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Ja Rule Leaves Bitterness -And 50 Beef- Behind on New Album

NEW YORK It's no secret that the past few years haven't exactly been easy for Ja Rule and the Inc., with federal indictments; feuds with 50 Cent, among other artists; not to mention the crew's luster waning a tad bit.

But rather than rushing out material in the wake of those media storms, after six albums in six years, the Queens rapper decided to take a much needed moment to get his thoughts together. He figured he'd have a lot to say on The Mirror, his upcoming album, due in stores September 25. It's his first album since 2004's R.U.L.E.

"You're kind of on the clock," Ja told MTV News on Wednesday night from the Harlem set of "Uh Oh," his first single from Mirror. "The label wants an album every year. So your creative process gets I'm not going to say lost, but it gets watered down a bit. So with this album I had a chance to really sit back and relax, record records like I want to record them. I could take two, three days if I wanted to record a record, it didn't matter. Because I wanted to just take my time with this album and say the right things to the people, the public. Because there was a lot of things I wanted to say, and I didn't want there to be any bitter records on the album. Because I'm not bitter about anything that happened [in the past few years]. I'm moving forward. We push forward here. We don't look in the past. So we gonna push forward with this album. And when you hear the tracks and records on the album, you'll understand exactly where I'm going with it."

(Watch Ja Rule talk about his new direction.)

Ja may sound like he's getting into heavier fare on Mirror, but "Uh Oh" is more of a pulsating, midtempo track, which features Lil Wayne and finds the two trading lines back and forth.

On the set, both Ja and Wayne were popping up and down just as much as the beat as they took turns egging each other on when their verses cued up.

"I was sitting around the house wondering how Ja was gonna come back [out], and then I got a call," Wayne said. "With me? I was honored. I had to prepare, I was nervous, but I got it."

The clip is being directed by Rage and Irv Gotti (see "Irv Gotti Maps Out Inc. Comeback With Vanessa Carlton, Lloyd, Ja Rule") and was shot guerilla-style across New York, despite rain downpours and traffic jams, moving from borough to borough.

"The look I really wanted to capture with the video was basically the essence of the track," Ja explained. "You hear the track is real crazy, I wanted video to capture that. So when you see it, it feels like what you're hearing. You're catching that. And with me and Weezy's energy, I think it's going to come out real hot."

Along with Wayne, who Ja said he's known for years but is just now getting the chance to work with, Rule also pegged some other old friends for Mirror. Erick Sermon and Ty Fyffe, who both produced tracks on Ja's debut, Venni Vetti Vecci, are on board, as well as producers 7 Aurelius and Chink Santana.

Though Ja's currently bent on pushing "Uh Oh," after he returns from a short promotional tour he'll start prepping a video soon for his first official single, "Body," which is a smoother track more in line with the tone of some of his bigger hits.

But Ja's not worried about any cracks about his style, which has earned him equal parts accolades and the ire of many, including 50 Cent, his onetime nemesis who's facing his own backlash at the moment (see "Ja Rule Done Lashing Out At 50, Will Be Himself Again On New LP").

"It happens," Ja said. "I seen it happen to a lot of artists. They go through it. One of my friends, one of my producers, 7, he said something real crazy [to me]. He said, 'Greatness is not sometimes what you achieve, it's what you overcome.' And I've overcome a lot, from Gotti and them going through the federal investigation, almost doing 20 years, through all of the beef and all of that. I came through it and I'm walking in another direction right now. And it's in a step that's going straight to the top, baby."

mtv.com

published on July 13 th, 2007

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Ja Rule Article from Popwatch

The heavens parted. A torrential downpour pounded the Earth's surface without mercy. And then, like a vision, he appeared: the one, the only Ja Rule. All kidding aside, there was something appropriate about the apocalyptic weather that surrounded my encounter with the Queens rapper last night. Ja hasn't released an album in three long years, and many assumed that his career had been effectively terminated by his 2002-2003 dustup with a then-invincible 50 Cent. But anything can change given enough time: 50's most recent singles have been commercial disappointments, and, meanwhile, Ja has crept back onto the radio with his furious new cut "Uh Oh," a collaboration with New Orleans' Lil Wayne. Wayne and the resurgent Ja spent yesterday traveling around New York City, shooting the "Uh Oh" video; I met up with them on the Harlem block where they planned to wrap up the day's filming.

