Artist: Jeru the Damaja
Title: "Me, Not The Paper"
Producer: DJ PremierAlbum: "Me Or The Papes" (single, vinyl and CD) (1997)
Longtime readers will recognize this track, as I've written about it a number of times over the past eight years, so bear with me as I attempt to find a new way to discuss it today.
"Me Or The Papes", the lead single from Brooklyn-bred emcee Jeru the Damaja's sophomore effort, Wrath Of The Math, found the man trying to clear up some misconceptions regarding a song entitled "Da Bichez" off of his debut, The Sun Rises In The East, which was supposed to be about materialistic women (gold diggers, specifically), but came across to some audiences as misogynistic as shit. Instead of just letting it be, though, Jeru had to have the last word, and that last word consisted of him trying to clarify his position by writing another song about materialistic women. This time around, though, his riffing was presented on a radio-friendly concoction and was even accompanied with a nonsensical video clip that had fuck-all to do with the premise of the song, but was popular enough to earn some spins on MTV. Yeah, that's showing them, Jeru.
Anyway, while "Me Or The Papes" was alright, the real money (or "papes") was found as a b-side for the single. DJ Premier, who also produced the original take (along with the rest of Wrath Of The Math, the last time he would produce anything for Jeru, to the horror of hip hop heads everywhere, possibly because of some sneaky shit involving a family member of Jeru's, if he is to be believed), "masterfully deconstructs" (a phrase I apparently use all the time when talking about this song) the original's instrumental, using the same general elements (piano keys, programmed drum loop) to craft a darker, starker, completely original take on the proceedings, while our host elects to use the studio time eschewing all of the talk about "bitches" in favor of discussing hip hop for hip hop's sake; as I've written before, Jeru provides a "monologue about how rhyming for money is for chumps, while rhyming for the sake of rhyming, without saying anything of substance, isn't much better".
"Me, Not The Paper" takes a definitive stance, as opposed to the wishy-washy have-it-all-ways dynamic Jeru tried to present on "Me Or The Papes", and in doing so, it blows the rest of Wrath Of The Math out of the fucking water, which most likely resulted in our host choosing to not include it at all on Wrath Of The Math, a silly-ass decision if there ever was one. Come on: how much better would the album had been if he had included this shit? "Me, Not The Paper" isn't Jeru the Damaja's hardest song (the frontrunner for that would still have to be "Come Clean", from his debut), but you can hear the conviction in his voice: he means what he's saying, for better or for worse, and, at least until he finished recording this track, he had a producer in his corner who knew how to help him project that image of rap dominance and unfuckwithable swagger. Oh well.
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