2003 – Ja Rule becomes the first high-profile inte…

Ja Rule

2003 – Ja Rule becomes the first high-profile international artist to tour South Africa.

Jeffrey Atkins (born February 29, 1976), better known by his stage name Ja Rule, is an American rapper and actor signed to The Inc. and Universal Records formerly of Def Jam Recordings. A Hollis, New York native best-known for hits such as “Put It On Me,” “Between Me And You,” “I’m Real” and “Wonderful,” Ja Rule has released seven albums to date and sold over 20 million albums worldwide.

Biography

Early years

Born and raised in a Hollis, Queens, New York housing project, he attended Junior High School in Floral Park where he met his future wife Aisha Murray, graduating with her in 1991. They attended Martin Van Buren High School together, but he did not graduate.

When Atkins was five years old, his sister died from respiratory problems. His parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Growing up in a strict religious home, Atkin’s family did not celebrate birthdays and Christmas, and as a child, was not allowed to listen to rap music. When he first heard it, he decided to be a rapper. He would sneak the music into his house and played it on his CD player when his mother wasn’t around. Ja Rule allegedly stated that although he had previously attended a school in Queens, he transferred to a private school in Manhattan because of bullying about his small height. During his interview with Louis Farrakahn, he stated that he was the only black student at the school and said that because of his race, the other kids didn’t bother him.

At age 15, Atkins appeared with 0-1 and Chris Black as part of Cash Money Click which would lead to him being signed by TVT Records. Atkins was heard by a young DJ who called himself DJ Irv, and later Irv Gotti. Gotti was a friend of Jay-Z and a DJ for Def Jam Recordings . During the mid 90’s, Gotti was intent on meeting Ja Rule and helping him land a solo deal, eventually scoring one at Def Jam. Shortly after Def Jam decided to launch his career through the success of Jay-Z. Ja would appear on Jay-Z’s hit single Can I Get A… alongside Amil . Soon after we would quickly become one of the more popular rappers in the game as well as one of Def Jam’s premier acts.

Music career

Venni Vetti Vecci (1999)

On June 1, 1999, Ja Rule released his debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci. The album marked not only Ja’s debut, but the debut album from his label, Murder Inc. Records. Venni Vetti Vecci instantly launched Ja Rule’s career as he became a staple on hip hop and pop networks like MTV, VH1, and BET. The album featured “Holla Holla” along with “Its Murda” with Jay-Z and DMX. The final single was “Daddy’s Little Baby,” a duet with Ronald Isley. These three singles and the production coming from Irv Gotti along with performances from Memphis Bleek, Erick Sermon, Case, Black Child, Nemesis, and Caddillac Tah, then known as Tah Murdah, along with a notable performance from his mentor, Jay-Z led to the album going platinum.

Rule 3:36 (2000)

Ja Rule would return during the summer of 2000, with his new single “Between Me and You,” which featured Def Soul act Christina Milian. The single was quickly followed by Ja’s second effort, Rule 3:36, which was released on October 10, 2000. 3:36 also featured singles “Put It On Me,” and “I Cry.” The album featured guest appearances from Lil Mo, Vita, Christina Milian, label mates Jayo Felony, and Black Child. The album received mixed responses from critics due to its more commercial sound, abandoning a bit the darker street sound of his debut. Despite this, the album fared extremely well and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts, eventually going 3x Platinum. The release of this album marked a huge turn in Ja Rule’s style of music from a more hardcore edge to a pop crossover oriented sound.

Pain Is Love (2001)

Soon after the release of Rule 3:36, Irv Gotti would sign R&B singer Ashanti to the label, which led to Lil Mo ending her collaborations with the label. During the late summer of 2001, Ja Rule released the lead single from his third studio album, Pain Is Love, which was “Livin’ It Up.” The second single was the “I’m Real (remix),” and the third was “Always On Time,” and the last was “Down Ass Bitch.” This album is noted for two things the first is introducing a young Ashanti to the music business and the second is bringing Charli Baltimore back to the music business. Pain Is Love featured guest appearances from Case, The Murder Inc. Family, Missy Elliott, Jodie Mack, Tweet, Jennifer Lopez and a recording from the late Tupac Shakur. Along with its critical success it was also a commercial success it, like its predecessor went 3x Platinum.

The Last Temptation (2002)

Ja Rule would shave his head during the promotion of his fourth studio album, The Last Temptation. His fourth album was released on November 19, 2002. Although the album was fairly successful, certified platinum, it failed to carry the momentum brought by his previous album, criticized for being too commercial. It seemed that Ja’s popularity was starting to fade, due to many fan’s perceived notion that he was now catering exclusively to pop audiences.

