Ja Rule – Pain Is Love

Ja Rule - Pain Is LoveHate him or love him, Ja Rule’s contributions to the hip-pop game are undeniable. From 1999 to 2003, Ja Rule literally went from a “DMX knockoff” to the king of R&B collaborations. His track record speaks for itself; and up until the overwhelming media backlash in 2003, Rule topped the charts. While his first offering ‘Venni Vetti Vicci’ was aimed at the hardcore audience DMX so quickly took advantage of, Rule returned in 2000 with the more radio friendly “Rule 3:36”. “Pain Is Love” is his third album, and was released in late 2001.

1.) Pain Is Love (Skit)

Ja Rule sets off his third offering talking over a menacing instrumental while police sirens can be heard in the background, but can later be heard singing in the background. Not the best way to open up the album.

2.) Dial M For Murder

Over slow and thuggish production, Ja spits what one would call his life story. While the lyrics are subpar and the hook features more whining from Rule, Ja’s delivery and the production make for a listenable track.

3.) Livin It Up feat. Case

Chances are if you were a hip hop fan in 2001; you’ve probably heard this song at least 50 times. This pop fueled collaboration with Case features a classic Stevie Wonder rendition. Rule croons the hook (with the now-too-typical tale of sex, drugs, and rock n roll), and offers a suprisingly good single that had everyone vibing. Good song.

4.) The Inc. feat. Cadillac Tah, Black Child, Ashanti

Over another pounding instrumental, Ja and the Murderers (Black Child, Cadillac Tah) show a glimpse of Rule’s street side. Great, great beat; and even Ashanti finds her way on to the end of the song, giving it some extra flavor. Great song.

5.) Always On Time feat. Ashanti

This song is the perfect example of the gift (and curse) that Ja had; and that’s making sing song collabo’s for the radio. While it got him to the top; this song is nothing more then a “I love my lady” type of songs. Decent song at best; but definatley not a banger.

6.) Down Ass ***** feat. Charli Baltimore

“Every thug needs a ladyyyyy!!” just about sums this track up. After the mediocre performance Rule served up with “Always On Time”, Ja returns with this God awful mess of a song. Featuring Charli Baltimore, this features Rule singing to his women, once again. Although heralded as his calling card, he’s clearly capable of much more. Skip it.

7.) Never Again

Just when a listener of this album thought it couldn’t get any worse, it does just that. This is yet another song with Rule performing/whining the hook with an off key pitch. Rule’s apologized to enough women, and simply didn’t need to do it again on this track. Skip it.

8.) Worldwide Gangstas feat. The Murderers

This should be more of what’s expected from a good Ja Rule album. Over thorough New York production, the entire Murder Inc. roster spits flames over this street banger; with Ja rapping the final (and best verse) on the song. Great track.

9.) Leo (Skit)

After the last song, I think it’s safe to say everyone expected more. Now, while most skits are overlooked on albums, there are a few that actually contribute to the album. This is definatley not one of them. Rule’s “Miss Cleo” imitation is neither necessary, nor funny. Skip it.

10.) I’m Real (Murda Mix) feat. Jennifer Lopez

Quite possibly Rule’s biggest hit to date, this track (featuring Jennifer Lopez) samples Rick James’ classic “Mary Jane”, and actually very cleverly makes for a great hip-pop track. If you can get passed the fact that Ja’s main priority is clearly geared towards a female teenage audience, this song might actually work for you. Decent song for what it is; and that’s a sing-a-long for little girls everywhere.

11.) Smokin & Ridin feat. 0-1, Jodie Mack

Over very soothing West Coast production, Rule gives his listeners quite possibly the best track on the album. This song, while simple, works perfectly; and is clearly the way Rule should perform his hooks. Great track in every aspect, with Jodie and 0-1 playing a great supporting act.

12.) X feat. Missy Elliot, Tweet

Ja Rule loves extacy. If you’re not familiar with this accusation, just listen to any song that he has ever had on the radio, and you’ll see what I mean. While his last dedication to E (“Extacy” from “Rule 3:36”) featured great production featuring Jayo Felony, this followup is a major letdown. It’s almost like Ja doesn’t know how to properly work this slowed down instrumental. Tweet is the only upside to this track, and that’s definatley not saying much.

13.) Big Remo (Skit)

Bernie Mac shows up to talk for half a minute. Not worth the extra song slot at all. Skip it.

