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, attending Junior High School in Floral Park where he met his future wife Aisha Murray and they graduated 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 said that he used to go to a school in Queens, but transferred to a private school in Manhattan because of bullying due to his small height. During his interview with Louis Farrakahn, he stated that he was the only black student at the school. Ja said that because of that the other kids didn't bother him.
At age 15, Atkins appeared with 0-1 and Chris Black as part of Cash Money Click, and this would lead to him being signed by TVT Records. He would end up being heard by a young DJ who called himself DJ Irv, then later Irv Gotti. Gotti was a friend of Jay-Z and he was also a DJ for Def Jam Recordings. During the mid 90's, his main priority was meeting Ja Rule and making him the center of his career, and wanted to sign Ja to his new label, Murder Inc. Records. He wanted Ja because of his distinct deep voice. After Irv was able to sign Ja along with DMX and Jay-Z to Def Jam. He, along with Russell Simmons, began to have an idea that they all would work together. They formed a group named Murder Inc.. They recorded many songs together and were featured on other albums when at least two members were on an album they were considered Murder Inc. After the launch of DMX's career, the group faded out of existence as they would only make one more appearance on a song together. Despite all of this exposure, Ja Rule was still relatively unknown as a rapper, so the people at Def Jam came with an idea to launch Ja Rule's career through the success of Jay-Z. Jay would appear on his album and Ja would return the favor as they briefly became associated acts. Through Ja Rule's collaborations with most of the Def Jam roster, he had made himself a household name and became one of the most popular rap acts as he would begin his long successful track as a rapper. He became known as a mainstream rapper when he was featured on Jay-Z's Can I Get A... alongside Amil. He quickly catapulted himself to the most popular rapper in the game and was considered as one of Def Jam Recordings' 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, Nemisis, 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 was ridiculed by critics for its commercial sound, which completely abandoned the dark street sound of his debut. Despite this, the album fared well on the charts and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts. The album would be a huge success 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. Despite the heavy criticism, it would still be fairly popular and is noted for bringing Bobby Brown back to the music scene. The album features guest appearances from new signees, Young Life, Alexi, Chink Santana, Eastwood, Crooked I, and Nas, who almost signed to the label during that period. Appearances also come from long time-Inc. artists Charli Baltimore, Ashanti, Caddillac Tah, and Bobby Brown. Other guests were Pharrell, and the late Tupac Shakur. The album is noted for one song "Pop Niggaz" with Pharrell, the song is an indirect diss to DMX. Ja's popularity was on the rise during the summer of 2002, featured on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?," and Mary J. Blige's "Rainy Dayz" aside from his own singles.
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 only managed to go gold, his lowest selling to date. On this album, Ja sparked rivalries with many artists on the Interscope Records roster.
Ja Rule returned to form on his sixth studio album, R.U.L.E. released on November 9, 2004. This album would serve as a comeback of sorts for Ja as he saw 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." All three of these singles were major hits in the US. The album featured guest appearances from Ashanti, Lloyd, Trick Daddy, R. Kelly, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Claudette Ortiz, Black Child, Caddillac Tah and many more. R.U.L.E. is considered one of the best albums of 2004 and the best album of Ja Rule's career and many fans and critics alike call this album a classic. The album was certified Platinum in the United States in 2006, and it is the fifth of his six released albums to go platinum.
On December 6, 2005, Ja Rule released his seventh album, which is nothing more than a greatest hits album. It features only one new song "Exodus (Intro)" which is co-produced by Irv Gotti and Dr. Dre. It features all of the hit singles throughout his career. The album was released to honor the contract with Def Jam so that The Inc. could get a fresh start with a new distributor. Despite the album being nothing special it went platinum in early 2006. It featured the hits "New York," "Wonderful," "Between Me And You," "Put It On Me," and many more. Appearances came from Jay-Z, DMX, Irv Gotti, Lloyd, Ashanti, Lil Mo, Christina Milian and Bobby Brown. 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. They were willing to let go of the label, despite the fact that they were giving up Ja Rule, who had been the label's flagship since 2000 even if he wasn't recording music he was keeping the label in the news. From 2004 to 2006, Irv would search for other labels, and reached a deal with Universal Records.
The Mirror (2008)
Template:Unreferencedsection In March, 2008, Ja Rule plans 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. They will appear on the track "Sunset." The album was originally supposed to be titled Love Is Pain as a sequel to his album Pain Is Love. Aside from Ashley Joi, The Game, and Lil Wayne, there will be no guest appearances on this album and will mark the last time that he ever mentions 50 Cent, DMX, or Common. The reasoning towards the title of the album is that it is " the only place where you can't lie to yourself." There have been rumors of a dispute between Irv Gotti and Ja over the release of this album because of it being pushed back from the November date to March 2008. They have said Irv pushed it back due to a lack of airplay of its singles, while Ja thought it was ready. Also their on-screen argument over the release of "Enemy of the State" as a single, Ja wants it out now while Gotti wants to wait until the release date is final.
During the summer of 2007, Ja Rule was arrested for gun and drug possession charges along with Lil Wayne. During 2003, Ja Rule was arrested for assaulting a person taunting him about the 50 Cent feud outside of a nightclub in Toronto, Canada. He would end up suing Ja Rule, but they settled out of court. 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. 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 possession.
Ja Rule met his future wife, Aisha while attending middle school and they would get married soon as they turned eighteen. Despite this, Ja has been romantically linked to other famous female celebrities. There were rumors that Jennifer Lopez had began dating Ja Rule after their collaboration on "I'm Real," which was not long after she had split with Sean Combs. He has even admitted that he has cheated on her before like in the song "Caught Up" and also "I Cry." Many thought that he had begun dating Lil Mo while they were collaborating by looking at how close they would get in their videos. All of these rumors proved to be false as he is married to his wife and they live together in New Jersey with their three children.
Reported prejudice against homosexuality
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 24 October, 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
The Inc. Records
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.
- 1999: Venni Vetti Vecci
- 2000: The Murderers
- 2000: Rule 3:36
- 2001: Pain Is Love
- 2002: The Inc.
- 2002: The Last Temptation
- 2003: Blood in My Eye
- 2004: R.U.L.E.
- 2005: Exodus
- 2008: The Mirror
|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.
|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||Don't Fade Away||TBA||post-production|
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