Blood In My Eye (2003)

Blood In My Eye is the fifth album from Ja Rule. The content of this album led to a dramatic fall in his popularity. This album is also noted as the last Ja Rule album released by The Inc. Records under the moniker Murder Inc. This was partially due to Ja’s disses and death threats to adversaries, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes (a former associate), Eminem, Dr. Dre, DMX, and G-Unit. The album was originally planned to be a mixtape, but former label Def Jam Recordings forced him to release an album in 2003 to honor the contract, where he released an album every year. Blood In My Eye peaked at #6, but became his first album not to go gold or platinum, making it his lowest selling to date. On this album, Ja sparked rivalries with many artists on the Interscope Records roster. In October 2003, Ja Rule met with Minster Louis Farrakhan, who wanted to intervene and prevent escalating violence in the feud between 50 Cent and Ja Rule.

R.U.L.E. (2004)

Ja Rule returned to form on his sixth studio album, R.U.L.E. released on November 9, 2004. This album was considered a comeback of sorts for Ja as he attempted a return to mainstream success. The lead single was “Wonderful” which was followed by the street anthem, “New York,” the third and last single was “Caught Up”. The album featured guest appearances from Ashanti, Lloyd, Trick Daddy, R. Kelly, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Claudette Ortiz, Black Child, Caddillac Tah and many more. Despite not having the staying power of his earlier albums R.U.L.E. still managed to go gold, a feat he hadn’t accomplished since 2002 with The Last Temptation.

Exodus (2005)

On December 6, 2005, Ja Rule released his seventh album, which is nothing more than a greatest hits album. It featured only one new song “Exodus (Intro)” which was produced by Irv Gotti. The album was released to honor the contract with Def Jam so that The Inc. could get a fresh start with a new distributor. After the release of this compilation, Ja Rule took a hiatus from recording music.

Departure from Def Jam (2005-2006)

In 2005, The Inc. Records would come under investigation because of the drug trades by Kenneth “Supreme” Mc Griff, who is associated with Irv Gotti. This would all lead to Def Jam Recordings refusing to renew The Inc.’s contract. From 2005 to 2006, Irv would search for other labels, until finally reaching a deal with Universal Records.

The Mirror (2008)
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In March, 2008, Ja Rule planned to release his Universal Records debut and eighth studio album, The Mirror. The first single, “Uh Oh” was released on July 31, 2007 and premiered on music video shows the following day. This second single, “Body” was released in September. The album contains a collaboration with former G-Unit artist, The Game , whom he had once had a lyrical altercation with, called “Sunset.” The album was originally supposed to be titled Love Is Pain as a sequel to his album Pain Is Love. The album eventually was pushed back a second time with no definitive release date.

Personal life

Criminal charges

In 1999, he along with the rest of Murder Inc. were brought up on charges for assaulting 50 Cent, which led to a restraining order against them for 50. Also in 2003, he punched a man in Toronto for shouting at him in a crowd because of the 50 Cent feud. He would end up suing Ja Rule, but they settled out of court. In 2004, police investigated whether a feud involving The Inc. led to fatal shooting outside a nightclub party hosted by Ja Rule. In July 2007, Ja Rule was arrested for gun and drug possession charges along with Lil Wayne.

Romantic life

Ja Rule met his future wife, Aisha while attending middle school and they married when they were eighteen.

Homophobia

In the September 2007 issue of Complex magazine, Ja Rule was mistakenly reported to have expressed that homosexuals are to be blamed for the problems and destruction in the United States, and was disgusted at MTV’s promotion of LGBT television shows. He also spoke out about how hip hop is being blamed for more issues than homosexuality, and perpetuated the belief that gays are evil and corrupting music and television.
“     “And if it is, then we need to go step to Paramount, and fucking MGM, and all of these other motherfuckers that’s making all of these movies and we need to go step to MTV and Viacom, and lets talk about all these fucking shows that they have on MTV that is promoting homosexuality, that my kids can’t watch this shit,” he continued. “Dating shows that’s showing two guys or two girls in mid-afternoon. Let’s talk about shit like that! If that’s not fucking up America, I don’t know what is.”     ”

His comments prompted a strong rebuke from GLAAD, who issued a public statement stating, “No fair-minded person can look at Ja Rule’s interview with Complex Magazine and believe for one second that his children could be more harmed by what they might see on television than by the vulgarity and prejudice that comes out of their father’s mouth. Now that media have seen Ja Rule’s intolerance unmasked by his own words, they have a responsibility not to provide in the future a platform for his ugly, vulgar displays of prejudice.”

It was later revealed that GLAAD had been mistaken and that he was actually mis-quoted in an interview with online MySpace interview channel The Hook Up on October 24, 2007. He went on in a January 2008 issue of XXL Magazine to state his words were taken out of context. He is quote as stating:
“     “What I was saying in that article is everyone has that same responsibility. They’re absolutely right: Rappers have a responsibility to the kids. But don’t just pin it on the hip-hop. If I gotta curb my lyrics or censor what I say, no problem. But if you gonna show sexual images during the daytime for children, that should be censored as well … And I’m not just talking about homosexuality. I’m talking about any sexuality. If it’s too sexy for kids, its too sexy for kids …”     ”

Hip Hop entrepreneur

Aside from being president of The Inc. Records, Ja Rule is the owner and founder of Rule Global Media. This consists of Mpire Records, ErvingGeoffrey, and Stars On Poker.net.