The aforementioned thunderstorm delayed the shoot for a solid three hours, so I sought shelter in Ja's warm, fragrant tour bus, where he was relaxing with longtime associate Irv Gotti and a few other pals. Ja was in high spirits, eager to talk about the "refreshing, brand new" vibe of his latest work. But he was also surprisingly willing to talk about the career setbacks he's faced. His new album, due this September or October, is called The Mirror: "I was actually looking in the mirror and it hit me. I looked at myself and said, 'Yo, Rule, this is your moment of truth.' I gotta let [fans] know what it felt like what Ja, the artist, the man, the father, the husband, was going through." And what was his vision for the "Uh Oh" video? "It's going to look like organized confusion." Meaning...? (Note: I'm about 80% sure he didn't mean Organised Konfusion, the acclaimed '90s backpack rap duo, but no promises.) "It's gonna be real intense," Ja explained, "a lot of light and camera tricks. Me and Weezy got a lot of energy when we're in front of that camera."

Leaving the bus, I noticed that the hoodied guy strolling past me was, in fact, Lil Wayne (a.k.a. Weezy F. Baby) himself; a sizable crowd of passersby soon made the same realization and scrambled to whip out their camera phones. It wasn't hard to understand their excitement. Wayne released his solo debut in 1999, the same year as Ja's, so he's hardly a newcomer but in the last year he's been on an extraordinary hot streak, releasing an enormous volume of uniformly stunning material. Not for nothing, he is often dubbed today's best rapper alive (by himself, myself, and many others). Turns out he's a pretty dope lip-syncher, too: As soon as the tape started rolling, he began flailing to the beat and acting out his lyrical similes like a player in the world's sickest game of "Charades."

Soon Ja ran out to join him. They made quite the dashing pair in their matching all-black outfits, Wayne's regal dreads next to Ja's smooth dome. Take after frenetic take, they mugged wildly under the floodlights, alone or together, as various portions of "Uh Oh" blasted into the night. In between they swigged liberally from their thirst-quenching beverages of choice a styrofoam cup of indeterminate contents for Weezy, a bright-orange flagon of something called "Nutcracker Tropical Fruit Liqueur" for Ja. Gotti presided over the whole scene, hunched near a live monitor and bellowing instructions ("Stay static!" "Do that again!") at his stars. It was well after 10 p.m. by the time I made my exit, and I got the feeling that Ja and Wayne weren't leaving the premises any time soon; hopefully whatever I missed will turn up on YouTube before long.

popwatch.ew.com

published on July 13 th, 2007

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Behind The Scenes Of Ja Rule's New Single "Uh Ohhh"

Check out this MIO exclusive we bringing you behind the scenes of the video for Ja Rule's first single off "The Mirror"  in stores September 25th and dont forget to request  "Uh Oh"  on your local radio station get this single on heavy rotation. Also here some exclusive stills from the video of Ja and Lil Wayne  in Times Square video stills.
credit: Spectacularviews.com

published on July 13 th, 2007

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Channel7fm.com/ Is Now Live

Channel7fm the official radio station for Channel 7 has launched today and will be premiering tracks from the upcoming album which is due out in the fall including what could be the next single "Hello" featuring Ja Rule. So make sure you tune in tonight at midnight to Channel7fm.com and then head back over to our forum and discuss the new tracks and what 7 had to say. We will post updates of what went on after the show so dont if you missed it MIO will let you know what you've missed.

published on July 6 th, 2007

7 icon

Premiere Of Channel7FM.Com

This friday sees the launch of Channel7fm where 7 will be giving the fans an exclusive peak at what his album will be sounding like. It will also see the premiere of what could be the first single "Hello" that features Ja Rule. So make sure you tune into channel7fm.com this Friday from Midnight.

