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Did Ja Rule ever exist?

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Did Ja Rule ever exist?

By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

As he sits in prison, watching the time pass in slow motion, Ja Rule remembers the time when he was the most in-demand figure in hip hop. During this time, Ja Rule was breaking records for most record spins and highest selling albums in Def Jam history. After achieving high goals set, many feel as if they will never be dethroned. If Ja Rule ever felt this way, he was proven wrong in the worst way, as he watched cross-town rival, 50 Cent, make a mockery of his career, whilst usurping his style and fan base. There has been much negativity surrounding anything Ja Rule over the past decade, he has made the most of it, fresh off the release of his PIL 2 (Pain is Love) album.

The hip hop media outlets, who bothered to cover the album have generally given Ja Rule’s long-awaited seventh album positive reviews. However, most of these reviews come from independent hip hop blogs, as opposed to hip hop authorities, such as XXL and The Source. When Ja Rule released the album, though, many flocked to all the hip hop media outlets reporting the story. Given the sales of the album, less than 5,000 after three weeks, many only tuned in to see if Rule would follow-through in releasing the album. This is surprising, seeing how Ja Rule used to release an album every year. Fans grew to expect a new Ja Rule album every November.

Before the release of the new album, Ja Rule would tease fans throughout the year. By the time summer arrived, Rule would have another anthem for the fans and a high-profile collaboration. Ja Rule topped this off in 2002, when he recruited Bobby Brown, of New Edition, for his The Last Temptation album. Even with the backlash from hardcore hip hop fans, the future seemed bright for Ja Rule, as he had been embraced in the pop world and was preparing to fully focus on his acting career. Things changed when 50 Cent released his debut album and began dissing Ja Rule, suddenly making their once-street feud worldwide.

As 50 Cent’s career skyrocketed, Ja Rule watched his fan base evaporate, fans forgetting how many hits he delivered in a relative short period of time. Regardless of how professional or famous a person is, being ridiculed in the media takes its toll. Ja Rule was obviously hurt by the backlash, but he could always take pride in still being the topic of discussion, as he continued to make headlines. But, once his deal with Def Jam ended, Ja Rule was not re-signed by the label, thus no new album came. With his career hanging on by a thread, the lack of new music led to Ja Rule being an afterthought before the end of 2005, after starting the year strong with his “New York” anthem.

Experiencing so many losses, all within months of each other, it would have been easy to be bitter, but Ja Rule took it all in stride, as a learning experience. Losing the label deal and facing the backlash had to hurt, but the fact that no one even acknowledges what Ja Rule contributed to the game has to be the death blow. When Ja Rule’s name is brought up, it is usually a part of some sort of joke, as he receives minimal respect in the media. For someone who has posted so many hit records, working with Bobby Brown, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, DMX, Mary J. Blige, Lloyd, before he became one of rap’s go-to hook men, Ashanti, and Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule is only mentioned when he is mocked.

There has been a lot of discussion about the New York City hip hop scene, as French Montana has risen from the mixtape level to gain notoriety all over the world. Following French Montana, there is A$AP Rocky, Mike Classic, PUSH!, and many other rappers making noise. Many hip hop publications have been chronicling the New York hip hop scene, especially when there was a lack of new talent coming from the area. While Ja Rule experienced pop success, his base was the hip hop audience. But, when several renowned hip hop websites and magazines “crowned” the “Kings of New York,” Ja Rule’s name is noticeably missing, when he was the biggest rapper in the game from 2000 through 2002.

Is Ja Rule a mind-blowing lyricist? No. However, the former Murder Inc. Records star is capable of putting lyrics together which make many listeners press rewind to catch what he said. Even though it is not the “in” thing to like, or even credit, Ja Rule, he is one of the biggest hitmakers of all-time. Ja Rule has written songs for some of the greatest entertainers of all-time and he hailed from the rough Queens streets, just like his G-Unit rivals. But, when it came to creating music, the two crews took different routes, G-Unit catering to hardcore hip hop fans and Ja Rule crafting pop hits, which are still given credit a decade after their release, but the name noticeably missing is Ja Rule.

Seeing the way Ja Rule is treated, other than when there are articles about him, it makes those who follow the rapper wonder if he ever did dominate the game or if it was some sort of dream. Did Ja Rule ever exist?

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