Ja Rule is excited. For the past several years, the Inc lead artist has taken a back seat after dominating the early 2000s with a string of chart-topping hits. Now, Rule finds himself on the verge of releasing an official comeback LP this November. But first, he has a special treat for fans in The Mirror, the original studio album that has been leaked in various incarnations since 2007. Ja Rule is ready for a comeback, but are the fans ready for him?
AllHipHop.com: Congratulations on finally getting The Mirror completed, I know youve been working on it for a minute.
Ja Rule: Nah, The Mirrors been done. We just had some issues with it, some leak issues. I aint that nigga to hit my fans with some s**t they heard. Even if two fans heard it, Im not putting it out there for the public. So I went in and made a whole new album. The new album is crazy, but a lot of people didnt hear Mirror. Ive been getting hit on Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook with people asking about The Mirror. So I realized there are a lot of people who didnt hear the s**t. So today theyll get a taste of it.
AllHipHop.com: So youre the one leaking it?
Ja Rule: Actually thats not true. The album was leaked already. I dont know how it got leaked. People could get it and hear it online. That f**ked up my whole project. But I just want people to hear the album who didnt.
AllHipHop.com: This is your first album in about 5 years. With the title, it alludes to facing the truth about yourself once you look in the mirror. What are the big truths you learned about yourself as Ja Rule the artist and man during this past half-decade?
Ja Rule: Its hard for the public to distinguish the truth. They get a persona that you portray or they see on screen, but that may not necessarily be the person that you are. Or they may only know you from the singles you drop and do videos for. A lot of fans dont get to soak up the whole album. With The Mirror, I just wanted people to get an inside look to what it is like to be me and go through what an artist goes through period.
AllHipHop.com: Not to make you feel old, but were right at the 10 year anniversary of Venni Vetti Vecci. Even amongst your biggest critics, thats the album that many concede was executed well. For the fans who love that album, can they expect tracks like Story To Tell and Its Murda, or will they get more Mesmerize and the other radio songs that took you to stardom?
Ja Rule: The Mirror is really a compilation of complex and different records. Theyre not all the same. I got records like Father Forgive Me on the album, and Sing a Prayer For Me. These records are completely different. I wanted people to feel those sides of me because Im an artist that likes to grow with each project.
Thats something that people dont understand about artists. If you go to your job everyday and get bored at it sometimes, its the same thing with us, [especially] if you go in the studio and doing the same type of music year after year. You get bored and want to try something new and expand your horizons. When you hear Father Forgive Me, thats me broadening my horizons and moving to something different.
AllHipHop.com: Lets go back to 2007 when you were first wrapping up this project. Were you getting a lot of resistance from Universal, since they were expecting those platinum hits, and you were now seeking to experiment? Was it a struggle getting them to see your vision?
Ja Rule: It wasnt really a fight. The situation just didnt work, it wasnt a marriage. Sometimes its like that. When you see a project do 5 or 10 million that was a project that had good chemistry all around it. Not just through the making of it, but after recording to the marketing and promoting of it. Those are special because everybody is in tune and wants the same thing. It wasnt like that with The Mirror.
I was new over there at Motown. They never got no money with me in the past. I was a Def Jam artist. There was poor communication on both ends.
AllHipHop.com: Were ending the first decade of the 2000s, and pretty much the R&B/Hip-Hop collaborations that people were slamming you for are making a resurgence like they normally do every few years. When you look at todays scene, do you feel it validates you now that people are running or trying to run with the formula you perfected?
Ja Rule: I said it in one of rhymes on Message to Mankind, I gave birth to a style thats way too common now/Niggas cocktailed my shit/Got it all watered down. [laughs] Thats how I feel about it. Like autotune. That was T-Pains sound. And now everybody uses it, and Jay puts out Death of Autotune. Now, T-Pain might have a hard time coming back with his own sound, because so many people saturated and made it not the s**t. I like autotune and think its some fly s**t. Roger Troutman was the first and T-Pain made it his own thing.
With me, I didnt create melodic tunes. There were people doing melodic tunes before me, but I made it my s**t. And thats the difference. When I want to kick it up a notch and do something yall cant do, I do this. We can all go in the booth and spit and go hard at each other. We used to do that all day. Me and X used to go to different spots and battle rhyme. DMX was a battle rhymer back in the day. And with Cash Money Click we would go to video shoots and battle rappers, thats what it was. Its nothing for an artist to go in the booth and spit it. I can do that and rock with anybody.
But that melodic s**t? I did it in a way that no one else could do or even wanted to try. For me that was my special shit that separated me from other artists.
AllHipHop.com: Im sure you used your time away to enjoy your family, and also grow as a human being. So looking at Hip-Hop, do you feel its grown with you, or has regressed from where you left it?
Ja Rule: Hip-Hop changes every few years. I remember a time when dancing was the s**t in Hip-Hop when I was younger: from the cabbage patch, the wop, pee wee herman, the Biz Mark, we had a gang of songs and dance records! And it was cool for us to do that. Now Im 33, and you sound about in my age bracket and that era, and you know Hip-Hop has always been a youthful thing. [The dances] are for the kids to enjoy and have fun.