Keep checking out our forum and 7's myspace for updates.

published on July 5 th, 2007

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Nelly and Ashanti got their Jay-Z-and-Beyoncé on for the singer's new single "Switch."

Just like Jay and B early on, they've never publicly come out as a couple, but photos of the two vacationing and going out together over the past few years tell the story.

On the song, he says he hates to see her leave but loves to see her walk away. She sings about driving the guys wild while strutting in her pricey, name-brand open-toed heels (especially when she wears them with short shorts).

"Let me see you click you heels," Nells asks.

"If he's a good boy, I might give him a little show/ If he's a bad boy, I might give him a little more," she later says, naughtily.

"Switch" is the first single from Ashanti's new LP, The Declaration. Although she is still officially down with the Inc. Records, this is the first time she's made an album with no input from former executive producer Irv Gotti (see "Ashanti Eager To Put Her Label's Legal Woes Behind Her"). She put the project together on her own.

"I feel like it's a sense of freedom," Ashanti said of the album title at last week's BET Awards in Los Angeles. "With this album, I'm taking the lead with everything. I'm steering my own ship. I'm doing everything on my own. I have a label that I'm developing under Universal as well. It's just a big year for me I feel really, really excited about the album."

The Declaration will be released sometime in October, according to the Long Island, New York, native, and producers Jermaine Dupri, L.T. Hutton, Babyface and Polow Da Don all worked with her.

http://www.vh1.com/news/articles/1563789/20070629/story.jhtml

published on July 5 th, 2007

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New Vanessa Carlton Article

As the Oct. 9 release date for her third album, "Heroes & Thieves," approaches, singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton has inked with a surprising label: hip-hop music entrepreneur Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo's the Inc.

"I think Irv is a fantastic A&R man, and he really can't contain his excitement," Carlton says. "He has like, no filter, when it comes to expressing himself, and I thought that unbounded energy was so appealing. He's a fantastic music executive. They're hard to find. So, I took the step."

It's an important step for Carlton, whose 2002 platinum debut "Be Not Nobody" was followed by the critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing 2004 A&M effort "Harmonium." The 26-year-old artist says "Heroes & Thieves," which was completely written before she joined the Inc., was produced by Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins and includes a few songs she co-wrote with Linda Perry. The first single, "Nolita Fairytale," goes to radio in early July.

"It's a pretty uplifting album with a lot of layers going on in," Carlton says. "[There are] very complex arrangements but everything just makes me feel good and not in a simplistic way. It's the most honest album I ever made, and it's the only record I've made that I really look at as a body of work as opposed to a bunch of songs put together. I think that shows. It really does feel like a real album."

Currently, Carlton is opening a few dates for Stevie Nicks, with a large club or small theater tour planned this fall to coincide with the release of "Heroes & Thieves." Already getting stage time is the upbeat "Nolita Fairytale," the mid-tempo "Spring Street" and the ballad "Home," which Carlton hints could be the second single.

Having experienced the ups and downs of the music industry over the past five years, Carlton feels as though she's finally catching up to her career.

