Years ago, Dave Chappelle asked an important question: “WHERE IS JA?!”
The year was 2004, and Dave was asking after Ja, as in Ja Rule (né Jeffrey Edward Atkins) to make sense of societal ills and general chaos or something (all having to do with Bush, mostly). In his mid–For What It’s Worth monologue about the erstwhile rapper, Dave wasn’t necessarily wondering what Ja was up to, or whether he was free to go see I, Robot or Passion of the Christ. Eventually, Dave moved on. But if the question of Ja’s whereabouts is one you’re still turning over in your head, or occasionally opening a Chrome tab to investigate (“what is Ja Rule doing now 2018”), I have you covered. As it turns out, Ja is (still) big mad at 50 Cent.
WHOA. DAMN, JA. SHOTS FIRED. IT’S MURDAAAAAAA. 2003 IS BACK. BREAK OUT THE PELLE LEATHERS AND FUBU FOOTBALL JERSEYS.
If you are old enough to remember when Ja Rule had braids and a presence on the charts, you’ll also recall that he and 50 Cent (né Curtis Jackson) hated each other. Meaning, Ja couldn’t share the same bill of a concert in Atlanta as 50 Cent without fighting his would-be replacement in a nearby parking lot. Ja Rule later wrote about the kerfuffle in his book Unruly: Highs and Lows of Being a Man, and clarified on Hot 97 in 2014 that he not only fought 50, but won handily. Did he really, though? Being … not as muscular or tall or terrifying? “Abso-fucking-lutely,” he said.
There was more to the beef, because there always is. 50 Cent, in his own book, From Pieces to Weight, said that the flashpoint of their blood feud was 50’s friend robbing Ja sometime in the late ’90s, and Ja (understandably, in my honest, humble, sincere opinion) being upset about it. And so there were more chain-snatchings, literal stabbings, and diss tracks you could dance to, about keeping that same energy when you see me:
It was heated, to say the very least. New York magazine asking if hip-hop beef is “going too far” heated. Meek Mill rapping “this that Ja Rule shit and 50 Cent” on a Drake diss track a decade later heated. The kind of heated that’s never really over, especially when we know that 50 Cent is a flat-track bully on a promotional tour. He has a new “so trash it’s fire”–type action movie out today, which Chris Ryan and I literally cannot wait to see. It’s called Den of Thieves, a.k.a. Heat, The Charlie Heat Remix. As part of the press run for Thieves, 50 did a radio hit on Big Boy’s Neighborhood on Los Angeles’s Real 92.3 station with O’Shea Jackson Jr., and if 50 fired the shot across the bow, Jackson primed the cannon. He brought up Ja Rule first.
“I told 50 when I met him, ‘I like Ja Rule,’” says Jackson. “ came out, threw [Ja’s] CD right out my grandma’s house.”
Oh, Ice Cube’s movie likeness, why? Why did you have to drag Ja Rule into this? It’s all he can do these days to avoid catching strays. He’s been having a rough go of it lately, slinging bologna sandwiches to stranded rich kids in geodome tents. It’s a long way from 2001, when Pain Is Love came out and eventually sold 6.1 million units. Also, let’s be real-real: Ja Rule’s singles discography from the turn of the millennium to the early 2000s is wall-to-wall bangers. “Holla Holla”? “Put It on Me”? “Livin’ It Up”? “Mesmerize”? “ALWAYS ON TIME”?? Show some mercy, if not some respect.
50, though, as we’ve established, isn’t really capable of either. Big Boy asked him if he’d had contact with Ja, and 50 gave him only half a bar, the poor guy. “One time we were on a plane together,” he said, acknowledging that they could share a public space without fighting now. “I done put him to bed, B.” (This all happens right around the 25-minute mark, if you wanna skip straight to the good stuff.)
To bed? TO BED????? Ja Rule must’ve thought this morning before rattling off a series of deeply unfortunate and ill-advised tweets about 50 over the course of an afternoon.
Y’all really think @50cent is tuff??? Lmao this nigga is trash 1 good album lol— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) January 19, 2018
Come on, Ja, there were at least three.
I SAID WHAT I SAID...— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) January 19, 2018
OK, OK, OK, I just think you’re forgetting about Get Rich or Die Tryin’. We’re counting that, right? Even though it’s listed under “Various Artists” on Spotify?
TICKLE BOOTY?? WHAT EVEN IS THAT, JA?
I really don’t know how many more fun facts I can take at this point, Ja.
This nigga ain’t got no swag... lmao that classic s-curl tho... pic.twitter.com/HSWkdl88ev— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) January 19, 2018
The glasses may be unauthorized but I … like the chain?
I wanna give a big shout out to KARMA and Optimum for taking power off the air in like 30 million homes love is love... #Murderinctvseries— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) January 19, 2018
I confess to never having watched a single minute of Power. You win, Ja. But … I’m still gonna watch Den of Thieves. Meanwhile, I just now needed to consult my good friend Google, again, to see if Ja was still making music. He had a song on The Hamilton Mixtape, and apparently there’s an album coming out at some point before the earth blows up called Coup de Grace. He announced it on Twitter, two years ago. 50, meanwhile, is still “stanky rich,” and working, and Ja is the one taking awkward, manifestly homophobic shots on Twitter.
Where’s Ashanti? Maybe she can make sense of all this.