September 7, 2008

Jeru the Damaja Presents Supahuman Klik - Heroz4Hire (September 7, 1999)


Jeru the Damaja's second solo album, Wrath Of The Math, was met with critical acclaim but, ultimately, poorer sales figures than his classic (yeah, I said it) debut, The Sun Rises In The East, which is ironic, as Wrath Of The Math contained Jeru's most blatant stab at radio and MTV airplay ever with "Ya Playin' Yaself", a song that still worked, despite itself. However, after recording that disc, Jeru and his main producer, DJ Premier of Gangstarr and founding member of the Gangstarr Foundation, had a falling out: details floating around on the Interweb describe everything from financial fuckings-over to Primo sleeping with Jeru's sister, whom I cannot actually verify existence.

Regardless of the facts, Jeru broke apart from the crew that essentially raised him from a young pup, and decided to venture out on his own. (The real winner of this situation was neither Jeru nor Primo: it was Jeru's former errand boy Afu-Ra, who would capitalize on the opening to become a newer and improved Jeru with his solo debut, The Body Of The Life Force.) He created his own label, Knowsavage Records, and quietly recorded his third album, Heroz4Hire, which was released in 1999.

Heroz4Hire features wall-to-wall production from Jeru the Damaja himself, a far cry from the usual Primo compositions audiences were used to. Jeru also shares top billing this go round with a female rapper named Miz Marvel, who for all I know was Jeru's former guidance counselor or aunt or something: I'm personally still trying to figure out how she ended up on the album. Among other things I'm still trying to figure out: why the album is credited as Jeru the Damaga Presents Supahuman Klik, when there are only two rappers in the fucking "klik". But I digress.

Heroz4Hire was met with overly positive reactions, primarily from critics (there weren't many bloggers back in 1999) who refused to believe that Jeru the Damaja could suck horribly on a record. However, the tide soon turned against the project: bad word of mouth made its way around the Interweb, and its sales faltered. To date, Heroz4Hire is the only album that Knowsavage Records has ever released, and probably for good reason.

Let's find out why.

1. SUPAHUMAN THEME
Fucking lame. That's all I got.

2. GREAT SOLAR STANCE
This isn't bad. Jeru sounds like his old self over his own beat. It's nowhere close to the collaborative work he's done with Primo, but this is a decent substitute. Maybe this listen won't be as bad as I remembered.

3. VERBAL BATTLE (FEAT MIZ MARVEL)
Oh wait, no, I was wrong: the album has already gone downhill. There are many, many problems with this song. For starters, Jeru hands the microphone to Miz Marvel, a female rapper I had never heard of prior to Heroz4Hire and haven't heard from since, for a solo song, which is simply a bad move due to the fact that people bought what they believed to be a Jeru album. Secondly, Miz Marvel fails to impress on this track, which isn't inherently bad, but once again, people thought they bought a Jeru album. Finally, the song is called "Verbal Battle" but it's a Miz Marvel solo: there is no verbal battle of any sort to speak of. Sigh.

4. BITCHEZ WIT DIKZ (FEAT MIZ MARVEL & LIL' DAP)
Um...okay. Not a song about pre-op transsexuals, as I had expected, but a track about guys that act like bitches, which may be closer to what you were expecting. Just hearing the chorus is enough to make you want to hit the skip button. However, it's good to see that Jeru hasn't cut all of his ties to the Gangstarr Foundation, even if it is only Lil' Dap (from Group Home).

5. SEINFELD
The really sad aspect of this disc so far are the beats: it's obvious that Jeru tried his best to sound like the nineteenth coming of DJ Premier, but something got fucked up along the way. It doesn't help that, on this song especially, he seems to be entirely cognizant to the fact that the beat is lacking, making this song ostensibly about "nothing" even more meaningless.

6. RENEGADE SLAVE
Seriously, the fact that Jeru was brash enough to incorporate a quick sample from one of his Primo-produced tracks in the hook (in a Primo-esque style) is less of a loving flashback and more like a fucking slap in the face to the fans.

7. PRESHA
No, thank you.

8. SUPERHUMANZ N LUV (INTERLUDE)
You gotta be fucking kidding me. Also, if you're going to go through the trouble to misspell the word "superhumans", at least be consistent throughout the album, motherfucker.

9. ANOTHA VICTIM (FEAT MIZ MARVEL)
Another Miz Marvel solo track, although on this she sounds much better. However, her final verse fades out before the song is finished, and my two readers know how much I love that shit.

10. BILLIE JEAN (SAFE SEX)
"Billie Jean" is the best Michael Jackson song that he will ever create. Ever. (Disagree? You can comment below, but deep down, you know I'm right.) I'm not even a fan of the "alleged" (note the quotation marks) child molester, but "Billie Jean" and Thriller are my shit. But that track makes for a strange starting point of a rap song. Jeru is obviously just fucking around on this track, but since he's never really branched out like this before, it's not bad. For what it is, anyway.

11. BLAK LUV
Meh.

12. WHAT A DAY
This is actually not bad, even if Jeru gets a bit preachy while informing listeners of what he thinks his perfect day would be like. And by "a bit", I mean, of course "really fucking preachy". This is Jeru we're talking about, folks.