"I feel like I have more of the tools to be in charge of my own career," Carlton says. "I think I'm at that spot. I was there at the last record, but I feel like I have a much more clear vision of who I am and where I want to go. Clarity brings a lot of energy and power. I'm excited about that."
http://www.billboard.com

published on July 1 st, 2007

Ashanti icon

Ashanti Declares New Album, Could See An October Release

Ashanti says her new Universal Motown/The Inc album, "The Declaration," represents her sense of freedom at this stage in her career. "I'm steering my own ship and taking the lead on everything. You can definitely hear the growth; I'm working with producers I've never worked with before." Those producers include Polow Da Don and Babyface. The new album is due in October. Also what is tought to be Ashanti's new single "Switch" which features Nelly has leaked you can listen to it here. Leave your comments on our forum.

published on June 28 th, 2007

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FMQB Magazine Interview With Irv Gotti

On knowing when music was going to be a career… I knew it at an early age. A neighborhood friend’s father had two turntables and I was obsessed with them. I used to literally cut and scratch one record for two or three hours everyday. That’s when I knew I was obsessed with music. Run-DMC and Russell Simmons were also from my neighborhood, and it was right around the time that the whole Run-DMC thing blew up.  

On the idea of running a record company… You never think that at first because you’re so into the music and you just want to be heard and you want to produce. I wanted to be a producer. I went from being a deejay and the progression for me was to make beats. But then I started seeing guys like Russell Simmons, Eazy-E and Luke Skywalker, guys who grew up like me, own their record labels. Eazy-E was a really big influence on me as far as owning a record label, because of what he was doing with Ruthless [Records].

Something about Irv Gotti that we may be surprised to find out… I'm the youngest of eight kids and my mother and father are still together. I come from the best family in the world, and in the Hip-Hop world usually you hear a lot of stories about guys who grew up without their dads and had difficult family things. For me it was the total opposite. We grew up poor and didn’t have any money, but it was the best family in the world. Still is to this day. There's a lot of love. That’s how I view my company. Everything that you see with me is all derived from that strong family presence. 

On the defining moment that put then Murder Inc. on the map… There were actually a couple. “Holla Holla with Ja Rule put us on the map because it was my first record that I released on Murder Inc., and that record took off and it was huge! It announced and sent the label on its way. Then it was the whole Ja album, Pain Is Love, Ashanti's first album, and those Jennifer Lopez records. When J-Lo started throwing up the “M” at the end of her video, “I’m Real,” and that record went #1 for like thirteen weeks, it made Murder Inc. a household name. Then, when we did it again with “Ain’t It Funny” which went #1 for eleven weeks, and all of us were in the videos, that put us somewhere else and elevated Murder Inc. to an even higher level.

On where the idea originated to combine female R&B hooks and melodies with rap… I got it from Method Man and Mary [J. Blige] and from 2 Pac. I saw what Pac did with the “Keep Your Head Up” record and what Method and Mary did with “You’re All I Need,” that was a ground-breaking record. It was the first of its kind where a hardcore street act had an ode to a woman. I’m very much into radio and as a radio person I'm all about what’s successful on radio. I felt that these records were successful because it was Hip-Hop, but it drew the female audience in because we were talking to them in a way that they wanted to be talked too. Females are the ones who will pick up the phone and request and do all of the ground work to make a record go #1. I knew to make an album successful you needed to have some records like this with both Ashanti and Ja. I knew they would become big records. I felt it in my gut, and it turned out that they were, and with Ja, he became that guy known for those kinds of records.

On the biggest misconception about Hip-Hop nowadays… The whole [Don] Imus thing and him blaming us for everything that's wrong with people’s children growing up. We’re not supposed to say “bitches” and “hos,” but yet there’s porn out there, and movies that do the same thing, but yet still we’re to blame for it. Imus is crazy! And for the record, I don’t think he should have been fired. They should have given him a stiff warning, but this guy has been saying stupid sh*t like this his whole lifetime. Don’t smack him now. If I was his boss, I wouldn't have been too shocked. That’s why they hired the guy. I felt he was the scapegoat. Then he threw Hip-Hop under the bus, which was f**kin’ out of this world crazy!

