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