Jeru The Damaja (On The Rocks, Helsinki) – 17/06/2022

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Our site is dedicated to everything rock and metal with a few sidesteps in music that appeals to the same music fans like synthwave, neo (pagan) folk, industrial,… But some of us do have a taste for music and art that goes beyond these limitations. Enter “GRIMM goes rogue”: where you’ll get a metalhead, punker, rocker,… who ventures into realms beyond their usual habitat with an open mind and give their honest opinion, views and experiences.

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."

Frank Zappa

Hip hop is a music genre that I’ve always loved and when an absolute legend of the culture comes over for a show at a venue nearby, how could I say no to that? Jeru The Damaja, known from classic tracks like ‘Come Clean’, and his work with Gang Starr, is someone you simply don’t want to miss out on. Helsinki based hip hop artist Loasteeze managed to lure him to Finland and completed the night with some stellar Finnish acts like Jodarock and Bentality for what ended up being a hot and steamy night of beats and killer bars.


There seemed to be a last minute addition to the line-up with Sitonation, who apparently had talked himself into doing a couple of tracks to start the night. A Helsinki based artist who brought some US East Coast flavor to the stage and was actually a very enjoyable start of the night. It would have been interesting to see where he’d take the show if he only had more than the 2 or 3 tracks he had the time for. Especially since it seemed that by the time he and the people who were there already were getting in the flow, it was already over.


With Bentality, we got an infusion of some soul added to the night. His songs (and himself) had a certain flow and flair to them that was really enjoyable and clearly spoke to quite some people in the room. The clear and pure passion for his lyrics and music that radiated from him probably helped with that. Tracks like ‘Family‘ continued to hang around in my head for quite a while after and I’m curious to check out his first full-length album later this year. I have to say that this was a really nice discovery, something that I was hoping for working on this column.


I had seen Jodarok before with his hip hop group Aivovuoto last year as support for Gasellit at one of the first Coolhead Live events, but this time it was just his solo work. Similarly to what he does with Aivovuoto, the music was somewhat minimalist and the overall atmosphere felt darker and more serious. I have absolutely no clue what the hell he was going on about, but there is just something about someone rapping in Finnish in this kind of darker feeling style. Clearly he was the most popular one of the supporting artists, because suddenly the room was filled up quite nicely with enthusiastic and often dancing fans. At some point near the end he even pulled a couple of guys from the crowd on stage to join him in doing what I presume was one of the tracks of Aivovuoto, where they got to do the lines that weren’t his to do. An absolutely great gig that makes me want to dive deeper into Suomirap than what I’ve done up to this point.

Jeru The Damaja

And then it was finally time for the one person everyone had come down to On The Rocks for! Jeru The Damaja is a hip hop legend and was an absolute delight to see at work. His flow was unmatched tonight and his natural elegance being on a stage in front of a crowd was fantastic. He landed some proper jokes in between the tracks of his pretty long setlist and ended up roasting some of the people in the crowd who thought it was a good plan to heckle him. The whole venue bounced at his beckons and there were some hilarious situations considering guns and the motions we were supposed to do with certain lines, that made clear how different our upbringings were. But overall, we got to hear and see a master at work, experience some hip hop classics live and basically feel welcome and loved with a performance that beamed with positivity.

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