At the tender age of 11, I was a peak Ja Rule and Murder Inc. fanatic. When he was spitting that spine tingling intro from his most successful album Pain is Love at the 2001 Source Awards, that was the specific moment where he became one of the all-time rap greats in my eyes.
During a recent scan of my Instagram feed, I randomly discovered that the legendary producer/CEO Irv Gotti is planning to relaunch the prolific Murder Inc. Records., and to be candidly honest, I had a few mixed emotions, opinions, and a lot of questions about it. Like is the label’s flagship artist Ja Rule going to be a part of it? Would other mainstays like Ashanti and Lloyd give join the blessings? Is Chris Gotti going be the A&R? On foe ‘nem, I still have plenty of questions about this!
Oh and by the way!! I’m about to RE LAUNCH MURDER INC RECORDS!! I got some new artist. New music. Same fucking MOVEMENT! The Worlds Most Talented Record Label. Everyone had a lot of fun. While I had to re group from the Feds coming after me. Had to plot and plan and fall back while I watched everyone else eat. I watched gracefully. I applauded and congratulated everyone who deserved it. Never one bone of hate in my body. I love to see my niggas win and eat. BUT ITS MY TURN NOW!! My Money is right. And I’m back!! Major Announcements Coming Soon. Who Murder Inc will be partnered with. And what Artist I am fucking with!! #murderinc #murda4life #visionaryideas Follow @visionaryideas
But more than anything, that classic Murder Inc. logo posted with the announcement reminded me of the cultural significance and impact that the label had on modern black music. The INC’s influence was so strong during its heyday, much of which is still felt to this very day. I mean, between 2000 and 2002 how many rap labels can you name that dominated both hip-hop and R&B with an iron fist whose CEO wasn’t named Sean Combs? Exactly.
And speaking of Puff, with the success of the epic Bad Boy Reunion Tour, the craving for black music nostalgia is at an all-time high. If Irv Gotti really brought The INC back, fans would be crying to for the original squad to come back like Voltron. For those who followed the notorious label over the years it’s what they deserve: an official Murder Inc. reunion tour.
Especially with their peers like the Ruff Ryders touring again, it would practically be a crime if Ja and company didn’t get together for at least one last hurrah. Granted, we may have seen Ja Rule, Lloyd, and/or Ashanti together again for performances every now and then, but there’s so much more that folks need to experience once again. Hell, out of every major label or clique that existed at the time, including Ruff Ryders, Bad Boy, So-So Def, Roc-A-Fella, No Limit, and Cash Money, they may be the only ones who have yet had an official reunion.
For all of you younger millennials out there, I’m gonna bring briefly bring you up to speed with this one, so bear with me, because it’s story time. Long before Ja Rule’s Fyre Festival disaster, he was the one of the top dogs of the business. His career trajectory started skyrocketing in ’98 when he went from being a member of the Cash Money Click to standing alongside Jay-Z and one time arch nemesis turned ally DMX as part of the fabled super-group “Murdagram” — to then evolve into a superstar in his own right as Gotti’s flagship artist for the INC. Not to mention the fact that Ja in his prime was a heavy-handed, nimble lyricist in the streets and a gravel voiced, passionate lover when he “sung.”
After the success of his debut album, Venni, Vetti, Vecci, Murder Inc. became bigger and better as they brought along more talented artists like his lyrical henchmen Cadillac Tah and Black Child, the underrated female rhyme slayers Vita and Charlie Baltimore and much later, broke ground in R&B as they gave us their beautiful crown jewel Ashanti and in their later years, introduced us to Atlanta crooner Lloyd. And with that came tons of memorable Hip-Hop and R&B hit records, platinum albums that included The Fast & The Furious soundtrack, and essentially being “the Death Row Records” of New York for all its huge success and controversy.
Unfortunately, it all came crumbling down after 2003 for two major reason. One was due to the FBI’s accusations of Irv and Chris Gotti (real name Irving and Chris Lorenzo) laundering money for incarcerated former drug lord Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff which led to a four-year investigation that significantly crippled both the label and the brothers.
The other was due to the unprecedented ascension of a fellow rapper Queens who survived being riddled with bullets and left for dead, only to return with a vengeance… literally. Yes, 50 Cent, who kicked off ’03 with the release of his magnum opus, Get Rich or Die Trying, violently snatched NYC away from anyone and everyone who wasn’t named Shawn Carter at the time. Fif’s dominance and their blood feud in the streets lead to one of the most heated and ugliest rap beefs since Tupac and Biggie. I vividly remember being 13 at the time when things spiraled out of control to the point where The Honorable Louis Farrakhan was summoned to help squash it. His relentless assault combined with Ja having to serve a two-year sentence for a gun charge proceeding that had permanently marred his rap career to the point where fans, artists, and executives alike turned their back on him for a very long time.
Fast forward to 2017, where up until the infamous festival, Ja Rule has maintained some renewed success outside of music. Meanwhile, Irv and Chris Gotti slowly climbed their way back to the top with the forthcoming Tales series and Add Ventures Music — respectively. Given that the climate has long since changed and so many artists have all been influenced by Murder Inc. (whether they would admit it or not), it’s time that the label get it together for a full-fledged reunion tour.
It’s a practical idea given the fact that Irv Gotti is plotting to breathe new life into the defunct label. There would be so many opportunities along with it such as introducing fans to the new artists they intend to push and to show who would take Ja’s old role as the franchise player. But more importantly, it would re-introduce The INC’s glorious history to a brand new generation of fans like the Bad Boy and Ruff Ryders reunions tours.
Now, of course it would be lit to see Ja and Ashanti perform their classic duets like “Always on Time” and “Mesmerize” along with their solo hits like “Holla Holla” and “Happy.” However, consider the full extent of all their hits and collaborations. Lloyd’s solo set alone would be insane as it would (hopefully) include the likes of Scarface, Lil Wayne, and dare I say Andre 3000. Ashanti’s solo set would be amazing as well when you think about the memorable hits she contributed to during her career. It would be loaded with timeless melodies such as “Movies”, “Rain on Me”, “Only You”, “Rock With U”, and like I mentioned earlier her many duets with Ja Rule.
But hold on, it gets even more epic from there. Ja Rule has made some star studded history over the years with the likes of—get ready– The Game, Lil Wayne, Case, KXNG Crooked, Fat Joe, Christina Milan, R.Kelly, and Nas, Method Man, Jennifer Lopez, Bobby Brown, N.O.R.E., Jadakiss, Mary J. Blige, and Birdman. That’s damn near a mini music festival within itself! I guarantee you that tour would rock both Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center when Ja is able to perform his features like J.Lo’s “I’m Real” and “Ain’t it Funny” remixes, Fat Joe and Ashanti’s “What’s Love”, his collabo with Nas and Ashanti, “The Pledge”, and I could go on and on. And I sh** you not that if Joey Crack and Jada get together to perform “New York”, there will be an earthquake in NYC! It would that epic.
Although their prime was not as lengthy as Cash Money Records or Bad Boy, Murder Inc. Records is equally one of the most important rap labels in the grand scheme of the culture and it deserves to be appreciated again. Ja Rule helped lay down the foundation many of the singing rappers follow today.
Murder Inc., despite all its controversy and backlash, managed to permanently make a positive musical impact on black music through its long roster of hits. They were one of the best crews to have ever done it, and if they finally give us that reunion tour, the world will be reminded of thee greatness.
“When the gun blows/And the shots fall/And the smoke clears/We’ll be right here/Screaming Murda/Know its Murda/We’ll be right here.”