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I say "Free Ja Rule" but he was caught with a gun (according to the verdict in court). Coincidentally on the same day as Lil' Wayne who has been in and out for at least 6 months now. I've been waiting for a reason to celebrate Ja Rule's underappreciated footprint on hip hop for a while now. I don't care about the 50 Cent beef, or his street cred, Ja had big club songs for days.

In my timeline of listening to hip hop, he was the first rapper to make a career off the hip hop/soul movement that worked for singers before him. I'm not saying he was the first rapper to ever make a hip hop/soul song - BIG, Jay, DMX, Method Man etc. all did it before him - but from what I can remember, he was one of the first to make a big series of singles/career off it. LL used it too, not sure if he was as concentrated.

Singing, smiling, female feature, big budget videos and genuine club bangers (most courtesy of 7Aurelius) = Ja Rule.

Disclaimer: If the above is garbage, leave a comment (or email so no one else sees). I'm going from what I can remember.

He won't see this from his jail cell (poor thing), but this one is for you Ja!

Always On Time featuring Ashanti

Easily my favourite Ja Rule song of all time. No contest. From I first heard it on my school friend's discman at the back of the school dining hall until now, my body can't help feeling to dance. First song I can remember Ashanti from. This is the song that introduced Ashanti, surely. Oh, oh, there's a popular video girl in this video. Gloria Velez, Superhead or Melyssa Ford is in here. I'm sure it's one of them.

Preferred the album version, on Rule, over the single due to the extra adlibs on the chorus.

I'm Real by J-Lo

I think this is my second fave Ja song. Deffo top 2 JLo songs ever. Remember the controversy of the Puerto Rican saying n-word? I can honestly say I never cared that she said it until the big hoo-ha. Call me naive but I thought Ricans were black by association. They were all up in the videos, Fat Joe and Pun said it (from what I remember), so didn't know she wasn't allowed to.

Puerto Rican's were the in-ting these days. Everyone wanted a light-skinned girl to match the videos. Girls wanted light-skinned men to match Harvey and Romeo from So Solid. As much as I realised I got conned by the media into thinking JLo was the best thing ever, she is still hot in this video.

Oh, last thing, when they linked up again to do Ain't It Funny, that was rubbish. Co-written by Ashanti, whose voice can be heard on the adlibs and backing vocals. She'd later take Jennifer Lopez's spot like NeYo took Mario's.

Put It On Me ft. Vita and Lil' Mo

Introducing the third of my fave 3 Ja song. So, apart from Ja and Ashanti, no one else made it from Murder Inc. This features one of them. Unlike "Always On Time" I preferred the single version with Lil' Mo over the album cut with just Vita. The harmony on "'Cos I'm yours" gets numerous rewinds.

Down A** B*t*h ft. Charlie Baltimore

D.A.B. is a straight slow jam. Another Murder Inc. artist from whom I don't even remember releasing a single with them.

Down 4 U - Irv Gotti ft. Ja, Ashanti + the others

This features both females that did nothing with their career. This is actually a tune. Probably my fave video too. I wanted to be rich so I could have a party on my yacht because of this video. Yes, I wanted to let my belly hang out like Irv Gotti too. Luckily I still have time. Right now this 6-pack is in the way of my gut. Come rub me next time ladies ;)

Couldn't care less about Ashati's sideburns, she looks banging in this video. In fact, I never cared about her sideburns like I never cared about Rihanna's forehead. Ashanti and Ja's on screen chemistry was crazy. I hated on him for it. And all along she was doing something with Irv. SMH

Mesmerize ft. Ashanti

Despite how good she looks in the above vid, she looks even better in this. Them tight, shiny cat suit with the curly hair did a lot for the adolescents. Her swag is crazy. And this song is why Ja will never be as sugary sweet as Drake. "I got a fetish for f**kin' you with your skirt on/ In a backstreet on the backseat of the Yukon". I haven't heard Drake be so crude...

New York ft. Fat Joe and Jadakiss

Ultimately, what killed Ja Rule was not having enough street cred when 50 came knocking at his door. Unlike Drake who regularly trades bars with the elite, most respected MCs in the game and kills it, Ja never. Saying that, the game has changed. There weren't many non-hood rappers back then on a commercially recognised level like there is now. Doubt they would have wanted to associate with Ja.

He did on this city anthem. I went to New York in 2004, remember this being pumped on Hot 97 and car stereos regularly. New York was on its way back until 50 Cent crushed 'em all on Piggy Bank. Piggy Bank wasn't even a good song. The beat is horrible. Few good digs here and there but Fif' was the man so we gassed it. Following this, Murder Inc/The Inc got investigated by the FBI 'cos of Supreme, Fat Joe moved to and started reppin' Miami and Jadakiss was more concerned with throwing double door stainless steel fridges off buildings for publishing off Puff. Google any bit you're unsure of.

This had every ends screaming "I'm from New Yorrrrrrrk" Saluting the Miami duo Cool & Dre on production duty. Still don't know who has the best verse. 'Kiss and Joe turned the f'k up!

This video has Murder Inc, D-Block, Ruff Ryders, Terror Squad and Dipset + others representing. p.s. this is a better song tham Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind". The chorus and emphatic beat saved Jay's mediocre verses.

Rainy Dayz by Mary J. Blige

I read somewhere that this was supposedly written for TLC's comeback album, FanMail (the one with No Scrubs and Unpretty) hence the Waterfalls and one other TLC references. Dunno about that, but hey, great record.

Ja performed over here recently. I think it was in Sheffield or one of those areas. If he was in London as well I didn't hear



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