Underground Hip Hop lives in New York (with Jeru the Damaja and Jae Millz interviews)

Underground Hip Hop lives in New York (with Jeru the Damaja and Jae Millz interviews)

New York has been the epicenter of all things Hip Hop for as long as Hip Hop has been around. It only makes sense. Afterall it was born in Boogie Down and spread itself from there. The very notion of mainstream Hip Hop music was only discovered recently. When Return of the Boom Bap or Planet Rock and similar legendary albums came out, there was definitely a lack of publicity for it. Now those are the classics and KRS and Afrika are true Hip Hop icons. If an album doesn’t go Platinum nowadays artists can’t stop blaming labels or various external factors. Now, Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come is at 2,000,000 million records, less than 6 months after release.

Outside of the more commercial efforts, there is a whole other world. Now, that the distinction between Platinum and non-Platinum artists has become so clear, that ‘other’ music got its own name. Underground Hip Hop. Many struggle not to be branded in this fashion. Yet, most of the Hip Hop roots came from it and are there now. Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane and Chino XL all live in people’s memories before they do on your record store’s shelves. The world of new artists who are the daily underground stars is somewhat lacking. Talib Kweli is perhaps the most commercial underground act in New York now. A lot of attention is on him as a result of his Black Star days, when he rapped with Mos Def. Papoose got a deal with Jive after putting out 17 mixtapes. The very concept of mixtapes nowadays is paying attention to the streets. Testing the waters with new music and keeping the name current, it allows some of the better known artists to put out their music on constant basis. It also allows the unsigned talent to gain popularity.

SOB’s has kept its urban music popping for a long time now. Just in the past few months they’ve done shows with Termanology, Boot Camp Click, X-Clan, Lupe Fiasco, KRS and much more. So it is no surprise that the theme of underground Hip Hop got represented there with Jaru the Damaga and Jae Millz.

Getting his initial popularity with DJ Premier and Gang Star, Jeru became a piece of NY Hip Hop history. Using a unique rhyming style, he quickly established a fan base and even managed to produce several memorable beefs. His disagreements with Bad Boy resulted in BIG’s beef track on Life After Death. Either that or financial disputes caused for Jeru to stop talking to DJ Premiere for a few years. Even Fugees managed to exchange a diss track with him. Representing all of the best of Hip Hop: years on the scene, strong ties to the roots, unique style and even lyrical beef, Jeru the Damaja is as true to himself today as ever.

Jae Millz is a current New York underground artist. Making a name for himself in the past few years with allegiance to old style of Hip Hop music, he’s had a solid following from day one. Doing performances with everyone from Raekwon to Remy Ma he is a firm believer in that true Hip Hop feeling. His most popular track to hit the radio waves was Bring it Back. Fairly early in his career he already experienced plenty of ups and downs and a fair share of publicity. From his first days with Diddy to his current unsigned status, he is full of ideas, intent and music.

Both, Jeru the Damaja and Jae Millz shared their thoughts, their stories and their plans in these interviews.

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