14.) Lost Little Girl

Looking at the title, you’d expect a Tupac inspired track, in the veins of “Baby Don’t Cry” or “Brenda’s Got A Baby”. This song, however, features Rule’s failed attempt at singing another below average chorus over a club beat; making the subject matter almost forgettable. Terrible attempt at a song with substance. Skip it it all costs.

15.) So Much Pain feat. 2Pac

This track recieved a lot of criticism. While in recent years it’s obvious Ja Rule was heavily influenced by Tupac Shakur, this was his earliest attempt at a collaboration with the deceased hip hop legend. Featuring the same beat as the original “Pain”, Ja ‘pays tribute’ to ‘Pac by twisting his first verse and re-rapping it himself. However, the remastered beat, and the addition of 2Pac at the end of the track, make for a suprisingly good track that has easily stood the test of time.

16.) Pain Is Love

Looking at the lyrics on paper, this song seems to be a deep song that Ja has put together. But as Rule has proved throughout the CD, his ability to deliver these songs are almost laughable. Over another bubblegum production, Ja’s singing and constant whining make for an underachieving track. Bad way to close out the album.

Bottom line, this album is a roller coaster ride through and through. The balance of songs is almost non existant, with the majority of the tracks catering to a very different audience Rule gained with “Venni Vetti Vicci”. And while this album did manage to go triple platinum (thanks to the countless number of pop singles), perhaps it was oversaturation like this that led to the bashing of Rule by the media not even a year later.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

Ja Rule – Rule 3:36

Ja Rule - Rule 3:36After his breakthrough hit “Holla Holla” the previous year, Ja Rule returned the following year with his critically acclaimed sophomore effort “Rule 3:36.” Stepping out of DMX’s shadow, Ja set his own mark with a number of radio friendly hits, while still incorporating the gangsta image that made him famous in the first place.

1.) Intro

Nothing more then that – an intro. This features Ja singing about wanting to kill himself, to relieve his pain. Not believable in the least, considering he’s making millions of dollars.

2.) Watching Me

This is the proper way to start the album. Over a pounding guitar fueled instrumental, Ja’s aggressive lyrics and demeanor make for a good track. And although the hook is mediocre at best, Ja’s delivery saves this one. Good song.

3.) Between Me & You feat. Christina Milian

Featuring a then unknown Christina Milian, this is Ja’s first real attempt at catering to the ladies, on the album. The song managed to cross over, and help the album sell millions, but the song itself lacks. Milian’s simple and repetitive chorus, and Ja’s constant yelling make for a lackluster track.

4.) Put It On Me feat. Vita

This song (the 2nd hit from the album) was a much better choice for a single. Ja’s now famous “What would I be without you?!”, and harmonizing hook works perfectly, with Vita offering up a very worthy guest spot. This is a song for the ladies through and through, and nobody does it better then Ja.

5.) 6 Feet Underground

Clearly one of the best tracks on the album, Ja returns to the street, after the last two songs, over this pounding instrumental. Detailing how his enemies want to see him ‘6 feet underground’, this track features a clever sample, and a flawless hook. Great track in every aspect.

6.) Love Me, Hate Me

More of a mellow track, this features Ja performing his own chorus, with subject matter very similar to that of the late Tupac Shakur. Production is very simple and Ja’s lyrical skill suffers a bit here, but his hook writing ability shines once again making for a slightly above average track.

7.) Die feat. Tah Murdah, Black Child, Dave Bing

Murder Inc.’s lesser known member show up for this remake of last year’s underground hit – “It’s Murda.” While Tah and Black Child’s verses are nothing special, Ja’s hook (“Everybody gonna die, but nobody want dead…It’s your lifeeeee!!!!!”) and verse alone make for a worthy track. Great, great track in every aspect, with Ja standing out more and more as a solo artist.

8.) ***** You feat. 0-1, Vita

After the last track’s near perfection, this song is a complete dissapointment. Very bland perfection, and Ja’s unessescary singing, followed by Vita’s lackluster hook, make for an underachieving track. Skip it.

9.) I’ll ***** U Girl (Skit)

This “skit” features Bernie Mac, and Ja Rule singing over what sounds like one of Uncle Luke’s booty-and-bass beats. Complete waste of time. Skip it at all costs.

10.) Grey Box (Skit)

A skit followed by a skit. That’s a first. Skip once again.

