Review Summary: DJ Premier's production provides the perfect sountrack for Jeru's rugged rhymes on this impressive debut.
Jeru first appeared as a guest on "I'm the Man" a cut off Gang Starr's Daily Operation album where he held his own and maybe topped Gang Starr's Guru. The Sun Rises in the East marked the first time that DJ Premier produced an entire album outside of Gang Starr, it was also notable for the cover depicting the World Trade Center on fire one year after a terrorist attack on this same building.
Jeru's outstanding debut along with Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in '93 and Illmatic in '94 was essential in the revival the New York hip hop scene. At a time when Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and other gangsta rappers were controlling things, a brash young newcomer by the name of Jeru the Damaja ran contrary to the violence of the west coast scene but also the glitz of Bad Boy Records.
On the first single "Come Clean" Jeru was determined to "cleanse" the rap game of materialism and violence with his conscious rhymes and Five-Percent ideology, lyrics like "I don't gang bang, or shoot out bang bang the relentless lyrics the only dope I slang" and "Leave your nines at home and bring your skills to the battle" where he made it clear that his brain was the strongest weapon he possesed "Your nine spray, my mind spray". As good as Jeru's lyics are on this track, Premier gives him one of the most outrageous beats in the history of hip hop, sounding like banging pipes or dripping water, it had people asking "What the hell is that?". It turns out that it's a waterphone, to put it in the simplest possible way: they're drums that have a small amount of water at the bottom which gives it that sound, leave it to Premiere to dig up something like this, a sample from Onyx "Uh-oh! HEADS UP, cause we're droppin some sh*t" completes this gem.
Working outside of Gang Starr gave Premier the freedom to get away from the jazzy loops used on said projects and allowed him to be more inventive, Premier went in a completely different direction which produced an amazing collection of beats. "D. Original" was simply an off-key piano chord with snapping kick drums and "Statik" where he used, well, static where Jeru proves that he "Can rock a rhyme with just static" but gets a little preachy on "Da Bichez", over a gloroius horn-driven sample, Jeru puts "Da Bichez" on blast put is careful to point out that only some women fit into this category. "You Can't Stop the Prophet" is Jeru becoming a super hero named The Black Prophet where he hunts down his arch-nemesis Mr. Ignorance, his heart is in the right place but he doesn't quite pull it off.
DJ Premier has a knack for scratching in other rapper's vocal samples and always seems to put the right one in the right place whether it's KRS One's "Brooklyn Keeps on Takin' it" on the track "Brooklyn Took It" or RZA's diabolical laugh from "Tearz" on the aptly titled "Ain't the Devil Happy" and even though N.W.A. was the opposite of what Jeru was trying to be a clip of Eazy-E saying "Bitch!" finds it's way onto "Da Bitchez" again fitting in perfectly.
This was an incredible showcase for Premier's skills and Jeru plays his part admirably, he's a commanding presence on the mic although his flow sounds a bit monotonous over the course of the album. Besides this project Primo also had a role on Nas' Illmatic, Biggie's Ready to Die and Gangstarr's own Hard to Earn, (in the same year!) which would establish him as hip hop's best producer for years to come