On what Irv looks for in talent… You hear that term “it?” They have to have “it.” And I guess I’m just a good finder of “it.” I don’t know what “it” is. I can tell you the first time that I met Ja, the minute that guy opened his mouth and he started rhyming’ I knew there was something different and special about him and we've been together ever since… With Ashanti it took a little bit more. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend and I was in the process of doing Ja's album, so I just told her to come to the studio. I wasn’t focused on R&B at the time. But the minute she put that pen to paper and started writing these songs, it was history. If you have “it” and you come near me, I’m going to detect it and help cultivate it and make “it” a star.   

On diversifying The Inc. empire with the signing of Vanessa Carlton… I was at Universal having a meeting with Mel Lewinter, the Chairman of Universal Motown Records. It was right around the time I was about to sign my deal…I walk into another meeting that took place in [Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group] Doug Morris’ office. He has a piano in there; I see Vanessa and Stephen Jenkins, who was her boyfriend at the time. At this point I know this person they're talking about, but I didn’t know her name. So they’re in there talking, and I’m unclear if she’s looking for a deal or what she’s doing in there. Next thing you know she gets on the piano. She starts playing this song, a piano vocal called, “Hands On Me.” When she finishes that song I completely took over the whole, entire meeting! I just got up after she finishes singing and I’m like: “Yo! You're the f**kin’ shit! Your voice is f**kin’ incredible!” I’m literally running around the office like I can’t believe what I just heard” I’m like, “Your voice is f**kin’ unique and you play the piano!" I’m cursin’, I’m doing everything and she’s looking at me like I’m crazy.
     After I calm down and end my five-minute rant, she tells us she's going to play a song that really made her famous and even sold her some records with her first album. So I hear her begin to play that beginning piano part of “A Thousand Miles” (a song that is predominately featured in the Wayans Brothers’ film White Chicks), and I'm like, “You're the f**kin’ White Chick, oh shit!” I’m like, “Do you know how big you are in the hood?! Everyone loves you!”

On his next meeting with Vanessa…Vanessa calls and we set up a dinner meeting. I say, Vanessa, now here’s a guy, I just finished beating the Feds and everything, so I said to her, “Google me! (lol)” I was like, “Please, get all the dirt before you say you’re going to sign. Vanessa didn’t care!  She said: “Irv, that reaction that you gave was the reaction I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I’ve been in this music business and never was in a meeting like that, with that much energy and someone who loved what I was doing that much. I did my research on you. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I believe in you and I want you to help guide my career.” I was totally blown away and I signed her immediately and we made what I feel is a classic album that's full of one-listen hits top to bottom. 

On new group the Thunderkatz…  Thunderkatz was on my radar for a year, but I’m not diving in. I’m in the studio with one of my engineers, he says “Yo, you’ve got to check out the Thunderkatz and the song they f**kin’ have. You’re not going to believe it.” I’m like: “Yo, send it to me, I gotta hear this shit.” I hear “Cupid Baby” and say: “Yo! I called them; I’m signing you! That f**kin’ record is enormous. I’m signing you. That’s a huge record."...  At first, when I’m listening to the music, you will get Black Eyed Peas comparisons. I’m not totally afraid of that because there aren’t too many groups like the Black Eyed Peas.  When you see them perform live, they are a real band and they’re performing guitar solos and all kinds of drum solos. When you sit there and look at all of them collectively, you’re like: “Yo, I’ve never seen no shit like this. But it’s just universal and it’s bangin’”! Once you go see them live you’re going to do what I did, you’re going to say: “You know what, this isn’t the Black Eyed Peas. This is the Thunderkatz; this is some other shit.”         

On his legal troubles in 2004 and what he's learned most about himself and those around him…That was an extremely frightening time, because I was standing up for something I believed in which was not turning my back on my friends I grew up with. With that said, they were trying to give me 20 years! For me it was a very nervous time and I had to man up, and face it. It showed me I could do that. I don’t want to do it again! But it showed me that I got the heart to face pretty much everything. What I learned about people, it really opened my eyes to who’s really with me and who’s not really with me. A lot of people who I thought were with me, they weren’t really with me, and they headed for the hills. But it was definitely a learning experience.  

