“The mirror is your only real moment of truth. It's the place where everybody can go and be honest with themselves.”
Ja Rule – Taking It In
Raised under strict Jehovah’s Witness rules Jeff Atkins (born 2/29/1976) was not allowed to listen to street music but once he heard it Ja Rule was hooked. He decided right then to become a rapper. Defying house rules he smuggled CD’s in to the house and listened to it whenever he could. Being small Jeff attracted abuse from the bigger kids in school. In an attempt to stop the daily fighting Ja was transferred to a predominately white school. The fighting stopped, according to Ja, because now although he was still small but now he was the intimidating tough black kid. Ja Rule attended Martin Van Buren High School but did not graduate. At fifteen Ja Rule hooked up with Cash Money Click and began his rap career. A year later he met Jay-Z and DMX for the first time. In 1995 all three artists were just beginning their climb to fame as hip hop stars and went on to work together on many occasions as The Murderers until friction split the group up permanently.
Early Years – Breaking the rules
Irv Gotti signed Ja Rule to his custom label Murder, Inc and worked closely with him on producing his first album, Venni Vetti Vecci, which was released in 1999. On July 12, 1999 the hardcore thug rap style album was certified platinum by RIAA. Ja Rules second album, Rule 3:36 was released in October 2000 and went to #1 on Billboard Charts immediately. Being a more air wave friendly album time revealed it was to be 3x Platinum. Known today as the most commercially successful rapper during the early 2000’s Ja Rule has sold more than 20 million of the six studio albums he released between 1999 and 2005. After releasing the Exodus album, a best of compilation, in 2005 Ja Rule ended his long association with Def Jam and went quiet until 2007 when his eighth album, The Mirror, was scheduled to be released. Due to leaked material to be used Ja Rule decided to record a completely new album, The Mirror Reloaded. In 2009 Ja Rule teamed up with Brazilian singer Wanessa and recorded Fly which went to #1 in Brazil and has been nominated as the Hit Song of the Year there.
Ja Rules acting career began in 2000 when he played the shifty friend of Pras in Turn It Up and himself in Da Hip Hop Witch along with fellow rappers Pras and Eminem. In addition to playing himself in cameo spots on various films he accepted a couple legitimate acting roles. In 2001, he appeared in the street-racing action flick, The Fast and the Furious with Vin Diesel and in 2002, he was Steven Segal’s friend on death row in Half Past Dead.
Incidents of violence have peppered Ja Rule’s life. Long standing beefs with other hip hop artists escalated to physical altercations several times. Drug and gun possession charges in 2007 revealed that although he is a married man, the father of three children, Ja Rule had not left the tough street thug lifestyle behind. During VH1’s 2009 Hip Hop Honors Ja Rule ended the long standing dispute with DMX. Having signed a deal with Universal Music Group to distribute his record label “MPire Music Group” Ja Rule is looking forward to the release of his upcoming VVV 2010 album on June 1, 2010.
Behind the scenes
Did you know that...
- ...the original 2007 version of The Mirror became a free music download on July 31, 2009.
- ...Ja Rule founded the L.I.F.E Foundation which provides underprivileged children with music, poetry and sports programs.
- ...Ja Rule married his high school sweetheart and the mother of his three children, Aisha , in 2001.