As he sits back and
enjoys the current critical acclaim and public acceptance being garnered for his
sixth album, R.U.L.E., Queens-bred veteran Ja Rule can’t help but
look back on his dramatic career and appreciate just how far he has come. Enduring
through highly-publicized beefs, premature count-outs, federal investigations,
and a constant see-saw shifting of love and hate, Ja is a true survivor.
In a highly unusual
format, AllHipHop.com let Ja Rule and his albums drive the interview. Taking
his career album-by-album, Ja provides a candid and honest assessment of the
road he has traveled thus far, told completely through his own words into his
brand new release, R.U.L.E.
Ja Rule: I was
a little nervous at first going into that album, ‘cause I had never did
a solo album. That was my first venture on my own; like doing 12, 13 songs by
myself. Coming off of my deal with the Cash Money Clique, now I had to come
up with the concepts and everything by myself. I went in to the studio, and
I think the first record I made was a record called “Love.” It was
ill, but that record never came out. It was such a hot record, but I had used
it for a Coca-Cola commercial, so it didn’t make any album. It was hot,
like, “Love is a crime, love is in your mind, love is when you got beef
and your man hits you with the nine.” [Laughs] That was my joint. Anyways,
after I did that record, I was like, “I can do this solo thing.”
Then, I went through
a little crisis, ‘cause I had all of these records, but I didn’t
have that big record that the company was looking for. “Holla Holla”
was like the last record I made for that album. I heard the beat, and the beat
sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. [Sounding out the beat] It was
like water, and all types of s**t in it. I was like, ‘What the f**k is
that!’ Everybody was bugging, and wondering what I could do with that
beat. I took in the studio, and I figured the beat was too hot to not try, so
I came up with my little double style. Thank God that worked! [Laughs] ‘Cause
that was it, and I didn’t have anything else on that album that could
even understand, like, when first come out as a big artist; to not have any
of your n*ggas in the video, is a risk! We’re sitting there with Hype
Williams, and he’s like, ‘Yo, I got the idea. Let’s go to
Brazil.’ I’m like, ‘Hell yeah! Let’s go! We all going!’
[Laughs] They’re like, ‘No, no, no. We don’t got the budget
for everybody, so it’s just you and maybe one other person.’ At
that point in Hip-Hop, it was still about your n*ggas in the videos with you.
I went for it, and they told me that we could do the ‘n*ggas sh*t’
for the next video, not knowing that if this one didn’t work, there wouldn’t
be a next video. [Laughs] We flew out to Brazil, and it was magic instantly.
We set up cameras, scouting ladies. There were mad beautiful chicks coming to
the camera, and on the beach topless. All types of shit, man! I was extra amped!
We turned the cameras on, and girls started flocking. We only brought one professional
girl (Gloria Velez), and the rest were just girls from Brazil that wanted to
2000 Rule 3:36
Ja Rule: After
Venni Vetti Vicci, Rule 3:36 wasn’t easy for me. I caught a lot
of flack. “Oh, he’s trying to be like 2Pac. Oh, he’s trying
to be like DMX. He’s Jay-Z’s protégé.” I was
getting all of that s**t. All I was trying to say was, ‘Nah, I’m
my own person.’ Me and X got similar voices, but I don’t sound like
him. As far as similarities to Pac, I just got tattoos. Like, for “Can
I Get A….” I wrote the hook! Can I get some respect? No love, though.
People said, “You’re a one-hit wonder.” I said, for this album,
I gotta do something different and make people take notice. So, I grew my hair
and got braids, ‘cause Pac and X never had braids. Beyond that, though,
I had to separate myself with the music. At that time, X was the ultimate in
street grimy, and Jay was the ultimate in floss. So, I realized that neither
of them was really addressing the b*tches. I came up with my own approach to
get out of their shadows. I took it there.
know it was going to become my niche like that, though. I wanted it to allow
people to not compare me to these rappers anymore. I started to recognize that,
‘cause artists like Timbaland would come up to me saying, “Yo, that
lil’ flow along sh*t you’re doing…that’s your niche!”
Now I’m starting to realize that I got my own lane.
Ja Rule: Pain
Is Love is….now, this lane that I’ve created is open for me.
Now, let’s see how it works. Let me take it in full gear. For that album,
I was cruising into it. I had just came from a big album. For Pain Is Love,
I just wanted to make big records that people could party to and have fun with.
I was on some real sacrifice sh*t, like I was giving myself, so everybody else
could eat. Like, let’s get everybody on the album, and let’s get
the label popping. After that album had been out, though, the hate started flowing
in, and it came in full force during The Last Temptation.
