Ja Rule is regarded as one of the most successful rappers ever in the U.S. He has a musical style that combines hard core rap with heavy metal and pop rhythms, thus creating music that is not just unique, but also has a universal appeal. The versatile singer has also appeared in several movies. Raised in a strict religious home by a single mother, Ja Rule struggled for years to find his own religious identity—he now calls himself spiritual but not religious. From a young age, music was all he wanted to pursue - he never ever considered any other career option. He began his music career with the pop group Cash Money Click but his dreams of making it big with the band was shattered when one of the band members went to prison. Not someone to give up, he strived harder and landed a chance to provide vocals for a single in Jay-Z’s album. The success of the single led him to release his own debut album ‘Venni Vetti Vecci’ which catapulted him to overnight rap stardom.
Childhood & Early Life
Ja Rule was born in the Queens borough of New York City. He was raised by his mother Debra Atkins and his grandparents. His mother was a devout Jehovah’s Witness and raised him in the faith.
He went to Public School 134 where he was often picked up for fights by his schoolmates because of his small size. Tired of the bullying, his mother shifted him to Middle School 172.
He loved music from a young age and always dreamt of becoming a musician. He began writing songs from 1990 onwards.
He became known by the name of Ja Rule while in high school - a nickname his friends had given him.
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He formed the classic hip hop group Cash Money Click along with two friends in 1993 and released some singles in 1995. Their music attracted some attention, but the group could not make it big as one of the partners had a brush with the law and was imprisoned.
Irv Gotti, an acquaintance of Ja rule who worked for Def Jam Records, helped him sign a contract with the label in 1998. He featured on the single ‘Can I Get A …’ on Jay-Z’s album which became an instant hit.
In 1999, he released his debut album, ‘Venni Vetti Vecci’ which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. It became a smash hit and was certified Platinum in the U.S. by the end of the year. The very next year he brought out ‘Rule 3:36’ which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The album eventually went Multi-Platinum.
In 2000, he also made his film debut with the hip hop drama ‘Turn it Up’. It was followed by minor roles in ‘Fast and the Furious’ (2001) and ‘Half Past Dead’ (2002).
His third studio album, ‘Pain is Love’ was released in 2001. It featured three top ten hit singles and became his most commercially successful album so far. It also topped the Billboard 200.
He released his album ‘The Last Temptation’ in 2002. This album also became a smash hit spawning two hit singles ‘Thug Lovin’ and ‘Mesmerize’.
His 2003 album ‘Blood in My Eye’ was described as a hate album aimed at the rappers of Shady/Aftermath. It was released during his on-going feud with 50 Cent, Eminem and D12.
He played Agent Thompson in the 2003 horror comedy parody film ‘Scary Movie 3’. The movie received mixed reviews but was praised for its humour and satire.
His sixth studio album, ‘R.U.L.E’ was out in 2004. It contained the hit songs ‘Wonderful’, ‘New York’ and ‘Caught Up’.
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He was given a major role in the 2005 movie ‘Back in the Day’ where he played Reggie Cooper, a young man who wants to avoid gang violence but is forced to get involved in it.
More recently, he appeared in minor or supporting roles in ‘Don’t Fade Away’ (2009), ‘Wrong Side of Town’ (2010) and ‘The Cookout 2’ (2012).
He became a pop sensation with his debut album ‘Venni Vetti Vecci’ (1999) which featured the super hit single ‘Holla Holla’. The album went Platinum in the U.S within a few months.
His second album ‘Rule 3:36’ (2000) spawned the big time hit ‘Between Me and You’. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was accredited Multi-Platinum in the U.S and Platinum in Canada.
‘Pain is Love’ (2001) was his most commercially successful album. It featured the hit songs ‘Livin It Up’ and ‘Always on Time’. It went Multi-Platinum and was nominated for the Grammy for Best Rap Album.
Awards & Achievements
He won the World Music Award for the Best-selling Rap Artist in 2002.
He was presented the BET Award for the Best Male Hip Hop Artist in 2002.
He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards so far but he is yet to win one.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Aisha Murray in 2001 and the couple has three children.
His professional life has always been marred by controversies. He was involved in much publicized feuds with rappers 50 Cent and Eminem. He also has had brushes with law for tax evasion and drug possession.
His song ‘Furious’ was featured on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Fast and the Furious’.
He has a tattoo in memory of his sister who died when he was very young.