11.) Extacy feat. Tah Murdah, Black Child, Jayo Felony

Ja’s first (of many) dedications to his favorite drug – E. West Coast artist Jayo Felony makes a surprising cameo, over this bouncing production. Ja’s hook is once again on point, getting the album back on track after the last few songs. ‘The Murderers’ are the only dissapointment, as they once again try to sound too hard over this instrumental. However, this one of the album’s better tracks.

12.) It’s Your Life feat. Shade Sheist

While this Carribean flavored production is on point, and Shade Sheist’s verse flows perfectly; Ja unfortunatley doesn’t come through the way he could have. The hook is just under Ja’s potential, making for an average track at best.

13.) I Cry feat. Lil Mo

Another one of the album’s singles aimed at the ladies, this features Lil Mo. And while most will hate extremely hard, I’m going to go out on a limb, and say this is one of the album’s best tracks. Production is on point, as Ja flows perfectly, while Lil Mo soothes the chorus. Great track, that has stood the test of time.

14.) One Of Us

Although the concept of this song is original, the constant “One of us” in the background becomes a little repetitive. Questioning if God we’re ‘one of us’, Ja flows over this pounding production, with precision. Good track, and will surprise most listeners, who haven’t previously heard this song.

15.) Chris Black (Skit)

Another skit (this time clocking in at an unbelievable 3 minutes) features an incarcerated homie freestyling from the pen. Skip it.

16.) The Rule Won’t Die

At just over 2 minutes (shorter then the skit that preceded it), Ja explains why ‘the rule won’t die’. Production is on point, but Ja takes too long to start the track off, and therefore doesn’t have enough time to properly finish it. A somewhat dissapointing way to the end the album.

In conclusion, Ja’s sophomore album succeeds where his first one didn’t, in the fact that it attained commercial success. However, unlike his “Venni Vetti Vicci”, Ja sheds the thug image most of the time to appeal to his female audience. While it worked on this album, his future albums (“Pain Is Love”, “Last Temptation”) proved it was just a little overdone. So take “Rule 3:36” for what it is, and that is an entertaining album with a few great songs.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Ja Rule – R.U.L.E

Ja Rule - R.U.L.EJeffrey 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

Ja Rule – Blood In My Eye

Ja Rule - Blood In My EyeJA RULE – “Blood In My Eye” Released November 4th 2003 

01. Murder Intro (0.25) 
02. The Life w/Fatal, Ashanti & Caddillac Tah (4.35) 
03. Clap Back (4.56) 
04. The Crown w/Sizzla (3.45) 
05. Kay Slay- SKIT (0.18) 
06. Things Gon’ Change w/Black Child, Young Merc & DO Cannons/2 Punk Ass Quarters(4.01) 
07. Race Against Time II (3.53) 
08. Bobby Creep- SKIT (0.44) 
09. Niggaz & *****es (4.34) 
10. The Inc Is Back w/Shadow, Sekou, 720 & Black Child (5.22) 
11. Remo- SKIT (1.13) 
12. Blood In My Eye w/Fatal (2.25) 
13. It’s Murda FREESTYLE w/Fatal (3.36) 
14. The Wrap FREESTYLE w/Fatal (5.09) 

PRODUCTION: Irv Gotti, Blackout, Ja Rule, Rebel, Jimmy Kendrix, Scott Storch, Chink Santana The Gawd, Sekou & 720.

Born Jeffrey Atkins in Queens NY, Ja Rule as known to the rap community, has once again delivered an album for his fans only this time with a different approach. The year 2003 was very quite for Ja as his beef with new comer 50 Cent had escalated since 50’s debut with Shady/Aftermath Records & artists such as Dr Dre & Eminem were guiding him through the game. With talks for Ja Rule to keep low for six months until his next release it shows how the beef with 50 Cent had gotten to the young rapper & had left him without an option but to release “Blood In My Eye”. As Ja Rules beefs continued other rappers such as Benzino, Busta Rhymes & DMX had all had their share in contributing to the fire.

The fire shot out by Ja Rule in this album takes him back to his 1999 debut “Venni Vetti Vecci” as this new release compares to his early work as the Ja Rule we have heard for the last few years with chart hits with Ashanti, J- LO & Bobby Brown has suddenly disappeared and his gangsta, thuggish street raps have resurfaced. With production line tight as usual and Irv Gotti in control, Murder Inc has released a good but rushed album for revenge on all their disses. Most tracks from this album with out a doubt have at least some kind of diss in the lyrics, whether it is directed to 50 Cent, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Dr Dre, Proof or DMX, Ja has managed to take out his revenge on this album to full extent.

