Underrated: Ja Rule by Blade Brown
Ja Rule is one of the most underrated MCs of all time. Ja is a true hit maker. With several top ten & #1 singles in his resume, you’d be hard pressed to find a rapper who’s had a more successful career than Ja Rule. In the early 2000s, he was arguably the biggest rapper in the world. You could not turn on the radio and not hear either one of his songs or one he was featured on. His career suffered massively after a very public feud with several rappers, most notably 50 Cent. Although 50 Cent can take most of the credit for the damage to his career, does that still take away Ja Rule’s accomplishments? I’m gonna break down Ja’s catalog and explain why he’s UNDERRATED.
Ja’s first album is what many believe to be his best work. Supported by the hit single “Holla Holla“, the album went on to be certified platinum and to this day is still a great body of work. With features from Jay-Z, DMX and Ronald Isley, this was one of the albums that helped the “Def Jam 2000” era have such an impact.
Successfully avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump, Ja’s second album was one of the biggest selling albums of 2000. Shedding himself of the comparisons to DMX, all the album’s singles landed on the top 10 of the billboard 100 charts. The song “Fuck You” would be released as “Furious” and was apart of “The Fast and The Furious” (Read Blade’s “Ranking of the Fast & Furious Franchise“) soundtrack.
The peak of his career. This was the album that made Ja Rule a superstar. It was also his most successful album, selling over 6 million copies worldwide. His second single “Always On Time” went #1 on the charts and is is arguably his biggest hit to date. Another huge record, the Jennifer Lopez assisted “I’m Real” was also featured on this album, and still gets spun in clubs around the world.
Upon its release, Ja stated that the album only took six weeks to record. Unfortunately, it definitely shows. The album doesn’t feel complete, as it sounds formulaic in comparison to the previous two albums. Still better than most albums released today, it was clearly not his best work. And he needed to stay on top of his game, as his nemesis 50 Cent was setting the streets on fire at the time.
At this point, the world had written off Ja Rule. Not only were fans on 106 & Park dissing him, but he was in the middle of lyrical warfare with the entire Shady/Aftermath roster. Not to mention DMX and Busta Rhymes all well. Intended to be a mixtape initially, Ja released this album to the public. Although its his lowest selling major release, the album was a return to form of sorts. While most of the damage had been done, he did regain the attention of those who were fans of the first album with this hard hitting LP.
This was a pivotal moment in Ja’s career. This album is not only underrated, but is just as good as his first album in my opinion. “New York” was a huge record and”Wonderful” reached #2 on the charts. The album was a well rounded body of work, and was a much needed win for Murder Inc records, who were fighting charges from the federal government for Money Laundering, Extortion and Racketeering.
This album was never properly released. After several delays following differences with his new label, Ja released the album for free via the internet after suffering a album leak. Shame, because the album was a solid body of work. Former 50 Cent protégé The Game ended his beef with Ja and is featured on a song called “Sunset“.
“PIL2(Pain Is Love 2)“-2012
Lead Single: Real Life Fantasy
Best Song: Spun A Web
The only independent release he’s ever had, this album was released while he was serving a two year sentence for gun possession. While the album was mostly forgotten about, there are actually a few gems on this CD. Driven by the theme “Fuck Fame”, the album was a lot darker than the original Pain Is Love, but was a fitting concept due to his situation upon its release.
Ja released a mixtape called “The Atkins Files” in 2008. He’s also wrote hit records for Jay-Z(Can I Get A…), Mary J. Blige(Rainy Dayz) & J. Lo(Ain’t It Funny). As well as shared the mic with heavyweights such as Nas, LL Cool J, Method Man & Redman, Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, N.O.R.E, Fat Joe, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Crooked I and more. Since his release from prison, he’s out a book titled Unruly: The Highs and Lows of becoming a man. He also has a reality show with his wife and kids called “Follow The Rules” set to debut in 2015. He’s also working on a new album called “Genius Loves Company“.
People can deny it all they want. But Ja Rule has had a great career. He’s been the hero and the villain, but his legacy should just judged off of his music, and not personal opinion. And you’re lying to yourself if you don’t think this man is talented. Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins is 100% UNDERRATED.
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