leap into the beyond for you lot (Excuse me, but who might “you lot” be? – Ed).
   Walk into the darkness.
NEIL KULKARNI 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

MANIC STREET PREACHERS, ASTORIA, LONDON, 1994, LIVE REVIEW, MELODY MAKER

(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…

BRITAIN SEE THYSELF PART II. A POST-REFERENDUM DIARY AND A HISTORY OF BRITISH SELF-PITY

Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …

WHY WE MUST BAN THIS UKULELE FILTH NOW

Top Eight Worse FUCKING Ukelele FUCKING Breathy-Voiced FUCKING Covers For FUCKING Adverts

I can't think of any more because I don't want my head to explode with rage.

1. Dogs Trust - 'I Only Want To Be With You
2. Renault Zoe - That's Entertainment
3. McDonalds - Rhythm Of The Night 
4. T-Mobile - Teenage Kicks
5. Lloyds Bank - Mad World 
6. Kia - Ever Fallen In Love 
7. John Lewis - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
8. Chanel No.5 - You're The One That I Want 


My uke-hate I think came to a peak with an ad from last year. I blamed Lily Allen for the mannered vocal unmanneredness, Mumford & Sons for the fucking ukeleles, David Cameron for the ideological basis for it all, but it was AXA Insurance I blamed for that appaling cover of 'Little Things Mean A Lot"  and they will therefore burn for all eternity in the skin-flaying flames of hell, alongside Dave, Lily and The Mumfucks. Artists (esp. Britschool-alumni-style priveliged CatPowerfan-feckers like …