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Ja Rule attempts to be hard core

John Lowe | Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Blood in My Eye, Ja Rule’s long-awaited, highly anticipated fifth album, was released Nov. 4 amidst much hype and buzz, which was sparked mostly by the highly publicized feud between two of rap’s most prominent heavyweights: Ja Rule and Fifty Cent. Ja Rule’s label Murder Inc. and Fifty Cent’s label Shady/Aftermath have been propelled into this war of rhymes for the past couple of years, and both sides have exchanged many jeers and taunts.

The exact cause of this great rift remains unclear even today. Ja Rule was last heard from after Fifty Cent and Eminem released their collaborative track “Hail Marry” featuring Busta Rhymes, where they unleash an arsenal of insults on Ja Rule and every aspect of his manhood. They even resorted to calling him a wannabe Tupac. They also criticized Ja Rule for having women sing his hooks, claiming that he is a mediocre rapper hiding behind the talent of women. With all this in mind, one would expect Ja Rule’s new album to be chock full of original and creative songs that would silence his critics, but alas it does not.

Blood In My Eye is the most unfocused, generic, predictable, weak and lame excuse for a rap album ever recorded. It is basically a tribute album to his hatred of Eminem and Fifty Cent. They must have really hit a nerve with Ja Rule for him to dedicate not one or two tracks to disparaging them, but the entire album. From beginning to end, each song and skit are insults aimed at Fifty Cent and even his son.

On track six, “Things Gon’ Change,” Ja Rule says, “Put a vest on yourself and your children” which is immediately followed by a gun shot sound-effect. The gunshots are so frequent in that song, and every song, that it adds to its predictability and boringness. The album is a complete and utter disappointment. Also, Ja Rule took the liberty of imitating Tupac on several of his tracks by going as far as recruiting a rapper from Tupac’s former group the Outlawz. The only decent track on the entire album is “Clap Back,” which is a very danceable song, but after repeated listening it seems a bit too much like a rip off of a Neptune’s beat.

Ja Rule was in such a hurry to produce an album that would give him more “street cred” and distance him from the sweet teenybopper pop R&B songs that he just got sloppy. The tunes that he created with Jennifer Lopez like “Ain’t It Funny” and “I’m Real” have caused him to take a lot of flack from rap critics who believe rappers should be dangerous and unapproachable. Also, who can forget the classic anthems Ja Rule produced with Ashanti such as “Always On Time,” “Put It On Me” and “Mesmerized.” But in rap, unfortunately, sensitivity is seen as a weakness and has tarnished his reputation into that of a womanizing playboy. Ja Rule’s popularity was already on decline before the release of this album, as evidenced by the jeers he received at the recent Source Awards. Even his hardcore fans are going to be disillusioned by this mediocre album. Ja Rule no longer rules the world of rap. Today, Fifty Cent is worth two quarters and Ja Rule is worth about two pennies.

Contact John Lowe at jlowe1@nd.edu