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Rap Biographies: Ja Rule

Ja Rule
Jeffery Atkins(born February 29, 1976 in Hollis, Queens), better known as Ja Rule, is an American rapper and actor.

Ja Rule is especially noted for his gruff, gravelly voice, garnering numerous comparisons to the similar-sounding DMX, which eventually started a hip-hop feud between the former friends. His rough vocals are often used in a more flowing, less rapping style alongside female R&B singers in what has led some to nickname Ja Rule "the rap singer." Rule has refuted this claim by stating that he likes to rap because he doesn't have to sing.

Ja Rule first appeared on the song, "Time to Build" with fellow rappers Jay Z and DMX on Mic Geronimo's debut album, "The Natural." He also appeared with 0-1 and Chris Black as part of Cash Money Click. In 1998, he had signed to Def Jam Recordings, with his first major appearace alongside Jay-Z on the song "Can I Get a...". In 1999, he released his solo debut, Venni Vetti Vecci, and had a hit with the single "Holla Holla".

Following the success of 1999, Ja Rule receded from the media spotlight for the majority of 2000, returning in October with his follow-up album, Rule 3:36. This album found him moving in more adventurous directions, broadening his palette of styles to include some more melancholic songs such as the lead single, a collaboration with Christina Milian titled "Between Me and You."

In 2000 Ja Rule released Rule 3:36, his second album. The first single was "Between Me and You" featuring Christina Milian. which proved to be a hit and was followed up by another great single, "Put It On Me" featuring Vita. The last single, "I Cry" also featured Lil Mo.

In the fall of 2001, Ja Rule released his third album, Pain Is Love. The first single, "Livin' It Up" was a massive hit which featured guest vocals by R&B singer Case and sampled Stevie Wonder's "Do I Do". The follow up single, "Always On Time", was released in December of that same year and was yet another success for the rapper. The song was notable as it introduced the public to singer Ashanti, who performed on the songs chorus. The album also featured the successful remix I'm Real with Jennifer Lopez. Finally, the album included the song 'So Much Pain', a tribute to 2Pac, in which Ja Rule mixed his own lyrics with 2Pac's. Pain Is Love was certified 6x platinum.

Ja Rule released The Last Temptation, his fourth studio album in November of 2002. Although the album was fairly successful (it was certified platinum), it failed to carry the momentum brought by Rule's previous album. Lead singles, 'Thug Lovin' and 'Mesmerize' (featuring Bobby Brown and Ashanti, respectively) were successful hits; however, a backlash from upcoming rapper 50 Cent hindered any further success.

Blood In My Eye was Rule's fifth album and is most notable for its extensive "diss" tracks aimed at rapper 50 Cent, Eminem, Dr. Dre and others. It was certified gold in the U.S., a relative disappointment compared to his previous record sales.

Ja Rule appeared on the celebrity remake of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On", with proceeds going to Artists Against AIDS Worldwide and to help with the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

In early 2002, Rule again collaborated with Jennifer Lopez on her single, "Aint It Funny." This, along with the previous single, "I'm Real", created two of the most successful hits of Lopez's career.

Ja Rule appeared on the song, "Rainy Dayz", which was added to a 2002 re-release of Mary J Blige's most recent album, 2001's No More Drama. "Rainy Dayz" became another successful song in which a female vocalist's singing complimented Rule's own unique style of rapping.

On a bonus disc on The Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter, Ja Rule made an appearance on the track "Want That Old Thing Back", with Ralph Tresvant.

As the flagship artist for producer Irv Gotti's Def Jam-affiliated Murder Inc. label, Ja Rule became the rap industry's most commercially successful artist during the early 2000s, working closely with the hitmaker and his stable of talent. Ja initially won over a sizable following with Venni Vetti Vecci (1999), his rather hardcore debut album modeled largely after the style of rugged thug rap then popularized by DMX and the Ruff Ryder collective.

In particular, "Holla Holla" became a breakout hit, but in retrospect it was a minor success relative to what Ja accomplished a year later with his follow-up album, Rule 3:36 (2000). On this album, Gotti juxtaposed the rapper's thuggish style with a trio of radio-friendly vixens - Christina Milian, Lil' Mo, and Vita - and produced three enormous hit singles: "Between Me and You," "I Cry," and "Put It on Me." These duets established the template for Ja's following album, Pain Is Love (2001), which featured yet more chorus-singing divas, this time Jennifer Lopez ("I'm Real") and Ashanti ("Always on Time"), as well as a similarly styled interpolation of Stevie Wonder's "Do I Do" ("Livin' It Up") featuring Case on the hook.
 
By 2002, Ja alone had brought Gotti's Murder Inc. label into the national spotlight and helped break successive artists from the label, most notably Ashanti, who collaborated with him on "Down 4 U," yet another chart-topping hit. Roughly around this same time, Ja used his fame to launch a minor acting career for himself, beginning with The Fast and the Furious (2001), and he began to attract attention from his peers, uniting with Nas on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards and squabbling with DMX in the press. Later that year he released The Last Temptation (2003), which again paired him with urban vocalists for a few singles, this time with Bobby Brown ("Thug Lovin'") and Ashanti ("Mesmerize"). A backlash mounted around this time, as upstart rapper 50 Cent began hurling numerous disses at Ja. Increasingly susceptible to the criticism, he returned with as much vengeance as he could muster on 2003's Blood in My Eye and the following year's R.U.L.E. Exodus, a best-of with a couple new tracks, was released in late 2005.

While it is not certain how the rap feud began, Ja Rule and rapper 50 Cent have engaged in numerous "diss" tracks aimed at each other and each others associates. A common story told throughout the hip hop community is that Ja Rule spotted 50 Cent alongside a man who had supposedly robbed Ja Rule of a necklace. 50 Cent alleges that, at the time, he did not know this fact. On 50 Cent's debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', the rapper traded insults with Ja Rule on numerous tracks involving Murder Inc. and Rule's mentor Irv Gotti along with labelmate Black Child. The battle between the two garnered a significant amount of attention from the media. In early 2006 a new track titled '21 Gunz' surfaced on the internet featuring Ja Rule and other label mates from The Inc. The song was, in effect, a diss towards 50 cent and G-Unit, with numerous threats on the rapper's lives, finalizing that the feud between the two rappers has not been settled.

Eminem became involved with Ja Rule over Rule's involvement with The Source, a popular hip-hop magazine, and with Eminem's involvement with 50 Cent. Numerous "diss" tracks were traded back and forth by both rappers, but as of 2006, it appears that the feud has ended with both rappers claiming that they want no more problems. Eminem has discussed his feelings concerning the feud with his single, "Like Toy Soldiers."

Ja Rule released "R.U.L.E." in late 2004, and had minor hits with "Wonderful" (featuring R. Kelly), "New York" (featuring Fat Joe and Jadakiss), and "Caught Up" (featuring Lloyd). The album was certified gold in the U.S.

In December of 2005, a greatest hits album was released, titled "Exodus Greatest Hits." Rule has stated that this may be his last album as he has fulfilled his contract with The Inc., his record label, and wants to concentrate on other aspects of his career.

In early 2006, rumors began to appear on the internet that Ja Rule was working on a new album; however, this has yet to be confirmed by any official representative for the rapper. After the release of a new track titled '21 Gunz,' it seems as though Ja Rule may be poised for a comeback.
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