2002 The Last Temptation
Ja Rule: Motherf***ers
started giving me shade. It was crazy, ‘cause it didn’t come from
a music standpoint at first. Like, “Mesmerize” was still a number
two record. So, at the time that the hate was really starting to come in, here’s
one of my style records that is beasting. It was coming, but it wasn’t
coming as fast as I expected, so I was kind of ignoring the situation. After
The Last Temptation dropped, it became a hate-fest: F**k Ja Rule fest.
As far as people
hating on the “Mesmerize” video, I love that video, man! It was
f***ing creative. F**k everybody. Don’t act like you’ve never watched
Grease! N*ggas was crazy, but it’s all good. It’s what I wanted
to do, and I did it. I’m proud of it, and I had fun doing the video. But,
of course, Ja Rule catches flack for it. Ja Rule caught flack through his whole
career, the way I feel. From ‘one-hit wonder’ to ‘trying to
be like Pac and X,’ to ‘Jay’s protégé,’
I’ve been through it all. It’s been crazy for me. it hasn’t
been easy. So, I do The Last Temptation, and the album does decent.
Then, the hate is on me for real.
In My Eye
Ja Rule: Making
that album, it was like, “Yo, I can’t believe these n*ggas is talking
crazy like this. These n*ggas!” Oh my God! It’s unbelievable to
me, ‘cause y’all don’t know what I know. To the world over,
these guys (G-Unit) are the toughest guys on the planet. To the fans and the
kids, they are the toughest. Where I’m at, I’m like, “I can’t
believe that n*ggas are falling for this sh*t.” F**k the street shit,
‘cause the fans don’t understand that. I gotta make an album to
express myself, and let people know how I feel about all of that. it was just
to get stuff off of my chest and air it out. I had to do that album. I had to!
There was too much talking and sh*t going on.
I make the album,
say what I got to say. The reactions were mixed ‘cause it wasn’t
a typical Ja Rule album. It was all anger, and really, hate music. Nobody has
really heard that side of me before. They had heard some street sh*t, but not
hate music. It’s a whole different type of music. There is an audience
for that kind of music, and there is an audience that doesn’t give a f**k
about the hate music. The audience that doesn’t give a f**k is way bigger,
but, the core audience cared. The core audience and the industry heads are who
I have around everyday, so even though I’m receiving cheers and jeers,
I’m starting to understand it a little more. For me, Blood In My Eye
was essential. I had to make that album to come back and do R.U.L.E.
Ja Rule: There
are some sayings that go by, and my n*gga Preem (Supreem) said one. He told
me some real sh*t. He was like, ‘Rule, there is no need for you to go
running up the tree to pick that apple. Go sit under the tree, and the apple
will fall in your lap.’ That’s the realest sh*t ever. The paint
was starting to chip off the walls now. As I sat back and waited for the apple
to drop, the paint is chipping, and I realize that people are starting to see
through their bullsh*t. I knew it was only a matter of time, but I didn’t
think it was gonna happen this fast. When you portray something that you’re
not, it will come back to get you. You know why? ‘Cause you can’t
go out and about outside, ‘cause people are gonna recognize that you aren’t
what you say you are. Even if you’re not saying that you’re a tough
guy. Even if you’re saying that you’re a cool guy, and you go out
and trip over everything that moves. You can’t be in the public too much,
‘cause you’re gonna get exposed. Me, I go out all the time, and
I have a great time, ‘cause I don’t portray anything that I’m
not. I’m secure and comfortable with who I am. I knew that by me just
being me, I wouldn’t let any of it deter me from what I do. Even with
n*ggas going, ‘G-G-G-G-Unit!’ I still was popping bottles and having
fun. If it got too crazy, I’d handle it, but if it was just some people
talking, I’d be like, ‘Good for you, n*gga. I’m glad you’re
down with G-Unit. Hope you’re getting a check.’ [Laughs]
album is real special, because when you make records, you’re telling
stories. Things you’ve been through, and sh*t you’ve seen. Whatever.
It’s always a story that you’re telling to the public, that listeners
never know if it’s real or not. they never really know if it’s authentic
or not, unless you’ve been in the game as long as I have, and you’ve
been through all I’ve been through. Now, people know exactly what I’m
talking about on the records. This album is really special ‘cause people
can really relate to what I’m saying on it. They’ve been through
all of the things with me. I feel people can really relate and feel this album
more than my other ones ‘cause they have seen me endure through everything.
Right now, I’m
just having fun with this. It isn’t about the money. I’m just having
fun and making records, ‘cause I love to do it. I’m doing films,
and bringing up new talent that’s coming. I love seeing Ashanti and Lloyd
come up and become big stars. I love that. I wanna see Cadillac Tah and Black
Child blast off next. N*ggas did it for me back before the Venni Vetti Vicci
days, so I love being able to do it now.