There was a time when Ja Rule ruled the pop charts with his hit melodic rap formula… and then 50 Cent came along and the rest is history. VIBE caught up with the former Murder Inc. capo to reflect on his rise, his fall and his rebirth —Datwon Thomas
VIBE: What’s the last two years been like for you?
On the music side it’s been crazy ’cause I really didn’t have no vehicle to put any music out properly. The [Universal] deal, it blew up… [Irv] Gotti and Sylvia [Rhone] and everybody didn’t see eye-to-eye. So we thought it would be best if we didn’t put the project out over there and just walked with it. Instead of me walking with it, I just put out [The Mirror album] free for the fans. It was like, fuck it. The album is a good album.
What do you feel was the feedback from what you put out there?
It was love in certain areas but there were a lot of haters, too. At that time, that’s how I was judging everything—on the haters. Because they start to fade away, you start to see less and less, less and less. The love is there; I wasn’t concentrating on the people that love because it was there. I had to concentrate on what the haters were saying and how they were moving and how the tables were starting to turn a little bit.
Did you see people that were hating on you the last few years start turning in your favor?
Yeah, I’m starting to now see people that may have hated on me in the beginning are not rooting for me and want to see me win. That to me is big. The best part about it is I’m humbled by it all. I feel like everybody deserves a second chance to do whatever. Really, I feel that my situation was an unfair situation. A very unique, very odd situation. Nobody ever seen anything like that in hip-hop, you know? I laugh when I see people say shit like, “Yo, [50 Cent] kilt Rule, but he didn’t kill Ross.” No disrespect to Ross, but he did 180-something [first week sales of Teflon Don]. I went platinum with R.U.L.E. after I made Blood In My Eye. I look at shit like that and… I don’t know, take it how you want to take it. I was a much bigger selling artist than just platinum so I guess that’s why people felt I took a hit. But the music industry was taking a hit at that time, too. You can’t really judge it or try to make an issue out of it, or an excuse. It just is what it is. To me it’s just one of the weirdest moments in hip-hop. It’s to where the fans feel like they were duped almost like, “This nigga shitted on this nigga for one thing and turned around and did the same thing.” As that thought started to get around to people, it started to change for me. I’m just proud and happy that the people can vibe and fuck with the music.
Where do you get the inspiration to keep making music? Even though you were going through that, you’ve got to find inspiration somewhere and it seemed like you had a constant stream of haters and an industry that tried to put you out to pasture.
That don’t mean nothing to me. I genuinely love making music so I think that’s why it never hit me. That’s my therapy. I go and make records when I feel a certain way, express myself in that way. It gets all that shit out of me. I think that was my drive and why I didn’t stop. I just think about what’s in my future right now and what I got to make myself happy and my family happy and still balance what I love to do on this side of things musically and entertainment wise. I’m just having fun with it; I feel that this is an ill position that I’m in. To be in the game 10 years and to have really won on many levels in this music business. To have a chance to comeback and do it again is crazy.
Lil Wayne is locked up right now based on a case he caught after a show at the Beacon Theater in New York. You performed with him as a guest at that show and you have a case that you’re still dealing with. What’s going on with that?
That was a crazy situation. They locked me and Wayne up the same night. It’s been a crazy three years going through this situation. Wayne will be home in November. I’m still facing… a lot of time. So, I’ve got to mentally put my mind on it and work toward… God will see me through it.
Most people would just look at the music side of everything. It seems the possibility of you going to jail hasn’t been publicized as much. How’s that been weighing on you?