It’s no surprise who Ja Rule, the rap artist, is. But with a record label, clothing line, film company, liquor company, and a foundation (L.I.F.E, designed to give youth positive social outlets via The Arts) in tow, you may need to stop and take another look at Jeffrey Atkins, the mogul. Our interview with Ja Rule.
Ja, you are a busy man. Is it good to be working all the time?
F**k yeah. It’s always good to be working.
Is the best work when you are making music?
That’s not work, that’s fun.
You have people join you on the record; is it better to work alone, with others, or it doesn’t matter?
It doesn’t matter. I like doing my own songs. When I incorporate other people I use their voices like an instrument on the track. What I hear I need that.
It seems like a lot of kids coming up now in hip-hop want a little Ja in their voice—is that a compliment.
(We both laugh) it’s all good. I can’t complain. But there is only one me.
When you are putting together a record does it go quick or is it a long process?
I’ve done albums in two weeks.
On the flow?
Yeah—it goes that way.
Are they videos as much fun as they look?
It’s fun. I have a lot of fun no doubt.
Get any new tats [tattoos]?
Not recently but I’m going to go soon and get some new stuff.
Do you think about it ahead of time?
I think about what I’m going to get and something unique that I’ve never seen anyone else with before.
Yeah, I don’t think you want to show up and look at a book and roll with something.
Nah, that ain’t the look. (We laugh)
Do you feel like you always have to up the anti because there are so many artists coming up and they are gunning for the cats on top?
Of course. I keep setting the standards and setting the mark. You have to because this is a tough business.
Are the hardest on yourself?
I’m definitely my worst critic.
When you are done with a record is that it or are you holding it until deadline in case something hotter comes along?
Usually when I’m done I’m done. When I’m working on a record I knock it out. I don’t usually go back and try to slice it up.
How much has life changed—is it impossible to trust people because of where you are at?
It’s hard. I have my friends that I’m going to have for life. You don’t go around making new friends at this age. It does make you wonder sometimes at this age. My studio is packed. There were times when it wasn’t packed. (Laughs)
Kids grow up wanting to be stars but with it come things like isolation. You obviously wanted this for a long time and now it’s a mixed deal.
I guess it’s kind of weird. You get what you ask for.
With your stable of friends and the label you aren’t completely alone.
Nope, I ain’t completely alone. (We both laugh) It makes it better trust me.
Are you going to go on tour?
I am putting a tour together. I’m going to finish the rest of Jay’s [Jay-z] tour.
I remember when labels wouldn’t send hip-hop artists out on tour.
I think one of the first tours to go out was the Hard Knock Life tour and I was on that.
I remember for a while no one would book hip-hop shows because of insurance or whatever they said.
No one was doing tours—but now no one can stop us.
Get it live.
A lot of kids don’t understand how serious it was just a couple of years ago. Like Biggie and Tupac never toured. These kids who are growing up now don’t understand now.
It ended with Hammer and then there was a huge void.
When you hit the stage there can’t be a better feeling in the world.
It’s great. It’s anarchy.
That’s the best word there is for it. C an you go out anywhere and just go to the store.
I go to the regular stores but I can’t do the mall thing. There are certain things I can’t do.
Maybe that is what made Michael Jackson—nevermind, I won’t touch that.
(We both laugh)
I know you have a movie coming out.
Yeah, Assault on Precinct 13th comes out in January. It stars Lawrence Fishburne, Ethan Hawke, and myself.
Is it great because you can do film and work on a record because they don’t have to interrupt each other?
Sometimes they do.
Somehow hip-hop, back to the movie Colors, have always gone hand in hand with film. You don’t see rock bands in too many movies.
Any idea why?
I really don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.
Maybe it’s just a good line of actors.
Lastly, every record you have something coming out is there a goal?
I want to create great music and that is the goal right there.
+ Charlie Craine