The Inc. Records

Ja Rule co-founded The Inc. Records along with Irv Gotti in 1997. When it was formed, because of it being a vanity label, Def Jam owned a 50% stake in the label.

In 2002, Irv Gotti granted Ja Rule 50% of his share of the label due to his recent success on the charts. The next year, Ja Rule was named label president while Irv is the primary owner and the label CEO.

Mpire Records

In 2006, Ja Rule formed his own label to be distributed by The Inc., Mpire Records. To the label, he has signed Young Merc, Ashley Joi, D. Gift, Boxie, Tre, Newz, and Thunderkatz. He owns 100 percent of this label, which is a subsidiary of The Inc. Also signed to the label are his group Cash Money Click.

ErvingGeoffrey

In 2004, Ja Rule teamed up with Irv Gotti to create their own clothing line, ErvingGeoffrey, which is an urban wear clothing line. It is prominently featured in various Inc-associated videos and on their artists various albums.

Philanthropy

Atkins teamed up with associates of Tupac Shakur’s organization and founded L.I.F.E Foundation, which opens its doors to underprivileged kids. The foundation has various programs which include art, music, poetry and sports.

Discography

Main article: Ja Rule discography

* 1999: Venni Vetti Vecci
* 2000: The Murderers
* 2000: Rule 3:36
* 2001: Pain Is Love
* 2002: The Inc.
* 2002: The Remixes
* 2002: The Last Temptation
* 2003: Blood in My Eye
* 2004: R.U.L.E.
* 2005: Exodus
* 2008: The Mirror

Awards history
Award     Category     Genre     Song/Album     Year     Result
Source Hip-Hop Music Award     Single of the Year     Rap/Hip-Hop     “Put It On Me”     2001     Won
Source Award     R&B/Rap Collboration of the Year     R&B/Rap     “Thug Lovin'”     2003     Won
Source Award     Fat Tape Song of the Year     Rap/Hip-Hop     “Clap Back”     2004     Won
MTV Video Music Award     Best Rap Video     Rap     “Put It On Me”     2001     Nominated
MTV Video Music Award     Best Hip-Hop Video     Hip-Hop     “Im Real (Murder Remix)”     2002     Won
MTV Video Music Award     Best Hip-Hop Video     Hip-Hop     “Always On Time”     2002     Nominated
American Music Award     Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist     Rap/Hip-Hop     –     2002     Nominated
American Music Award     Favorite Hip-Hop/R&B Male Artist     Hip-Hop/R&B     –     2003     Nominated
Grammy Award     Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group     Rap/Hip-Hop     “Put It On Me”     2002     Nominated
Grammy Award     Best Rap Album     Rap     “Pain Is Love”     2002     Nominated
Grammy Award     Best Rap/Sung Collaboration     Rap/Sung     “Livin’ It Up”     2002     Nominated
Grammy Award     Best Rap/Sung Collaboration     Rap/Sung     “Always On Time”     2003     Nominated
World Music Award     World’s Best-Selling Rap Artist     Rap/Hip-Hop     –     2002     Won
BET Award     Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Artist     Hip-Hop     –     2002     Won
GQ Men of the Year Award     Musician of the Year     Rap/Hip-Hop     –     2002     Won
Teen Choice Award     Male Artist of the Year     Rap/Hip-Hop     –     2002     Won
NAACP Image Award     Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist     Rap/Hip-Hop     –     2002     Won
Soul Train Award     Best Rap/Soul or Rap Album of the Year     Rap     “Pain Is Love”     2002     Nominated

Acting career

During his break from rapping, Ja Rule co-starred in the movie The Fast and the Furious with Vin Diesel. He appeared on the 2004 movie Back in The Day along with Ving Rhames and Pam Grier. He was also starred in the movie The Cookout with Queen Latifah. He is working on his bio-pic and on Saw IV.

Filmography
Year     Title     Role     Notes
2000     Da Hip Hop Witch     Himself
2000     Turn it Up     David ‘Gage’ Williams
2001     Crime Partners 2000
2001     The Fast and the Furious     Edwin
2002     Half Past Dead     Nicolas ‘Nick’ Frazier
2003     Scary Movie 3     Agent Thompson
2003     Pauly Shore Is Dead     Himself
2004     The Cookout     Bling Bling
2004     Shall We Dance?     Hip Hop Bar Performer
2005     Back in the Day     Reggie Cooper
2005     Assault on Precinct 13     Smiley
2007     Kenny     TBA     post-production
2007     Furnace     TBA     post-production
2007     Don’t Fade Away     TBA     post-production

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