13. MIZ MARVEL (FEAT MIZ MARVEL)
Um, seriously, enough with the solo songs already!

14. 99 PA CENT
To my knowledge, this was the only actual single from Heroz4Hire. The beat is pretty good, and Jeru sounds as decent as ever, even if the lyrics are essentially one long potshot at his former partners Guru and DJ Premier. (But he's not bitter.) While this song is really good, it's too little, too late.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Heroz4Hire is a fucking mess. Jeru seems confused: he wants to prove to the hip hop masses that he can make it without Primo's help, but he then goes out of his way to create instrumentals that sound like they could have come from Primo on a sick day. He also defers to guests more often than he ever has on his own record, and the primary co-star, Miz Marvel, is clearly not the Ghostface Killah to Jeru's Raekwon: she isn't really talented enough to carry entire songs by herself. (Perhaps if she just popped up in cameo spots, we wouldn't be having this discussion.) Here's the rub, though: even though I personally feel that Jeru the Damaja will never ever ever top the work that he's done with DJ Premier, because that shit is fucking classic, I still think that he's good enough to proceed in his career without the brand-name help. Just not on this album.

BUY OR BURN? I can't think of any reason why you would need to do either one. This disc just made me angry. I'm going to simply pretend that Jeru gave up rapping after Wrath Of The Math to take on an activist role, and it would be best if you did the same.

BEST TRACKS: "99 Pa Cent"; "Great Solar Stance"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Read the other Jeru the Damaja posts by clicking here.

20 comments:

  1. i can't believe you would waste your time commenting on this album.

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  2. Phil Watts, Jr.September 08, 2008

    "You never see 'em in the GHETTOOOO--
    BITCHEZ WIT DIKS!!
    Think they're pimps but they tricks--
    BITCHEZ WIT DIKS!!
    Giving states evidence--
    BITCHEZ WIT DIKS!!
    When beef come, THEY SKIP--
    BITCHEZ WIT DIKS!!"

    Jeru must've been smoking some serious shit when he thought up that hook!

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  3. Word. This album was a hot mess...but still "solar stance", "what a day" and "billie jean" were aiight...

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  4. seinfeld was more than decent for what it is...i always imagined what the video would be like: jerry in tims and a hoody, elaine in door knockas and 54.11 reeboks,george in a fucked up broke-pimp suit, we'd say fuck michael richards racist ass and have dave chappelle play kramer

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  5. Max, I digs your concept, homes!I had to scroll to find an album I owned that u reviewed. I bought this used in '01, I believe and still own it but I can tlisten to it. Seinfeld, Bilie J and 99 % are the only winners here.Great blog, though!
    chronwell

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  6. "Seinfeld" isn't literally about nothing, nor is it about the show. it's actually a comment on the emptiness of commercial hip hop, on a "What They Do" tip, using the whole "show about nothing" concept as a metaphor, which is why the whole thing is essentially a list of silly rap cliches. kind of a clumsy metaphor sure, but also kind of cool in that's not as glaringly overt as most hip hop metaphors are ("I Used to Love H.E.R.", the millions of stupid ones for cocaine).

    not that it really matters, given that this is a months old review of a minor album released almost a decade ago. but I'll always have a soft spot for Jeru's 2nd tier Nas meets black militancy thing, and I've always liked "Seinfeld." the beat is pretty meh though.

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  7. this album just proved that jeru shouldnt have had that dispute with primo

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  8. You are all fools...Ill ass album. Real Hip Hop. Beats are sick. Ms. Marvel fucking kills it everytime. You can't stop the prophet bitches.

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  9. love every song. ur too crucial

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  10. yeah and miz marvel is SO SICK.

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  11. Fuck this review...The album is dope...Jeru has never fell off or sold out...Respect to Primo but shut the fuck up and stop hating on jeru...To me Jeru got better and better with every new album.

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  12. this album was good in my opinion. Jeru isnt the generic emcee I appericate that he uses a great vocab with out going overboard with it like immortal tech.

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  13. this review is awful - I hope jerus eyes never see this. He didnt NEEED preemo you faggots. They did shit together because they were friend outside of hip hop and wanted to chill do work together. Jeru's still nice he produced this album & this album has nice beats like 99.9 that shit brings me back to like geto boys. get the fuck outta here your retarded with very little hip hop knowledge.

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  14. This review is 100% spot on in every way!

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  15. AnonymousJune 24, 2012

    BUY OR BURN? I can't think of any reason why you would need to do either one.
    -----

    well, 99,9 pa cent is a must listen

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  16. miz marvel fucking killed it.

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  17. yo dude your opinions are your opinions...BUT THIS ALBUM WAS FUCKING DOPE. Any one that doesnt see the magic in this album is a fuckin fool. people are just mad cos it didnt have premo production....and yo miz marvel was SICK on this album...you say there werent many blogs in 99? that was a good thing because idots like you didnt have a voice...but now any mentaly limited fool can set up a blogspot and talk shit....fuck you and your blog

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  18. Wow, can't believe this review. This was a very solid, slept on album.

    The production on here was solid. Hell i thought Premier produced some of the tracks...

    You didn't like "The Pressure" are you f*cking kidding me? That beat was too ill...

    I guess we have different taste but I really liked the production on this album, and Mz Marvel killed every track! Stop hating on her just because you never heard of her! Every rapper was an unknown at some point.

    Don't listen to this review. Listen to the album and you'll see how good it was.

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  19. I was slightly confused when I first started reading, then I realised you don't know real hip hop. Most real hip-hop doesn't sell because people don't understand it so sales figures are irrelevant... & Miz Marvel was shit? do you listen to the lyrics? or flow? I don't know because both were on point. idiots be talking mathematics but fast to kiss a crucifix, one of her lyrics describes your mentality; stupid.

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  20. You must have been pretty bitter while reviewing this album. Although it's not as good as his previous work, it's still a pretty good album, 3/5.

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