October 07, 2016

Jeru The Damaja "Ya Playin' Yaself" (The Source, 10/96)

"Brooklyn MC Jeru has never been one to go with trends or mince words. His debut, "Come Clean," was loaded with thought-provoking lyrics and "Ya Playin' Yourself," the first single from his sophomore project, goes even deeper. On this joint Jeru fearlessly faces the one question that many of us in the hip-hop community continue to dance around: do gangsta / criminology type rhymes and videos set a dangerous example, or are they just harmless representations of a violent world, like movies or video games? Jeru's first verse is aimed squarely at MCs who glorify drug dealers. "These so-called playas up in the rap game / got brothas on the corners selling cooked cocaine." The next verses - still delivered in Jeru's penetrating monotone - condemn the drug trade, foul-living females and false prophet MCs, all strung together with a tight chorus." Peep the video:

"The one complaint that always seems to surface against "knowledge" rap revolves around the beat; if it ain't kickin', no one will bother to hear the lyrics. Well, that can never be the case when Premier is behind the boards. "Ya Playin' Yourself" is another of his master creations, propelled by an infectious bass bump that's a flip of Junior Mafia's smash "Playa's Anthem." And that may not be entirely accidental. "Ya Playin' Yourself" is the antidote to the endless materialism currently saturating hip-hop. While others may preach getting paid above all, here's Jeru's philosophy: "Knowledge, wisdom, understanding brings long life and health / Think anything else and you're playin' yourself." - The Source (10/96). You can read (or save a copy) of The Source's review below.