But Hip-Hop is such a big business now, and we grew up with the music. So now you have fans of all ages. Thats why artists like myself, Jay, and Kanye can come up and still sell records because it grows. I listen to Hip-Hop and Im 33. My kids listen to it. Theyre going to grow up and Im going to get older still listening to Hip-Hop. Then their kids will come up listening to it. So Hip-hop will keep getting bigger as long as we keep putting out good music.
AllHipHop.com: Looking at R.U.L.E. that contained one of the last high-profile NY collaborations to go national in New York. Where do see NY Hip-Hop now in terms of quality?
Ja Rule: [Pauses] Yknow, I dont like to categorize it like that. I feel were all Hip-Hop. Its not music, its a state of mind and way of living. Its the clothes, attitude, walk, and everything that we do. We are different from society, and I dont want to generalize from region to region. We all made Hip-Hop, and grew up loving it. Its not like any other form of music. Other genres dont categorize their s**t by region to region, its all one thing. I feel we should really stop the divide and conquer s**t they try to throw at us. Were all Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: The Uh-Oh joint with Wayne was right as he started building the superstar momentum that has manifested today. Did you foresee him becoming as big as he is?
Ja Rule: Weezy was doing what he wanted to do. You have to do the music that you feel in your heart, because thats what the people will feel. When its coming from there, the people respond. He really put in a lot of work on the underground circuit, mixtapes, and he pleased the people. He loved Hip-Hop. He didnt do it for the money. For about two years straight he said this is for the people and the fans. And thats why he received the love and the rewards. It was a f**king small flame that blew into a fire. He deserved it and worked hard for it.
AllHipHop.com: You have a new label imprint with Empire Records. Are you looking to create a distinct brand away from the Inc or just build onto that movement?
Ja Rule: We made history with Murder Inc. Its incredible to look back at it. But Empire is my movement. [Irv] Gotti is my brother who I love to death, and is supporting me. I guess if you merge the two you have the Inc Empire. [laughs] It is two separate things but still one thing.
AllHipHop.com: You did some venting about DMX and Ashanti on the track Judas, regarding some of the past issues you had with the moves theyve made. Is all that done now, or are there any other past transgressions you needed to let out on The Mirror?
Ja Rule: Nah, I didnt want anyone to look at The Mirror as a diss album. That was a song I felt I had to get off my chest. When I have thoughts I have to get them out my head through song. Judas was just a real record I felt I needed to make. I didnt mean to hurt anyones feelings; I love everyone that was supposedly talked about on that record. I have no problems with anyone.
AllHipHop.com: I remember hearing you speak of the 2002-2003 period as a time when the public just threw you on the hate train for no reason. When you look back at that period, do you think theres anything you couldve done differently to stop it, or do you feel it was a just an inevitable freight train?
Ja Rule: The fans dont get a chance to understand the ins and outs of how things work. I dont think theyre privy to inside information on the underhanded s**t that goes on in this industry. They only get to see what is printed, and perception is reality. That situation and everything around that period in my career didnt make sense. It didnt add up. 2+2=8. [laughs] I look at it now and laugh. Im happy I can because you have to make light of situations like that or youll drive yourself crazy. I know how we move and its just a funny situation, one of those things you deal with in life. God sends you a test, and you have to pull through and show youre a strong dude. That takes a lot for a nigga to stand up and walk through fire when people are throwing stones.
AllHipHop.com: Best case scenario for The Mirror, do you want to recapture that superstar status you had before? After experiencing how quickly people can tear you down, is that a reality you still strive for? Or is having the love of your diehard fans enough?
Ja Rule: I have an uncanny love out there. Theres diehard Ja Rule fans out there, and those that really hate me. But when I look at the reasons people dont like me, it never really resonates. Theyre usually frivolous reasons, never about hating the music. Im not concerned with that. Im concerned with those who understand what goes on in the music business and what happened with all the s**t Ive been through. People like comeback stories, to see someone be on top, fall, and come back to glory. Thats the American story. A lot of people are rooting for me to do that with my situation and my new label. Im getting a lot of love and good feedback. Ive been all over the world. Ive been touring for about four years now overseas and its crazy. People want to see me win and I dont want to let them down. I want to put out that music that people will enjoy.
The Mirror is a present for them to enjoy. Theyll get a chance to enjoy it in its entirety. And its free, you dont have to pay s**t for it. Ill have a mixtape soon and then my new album. I feel it is my time to hit off Hip-Hop.
On The Mirror I didnt do too many guests. I have Weezy, Game, and a lot of new artists who did their thing. Its just a great album. And I got production from my man Erick Sermon and Chink Santana.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the early word on that new album?
Ja Rule: New album coming real soon, looking to drop around October or November. I worked really hard for the fans. Look out for my new label Empire Records and all my new artists. I dont have a title yet. I may do a little contest to get the fans to give some ideas. Im tittering with it every day.
AllHipHop.com: Im sure today the fans who havent heard The Mirror will be eager to give it a listen.
Ja Rule: Yeah man, but Im not trying to get in any trouble with Universal [laughs]. The album was already leaked dont sue me! Its all love, and its getting real crazy. I got a lot of people backing me and its feeling good, my nigga.