On the most rewarding moment of his career… After the case and I was acquitted, signing that deal back with Universal was a pretty high point. I felt like it was against all odds that I was getting back everything in the deal that I lost. I did $125 million in billing at my height for two years with Ja Rule and Ashanti. That’s a pretty high point. I’ve won awards and everything like that but, I’m not going to lie, when I signed that deal it was pretty crazy, pretty emotional, and pretty fantastic. It felt like hell to get to this point and here it is…I got there. So even before the success of Lloyd's #1 record, me signing that label deal was pretty big.

On what he wants people to think of when hearing the name Irv Gotti… On a music business level, I want the respect for being a music man and for my love of music -- someone who knew this music thing. On a person level, just someone who is a great guy and a family guy, and if you were in the circle, he loved the shit out of you. I love people. On a music level, I want to be mentioned with the great music people of our time from Berry Gordy to Ahmet Ertegun, Clive Davis, Doug Morris and Jimmy Iovine. When my career is done, I want to be put up there like he was a real record guy.

** QB Content by Bob Burke **

fmqb.com

published on June 26 th, 2007

Lloyd icon

Say it loud: 'Hey, shawty!' New Lloyd Interview

Lloyd Polite is a long way from Hotlanta when we catch up with him by phone. He's just landed in the Canadian outback, in Edmonton to be exact, where he'll launch a nationwide tour of that country.

He's used to the buzz and throb and heat of the A-T-L, hip-hop's new capital. But even in the wild of  Canada's great permafrosted tundra, if there's a stage, there's going to be a show. Polite, who simply goes by the name his mama gave him, can't stop himself.

"That's what comes with being a child prodigy," he says.

With the release of his second CD, "Street Love," Lloyd has risen to become one of contemporary R&B's hottest commodities. Its single, "Get It Shawty," is one of those breathless pillow-talk flavas from back-in-the-day when men like Marvin Gaye enchanted would-be lovers with the bold and audacious exhortation, "Let's Get It On."

Lloyd, who performs Friday at the Savanah Civic Center during WQBT FM 94.1 The Beat's annual Platinum Awards show, arrived in  Atlanta from his native New Orleans just as the Georgia capital's reputation among "urban music" lovers was taking off. But there was more there than a land of opportunity; there was an independent spirit that appealed to the young tat-covered crooner.

"We have our own style," he says. "We declared our independence from the South."

A sign of that independence is the vocabulary of hip-hop and R&B Atlanta. Everyone, even admittedly un-cool white journalists, knows what "bling" and "crunk" mean. In response to its mainstream co-optation, guys like Lloyd and his crew constantly reinvent the English language.

Hence, "shawty."

"It's an expression used for a young lady," Lloyd says, with a sly grin you can hear over the phone. "I use it for a cute girl with a sweet Southern twang, you know what I mean?"

Um, not really. Can you use it in a sentence, Mr.Polite?

"Whenever you're in the A-T-L, John, go to the clubs. If you see a girl you like, say, 'What you do, shawty? What your digits, shawty?' "

I'll keep that in mind, L.P. Hey, do I need to get crunk first?

Beyond a love for linguistics, Lloyd offers a few insights into the art of R&B songcraft by observing that the process of songwriting is not always easy to understand.

Sometimes, lyrics come first. Sometimes, the beats do. The vibe in the studio is also important. If it's good, it can be translated into a record anyone can enjoy. The subject matter is important, too, but not always. "Sometimes it's not what you say but how you say it," Lloyd says.

In the end, the whole enterprise of music-making is about communicating with a listener, Lloyd says. That's as true of a studio recording as it is of live performance. And even though his appearance on Friday is for an awards show, that won't matter. If there's a stage in Savanah, just like in Canada, he won't be able to stop himself from performing.

"I'm really excited about being in Savanah again," Lloyd says.

savannahnow.com

published on June 26 th, 2007

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