Jeru the Damaja
A Brooklyn emcee who began his career with the Gang Starr Foundation, Jeru's ignorance-bashing lyricism has been moving heads since the early 1990s. First featured on Gang Starr's Daily Operation in 1992, he became an underground hero on the strength of his first single, "Come Clean." Set to an eerie marimba loop courtesy of Premier, Jeru took to task the multitude of studio gangstas in the industry, with ill rhymes such as "I don't gang-bang or shoot out bang-bang / The relentless lyrics the only dope I slang / I'm a true master you can check my credentials / Cuz I choose to use my infinite potential." His debut LP, The Sun Rises in the East, was filled with lyrically charged attacks against widespread mindlessness, delivered with his unique rhyme structures and backed with shining Primo production. His 1996 follow-up Wrath of the Math stands as one of hip-hop's stronger sophomore efforts, and contained the single "Ya Playin' Yaself."