Tracks such as Scott Storch’s produced “Clap Back”, clearly aimed at Shady/Aftermath, have a Neptunes influence beat & Ja actually flows to the rhythm quite well as he usually does with catchy beats. The only downfall on this track is the delay as the song starts Ja tends to do his usual Murder shoutouts which get annoying on most of the album. Other highlight

tracks include “The Crown” which is an excellent beat, produced by Chink Santana The Gawd, followed by ruff rugged Ja Rule flows- show how Ja still has the potential to rap as a gangsta rapper, though the sample is a little messy on the hook.

Majority of tracks on this album such as “The Life” & “Race Against Time 2”, which was taken from the original on “Venni Vetti Vecci”, have good beats and Ja Rule does flow to the beats naturally though the songs are spoilt by his continous attempts to sing the hooks as if he were singing a song with Ashanti or J-Lo. All the beats are gangsta & its the only album since his first Ja has come hard, though he clearly fails on these beats to maintain his reputation for catchy hooks as demonstrated in his past albums. If Ja Rule concentrated on his lyrics and not his singing it would show improvement as his callabos with Fatal & other Inc artists show how the beats should be laced & thats gangsta rhymes to gangsta beats. It seems Ja is finding it hard in this album to control his singing & that is a major problem in this album along with his constant disses which begin to get old very quick.

The album still has tracks which Ja Rule tears to shreds such as “Niggaz & *****es” another Neptunes influenced beat by Blackout. In this track he uses a sample of Junior Mafia’s “Players Anthem” for the hook and his flow is at its best in one of a few bumpin songs, in turn Ja’s rapping does work very well with this style of production. Also “The Inc Is Back” has an excellent beat & features artists such as Shadow, Black Child & 720 who all flow lyrically with straight gangsta shit.

Ja Rule has also used alot of reference to the late Tupac Shakur alot as he clearly uses 2pac as an influence throughout the album with quotes from Pac’s “Hail Mary” on “Race Against Time 2” Ja sings on the hook “Ride Ride-dada Ride-da Ride-da daa” & mentions how 2pac was the greatest & how no one could feel his pain. Ja Rule also associates himself with Fatal, most famous for being a member of 2pac’s Outlawz, he is featured on alot of tracks, though only raps on about three which two were released previously as retailiation to 50 Cent disses, which is also disappointing. Another issue is Ja Rule referring to M.I.B (Murder Inc Boss’) as 2pac referred to M.O.B (Money Over *****es etc) now the album is clearly for revenge on Ja’s disses in the past but he has been critisized about being a so called “2pac bitter” by 50 Cent & others so he has added fuel to his beef with making an album strictly used for disses & reference and lyrics associated with 2pac, which does not make any sense.

The extra freestyle tracks “Its Murda” originally from “Venni Vetti Vecci” with Jay-Z & DMX is used as a diss with Fatal replacing the original line up & “The Wrap” which contains Mobb Deep’s “Learning Burn” instrumental has shown Ja rule has clearly struggled with this album from the very beginning and needs to think about whether he wants to continue the previous chart callabo’s, which were all catchy songs or pursue his gangsta personna.

This album had some quite good production & Ja Rules potential to lyrically flow gangsta was all there. The album is ruined by his habit of singing on hooks, using 2pacs lyrics in certain songs & concentrating on all his beefs. Ja was better off releasing a mix tape than an album as he had more disses to express than his usual music talent, which makes this album very disappointing for all Ja Rule & rap fans. The album has been a combination of gangsta rap & chart singing done by Ja in his last few years, which proved success for him with

hits such as “Thug Lovin” & “Livin It Up”. Ja Rule has great potential to be gangsta when he wants to & his beats are all there for him it is just a matter of getting his mind straight & concentrating on music not solely on dissing & singing hooks as much- isnt that what Ashanti is paid to do. Ja Rule will learn from this album & due to his frustration & fans questioning him about 50 Cent disses & come backs it feels Ja was pushed to rush the album as he has much more talent than this album no doubt.

Rating based on previous albums all aspects from lyrics to production, potential & set backs.

Rating 2.5/5