Ja Rule, born Jeffrey Atkins, is an American rapper, singer and actor, from Queens, New York.
Atkins was born in the Queens borough of New York City. At an early age he was diagnosed with dwarfism. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness by his mother, health care worker Debra Atkins, and grandparents. When Atkins was five, his mother gave birth to a stillborn baby named Kristen, leaving him as an only child. (He talks about Kristen in the song “Daddy’s Little Baby.”) Atkins attended Public School 134 in Hollis, a school he has described as having a predominantly black student body. He said he got into many fights at the school because of his dwarfism, so his mother transferred him to Middle School 172 in Glen Oaks, which he described as a “white school”. Atkins earned his GED in February 2012.
Atkins began his rap career in 1993 with his hip hop group Cash Money Click. He told Curtis Waller of MTV News that his stage name “Ja Rule” came from a friend who addressed him by that name; other friends called him “Ja”. In 1995, he made his first appearance on Mic Geronimo’s “Time to Build”, which featured Jay-Z and DMX, who were also in their early stages of their careers. In 1998 he had signed with Irv Gotti’s The Inc. Records (at the time named Murder Inc. Records) which was an imprint label under Def Jam, and along with Amil, he was featured on Jay-Z’s hit single “Can I Get A…”, for which Ja Rule wrote the hook.
Ja Rule’s debut album Venni Vetti Vecci was released in 1999, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard 200 with 184,000 copies sold in its first week. It eventually reached platinum status in the US due to the popularity of the hit single, “Holla Holla”, which reached #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Ja Rule released Rule 3:36 in 2000, Pain is love in 2001, The Last Temptation in 2002, Blood In My Eye in 2003, R.U.L.E in 2004, The Mirror in 2009, Pain Is Love 2 in 2012, and is rumoured to be working on a final album.
In April 2001, Ja Rule married Aisha Murray. The couple have three children; Brittany (born 1995), Jeffrey Jr. (born 2000), and Jordan (born 2004).
Ja Rule is a Christian. Ja Rule became a Christian in 2013 when he was promoting the movie I’m in Love with a Church Girl. Ja Rule has spoken about his faith saying, “I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want people to misconstrue what I’m doing here. I’m taking baby steps, and I want to get closer to God. I feel it’s something you should do in life.”
In 2003, he allegedly punched a man in Toronto, who later sued. The issue was settled out of court.
In 2004, police investigated whether a feud involving The Inc. led to a fatal shooting outside a nightclub party hosted by Ja Rule and Leon Richardson where they thought he shot Proof of D12.
On July 1, 2004, Ja Rule was arrested with Don Rhys for driving with a suspended license and possessing marijuana.
In July 2007, Ja Rule was arrested for gun and drug possession charges along with Lil Wayne, and Don Rhys who served eight months in prison during 2010 for attempted possession of a weapon stemming from the arrest. New York Supreme Court judge Richard Carruthers rejected Ja Rule’s argument that the gun was illegally obtained evidence. On December 13, 2010, Ja Rule received a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to attempted possession of a weapon after the aforementioned 2007 concert. On March 8, 2011, Ja Rule’s surrender date for his two-year prison sentence was set for June 8. His publicist said that Ja Rule will turn himself in to authorities. He went to Rikers Island first, then he was sent to a state facility in Upstate New York.
In July 2011, Ja Rule received an additional 28-month prison sentence for tax evasion, to run concurrently with his state term, failing to pay taxes on more than $3 million in earnings between 2004–2006. He was released from state prison on February 21, 2013, but was immediately taken into federal custody for the tax case, for which he had less than six months remaining on his sentence. Ja Rule was held in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center and was set to be released on July 28, 2013. Ja Rule was released from prison early on May 7, 2013.
Ja Rule has had many very public feuds with other artists, including 50 Cent, Shady Aftermath, Foxy Brown, Lil Mo and DMX.
50 Cent claimed that the feud between himself and Ja Rule began in 1999 after Ja Rule spotted him with a man who robbed him of his jewellery and also because of Ja Rule “trying to be Tupac”. However, Ja Rule claimed the conflict stemmed from a video shoot in Queens because 50 Cent did not like Ja Rule “getting so much love” from the neighbourhood. A confrontation occurred in a New York studio where rapper Black Child, a Murder Inc. artist, stabbed 50 Cent, which resulted in him having three stitches. Ja Rule and 50 Cent each released several tracks aimed at each other with insulting or violent and threatening lyrics. In May 2011, it was confirmed that both Ja Rule and 50 Cent ended the feud. Ja Rule said, “I’m cool. We ain’t beefing no more. We’ll never collaborate. That’s just what it is. You don’t have to be at war with somebody, but it’s also kind of like U.S. and another country that they may not get along with. We don’t gotta go to war, but we’re not friends either. But we can coincide inside of a world. He’s doing him, and he’s not thinking about me, and I’m doing me and I’m not thinking about him.”
Shady aftermath became involved after 50 Cent signed to Shady Records and Aftermath in 2002. Ja Rule stated that he had a problem with Eminem and Dr. Dre for signing someone he disliked. Eminem, Busta Rhymes and other artists from the Shady/Aftermath label, as well as friends of Eminem released tracks aimed at Ja Rule, and of course, Ja Rule released tracks in retaliation.
In January 2003, while co-hosting 106 & Park: Prime, singer Lil’ Mo sent a shout-out to 50 Cent, just seconds after she premiered a Ja Rule video. The incident sparked an outrage with Ja Rule and the Murda Inc. clique. Mo had told the press she assumed BET was going to edit out the shout, furthermore she didn’t think the gesture would cause such an uproar. In response, Ja Rule released the diss track “Loose Change,” which targeted Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Chris Lighty and Lil’ Mo. Rule rechristened Mo as a “bitch”, and credited himself as the reason why she had any hits. Mo refused to fire back, stating that she “had better things to do.” However, in May 2003, Mo released a freestyle diss to Ja Rule, where she rapped, “Used to be my homie, used to be my ace, now I can’t stand you, yeah I wanna slap the taste out your mouth.”
In April 2003, additional controversy surrounding lack of recognition and payment for Lil’ Mo’s contributions on records “I Cry” and “Put It on Me” was brought to attention. Mo told MTV News, “Those two records ruled 2001. The whole world knows that if I speak the truth, I can’t apologize. I helped that brother sell 3 million records, and I don’t have a plaque.” Mo went on to contrast the situation with Jay-Z, where the Brooklyn-native rapper gave Mo recognition; a plaque, a thank you card and a bottle of Cris for her work on “Parking Lot Pimpin'”. In 2005, Lil’ Mo filed a lawsuit against Ja Rule, Murda Inc. and Def Jam Records for over $15 million. In 2010, the two reconciled. Lil’ Mo stated that she ended the dispute due to the decline of Ja Rule’s career and noted that “life is too short, You just never know what people are going through.” In 2011, the two reunited and recorded a track together titled, “U & Me”.
DMX and Jay-Z guest-starred on the single “It’s Murda” from Ja Rule’s first album. Ja Rule had previously feuded with Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent; all of which had been resolved or faded from significance. DMX accused Ja Rule of copying DMX’s signature “gruff style”. DMX said that he wanted the feud to end when he was released from jail in 2005: “Gotti came to me in jail and said I want to make peace with you and him. I was like, ‘Alright Gotti, let’s do it.” DMX and Ja Rule finally ended their feud at VH1’s 2009 Hip Hop Honours.
With all the drama of Ja Rule’s beefs now resolved, let’s go back to 2001 with Livin’ It Up.