With an insurmountable hustle evinced year-after-year throughout his beastly barrel of mixtapes, Harlem’s elite emcee, rapper-actor, Dave East, releases his long-anticipated debut studio album, Survival, and we’re smug to say – it’s nothing but the hip hop benefaction we’ve been waiting for.

Survival, the same-title album as his upcoming five-part Netflix documentary, Survival Seriessees an unshakeable East face-to-face with his many confronting chapters in the come-up to success, everywhere from the streets (“They Wanna Kill You“), homelessness (“Need a Sign“), and resisting temptation (“Devil Eyes“), to finally making it (“Mama I Made It“), and staying grounded by his source of inspiration, Kairi Chanel Brewster, his two-year old daughter (“Daddy Knows“).

In a recent interview with Big Boy TV, on why his debut album is called SurvivalDave East reveals, he spent five long years making music and didn’t make “a single dollar,” until his 2014 mixtape Black Rose caught the attention of the one-and-only, hip hop icon, Nas, who soon signed East to his label Mass Appeal Records.

Now, the 31-year-old Mass Appeal / Def Jam artist proves his astounding influence, from Survival to the big screen. Survival features an A1 artist roll: DJ Premier, J. Black, Nas, The Soul Rebels, Teyana Taylor, Rick Ross, The-Dream, Fabolous, Jacquees, Gunna, E-40, Mozzy, Lil Baby, Max B, DJ Clue, Ash Leone, Mad Rapper, and Snoop Dogg (in a special tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle).

Listen now below.

– Although an obscure and often forgotten figure in hip-hop, Jeru the Damaja slated himself as a major contributor to the culture with the release of his debut album, The Sun Rises in the East.

Jeru the Damaja, born in Brooklyn, NY, began fine tuning his rhyming skills at local block parties as a youngster. In 1992, he connected with his high school friends DJ Premier and Guru of Gang Starr on “I’m the Man” from their album The Operation. Over the years, Jeru the Damaja continued to collaborate extensively with the duo.

Jeru The Damaja Releases Classic Hip-Hop Album
‘The Sun Rises in the East’

On this day, May 24th, in 1994, Jeru the Damaja released his debut album, The Sun Rises in the East, produced by none other than DJ Premier. This album is often regarded as Jeru the Damaja’s best work and was influential in reviving the East Coast hip-hop scene in the midst of West Coast gangster rap’s booming growth. It did this alongside early 90’s releases from other legendary artists such as Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) – 1993), Black Moon (Enta Da Stage – 1993), and Nas (Illmatic – 1994).

The Sun Rises in the East received mostly positive reviews for a number of reasons. For one, this album was the first non-Gang Starr project fully produced by DJ Premier and he doesn’t disappoint. DJ Premier provides some funky vibes with the help of some well-placed samples, perfect scratching and mixing, and the gritty backbeats that bring NY hip-hop to life. The young Jeru the Damaja then matches DJ Premier’s greatness with exceptional, yet organic, lyricism, delivery, and flow. He also does this while highlighting the struggles of inner city life on tracks like “Ain’t the Devil Happy” or the fear of hip hop’s rise on “Jungle Music”. Jeru even took a bit of criticism from the Fugees for his track “Da Bichez”, despite dropping the line, “I’m not talkin’ ’bout the queens…not the sisters…not the young ladies,”.

Take this time to reminisce on some “Golden Era hip-hop”, and, if this project is new to you, go ahead check it now. Jeru the Damaja was far ahead of his time with topics including the denigration of “melanated people” or people with melanin – a term that has become strongly popularized in recent years. That being said, you’re bound to discover something new despite The Sun Rises in the East being 23 years old.

 

Written by DJ Robinson

On May 19th, 1993, Guru of Gang Starr released his cult-classic debut solo album, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1, to kick off his 4-volume Jazzmatazz album series.

Guru (A.K.A Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) is best known as the lyrical half of the hip-hop duo, Gang Starr, along with DJ/producer DJ Premier. Growing up in a socially conscious and well-educated 2-parent household allowed him to form knowledgeable views about important issues at a young age – which shows in his music. However, after forming Gang Starr back in 1987 and releasing 3 albums with the group, Guru released his first solo album and showcased his deep passion for jazz music even more than he’d done on previous projects.

On this day back in 1993, Guru solidified his place as an early pioneer in the “Jazz Rap” genre when he dropped his debut solo album, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1. This album was one of the first to mesh hip-hop production and rapping with a live jazz band. It was also the first album that featured such established rappers and jazz musicians – many of which Guru idolized as a youngster thanks to his grandparents’ influence. The live backing is provided by a band that includes trumpeter Donald Byrd, vibraphonist Roy Ayers, guitarist Ronny Jordan, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith. The album also includes vocal collaborations with Carleen Anderson, N’Dea Davenport (of the Brand New Heavies), Dee C. Lee, and French rapper MC Solaar.

Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 peaked at #24 and #91 on Billboard’s “Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums” and “Top 200 Albums” charts respectively. And, although sales were lackluster in American markets, the album was a huge hit in Europe where jazz music was significantly more prominent in the 1990s. However, even with more positive reviews coming from overseas initially, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol.1 has since been praised for its groundbreaking techniques and influence on hip-hop culture.

The album is undoubtedly a timeless work of art as it bridges two genres of music that are extremely significant to Black American culture. Furthermore, it bridges a generational gap by taking the more mature jazz genre and introducing it to the newer and fresher hip-hop genre. The assortment of profound artists on each track gave the album a dynamic and eclectic vibe resulting in a project that felt very much like a jazz album.

So, despite its relative obscurity to mainstream hip-hop lovers, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol.1 deserves supreme recognition for the simple fact that it has inspired so many of today’s most talented artists (even if it was done indirectly).

R.I.P Guru

Written by DJ Robinson