Jeffrey Atkins has been getting hit from every direction with negativity for about 2 years now, being ridiculed, questioned, second guessed by just about everyone. It almost seemed like he would need a miracle to regain the respect of anyone who now doubted him, which was everyone. In his featured cover story in Vibe Ja spoke on how he was prepared to make the comeback of a lifetime, even he knew just how focused he would need to get in preparing to make his new album titled R.U.L.E. Usually we know exactly what to expect from Rule in his albums, because for the most part he has been reluctant to change anything in his music throughout his career of 5 albums until Blood In My Eye. Blood In My Eye was only molded from his anguish he went through with you know who, Curtis Jackson. After that album hit Irv Gotti stated to the media that Ja would be going back to his “old formula” which had brought him so much success prior to being rattled with bullets of doubt from all directions. But the question remained, “How is this going to work? How are the people going to respond?”, because just about everyone agreed that they were tired of his “formula” and no longer had a desire for the music he was making. But out of all of this came R.U.L.E.
The album starts with a pointless Intro. But then the first track, Last Of The Mohicians, begins with a dark pounding upbeat instrumental. Ja’s voice and flow sound great on this track, which also features Black Child on the hook. Rule shows that he’s prepared to unleash some improved lyrics with this album, “Beg the Lord for forgiveness, cause I sin, I’m a sinner, But I win, I’m a winner, I’m runnin a marathon and you niggas is sprinters.” This track is fire and Black Child lays down the nicely written hook with some authority and emotion. This is followed up with the single Wonderful featuring R. Kelly and Ashanti. You can’t deny that Ja has a talent for writing huge hit songs, this would have been one if the people weren’t still hating him so much. The track New York is really makin some noise here in New York, with guest appearances from Fat Joe and Jadakiss, this song truly is a problem and has the potential to be a hit similar to Lean Back. Fat Joe raps “True Story, I’m bringin the team back, even Roy Jones was forced to Lean Back.” This song was built for the streets, huge track.
There are 3 pointless skits on the album that he deffinately could’ve left off, so they just get skipped. What’s My Name is a solid track, but is more of a party type of track. Ja sounds good on this and shows off his talent for song writing, but if you don’t like Ja because of these types of tracks then you won’t like this 1 and will end up listening once and skipping. Get It Started featuring Claudette Ortiz is another 1 of these types of tracks as well, it reminds me alot of a Jay-Z influenced song. Ja does well with this and the hook is catchy and nicely layed down by Claudette Ortiz. The Manual is a track made for the *****es and about *****es, Rule’s voice sounds nice on this layed back beat.. “No introduction, when I met her she was girl interrupted, grew up became a woman not to be trusted, frustrated and flustered, livin amongst these theives, hoes, and hustlers.” So far the album started off very solid and showed off Ja’s talents well.
At this point the album punches the accelerator and never slows down. Starting with the title track, R.U.L.E. Many of you may have already heard this track because it’s been on some mixtapes and getting some play in the New York area for a while now. Ja Rule completely rips this track apart. Murdering both of his verses with a fast paced growling flow, and speaking on some things that are on his mind.
“Nobody’s livin life the way that I live it Nobody’s spittin it the way that I spit it But who *****in admitted, I wanted the bigger figures Than niggas that done did it, and had it and dealt with it When they’re just after my lyrics So by the time that they hear it, the crimes already committed Natural born killer, plus that im already admittin Murda was the case, but I have since been aquitted The agency’s gettin livid, they wanted us to be finished But we got unfinished business, as God as my witness”
Caught Up featuring Lloyd is the next track. Lloyd has been having a good year ever since The Inc signed him, with 2 hit singles of his own. He and Ja have a great chemistry together. This song has potential to be as big of a hit as an Always On Time type of song.. great song. Now we move on to Gun Talk, a straight gangsta track. Great production on this 1 and a really nice hook. This features Black Child and shows Ja’s grimy side at it’s best.. “Real talk, The Inc bout to run New York, cause there’s no real niggas left to hold the torch, who gon’ hold us off.” This tracks hard.. 1 of the best on the album , and Black Child really shines as well as Rule with his own verse. Ja is obviously talking about 50 Cent/ G-Unit in the hook showing that his anger is still there to an extent. Now we move on to Never Thought, probably my favorite on the whole album. The production is strong and Ja’s lyrics are as advanced as they’ve ever been shown. Shades of Jay comin from Ja’s voice.. I can’t stop listenin to this track. It’s about Ja’s situation with a woman who is a complete opposite of him, this shit’s gangsta and raw. At this point the album is strong and is increasing in strength with every track.
Life Goes On featuring Trick Daddy and Chink Santana is the next track. Im assuming Chink produced this, and he did an amazing job. This song is deep and is about their love for their peers and those who have died. Trick Daddy and Ja’s voices contrasting works very well to push this track completely over the edge. Chink surprisingly drops a solid verse of his own as the third verse. The hook is layed down very well. Great message in the song and performance by the 3 of them. Where I’m From featuring Lloyd is AMAZING, this will be most people’s favorite track im guessing. Ja is being very deep and emotional, pouring his feelings out all over this with Lloyd crooning on the hook just murdering the track. Arguably the best song we’ve heard this year from ANY rapper.
“Kids get killed in ghetto’s, shot up over their Carmelo’s While their mommas at home, tears hitting the pillow Reverand in the middle of the sermon at the funeral Shed a tear cuz he lost his son the same way a year ago It’s the same me but spiritual, we thuggin in harmony They say death brings life, fair exchange, no robbery If im wrong then pardon me, I’m just tired of poverty Why no niggas in the hood ever hit the lottery? Unless they go lottery, first round in the draft They’ll be dustin off them rounds to slip in the mack Then slip on the mask, then go out and mash And we call it feedin our families, ya’ll call it a tragedy Damn, how I could just kill a man Watch his blood flow like the river, then rinse his blood off my hands If you hearin me speak, please Lord, give me a chance And forgive me for my sins, cause we cleanse.. Where I’m From”
Bout My Business follows this featuring Black Child, Cadillac Tah, and Young Merc. This is another hard gangsta track, and Black Child once again impresses and puts down 2 verses that show surprising promise. At the end Ja steps in and rips a verse.. “Bout my paper, I’m on my gangsta, doin this shit for 10 years, niggas I’m Major, Maebach and all that same behavior.” The last track is called Passion. Ja sing/raps it, somewhat like his songs The Reign or Rock Star for example. The lyrics are very good, he talks to God and he speaks on how everyone doubts him. Nice track to finish the album. R.U.L.E. finishes amazingly strong and perhaps may have saved Ja’s career and may make people realize he belongs in his position in the game. This is the first time Jeffrey Atkins has truly been artistic with an album and made it his own. He’s very personal throughout the album and this freshness may revive Ja Rule.
Music Vibes: 8.5/10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5/10 Total Vibes: 8/10