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Ja Rule Interview 2009

MIO: The title ‘Ruleyork’ has been mentioned throughout some of your latest records and you even have a mixtape by that title coming out soon. Explain to the people what you mean by Ruleyork, what state of mind are you in when you say that?

JA RULE: New York is where I’m from and Ruleyork is my state of mind as well as a New York state of mind. Fuck it, it’s my city.

MIO: Well you do have the last major New York anthem.

JA RULE: Well Jay’s got one now (Empire State of Mind), I like that one too.

Ja RuleMIO: You got there first though

JA RULE: Yeah I got there first (laughs) but it’s all good. I love New York anthems. But you know, it’s like only certain cities can do anthems, New York, LA, Atlanta…

MIO: How is the mixtape shaping up anyway?

JA RULE: Well I think we’ll put it out a little closer to when I’m trying to release my album, but it will come out this year so we’re looking at maybe another Christmas package. The records are mainly harder sounding, street records. Welcome to Ruleyork is like I said my state of mind, when you see the cover you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The cover is an open road, a highway and there’s a big sign that says ‘Ruleyork 100 Miles Away’ then the exit sign on the side of the road that the car is passing says ‘Ja Rule’. You can take it how you want to take it from there, I’ll explain it later (laughs).

MIO: We heard some snippets in the background of the Atkins Files mixtape, like ‘Wake Me’ and ‘Spun a Web’, will they be on the mixtape or are you saving them for the album?

JA RULE: Well I think Wake Me is going to be on the album, Spun a Web may go on the album, I’m not really sure right now. I may release them I may not, I’ve got a lot of material and I’m getting a lot of new music from a lot of different producers, so as the albums starts shaping up, naturally certain records just aren’t going to make it…so you guys will get them (laughs).

MIO: Tell us about the ideas you have for the new album.

JA RULE: I want it to be different, I want it to be a masterpiece, I want it to be something you can tell I worked hard on and had fun doing it. It’s for the people because right now our business is in such disarray as far as record sales, it’s like the artists are now going back to square one which is for the love of the music. It’s not making us the major dollars that it used to so it’s the other things that we’re doing outside of the music; merchandising, product placement, publishing and writing songs for other people, branding your name…these are the things that are making the money right now. It’s crazy because it used to be the other way around, the music used to drive everything else, now it’s these other things that are driving the music, it’s weird but you learn to roll with the punches. I haven’t put out an album in five years so I want this new one to be a statement album, something that’s gonna make the people say ‘Rule is that nigga…how could I’ve turned my back on Rule’. Anyway, when I look at the whole beef shit and issues people have with Ja Rule I laugh at it. What is really your reason for not liking my music? Because I sing? I’m just looking around the room now to see what the case is. Or is it Ja Rule The Mirrorbecause of the beef between me and 50 and yall dubbed him the winner? So hate me? You see what I’m saying, I don’t get how this all panned out, but looking at it as a normal sane person (not some crazy dude behind a computer) it really doesn’t make sense.

I’m a real artist, I like to get into different headspaces and try different things and that’s where my melodic flow came from. I got tired of just beats and rhymes, I wanted to make music that was different and when I did it, it touched a whole other world, different people, cultures and countries that I never even thought I’d get to see! My dream was to go gold, so when I created that it opened up a whole new life for me. That, as artists is what we live to do.

MIO: It’s almost as if you are re-entering the hip hop world, do you feel like you need to create something new again for the people to be responsive?

JA RULE: Regardless, I don’t care if I do or don’t put out an album every year, my goal is to do something new and try something different. When you’re making albums year after year, you don’t really get a chance to sit back and try and find the new sound or search for the new flow, so you kind of just recycle what works. A lot of artists get trapped into that, even myself. I’ve been in that zone where I’ve made records that may sound similar to another record, not the same but similar in style or whatever. When you’re making an album year after year sometimes that happens, you get into the same vibes and same flow because you’re working everyday and that’s what’s moving. When you have time to sit back, relax and look at it all from the outside looking in, you get a chance to say ok you know what, hip hop is changing and I’ve done that before so let me do something different. Let me do a little bit of what I’ve done before because you don’t want to let down the fans that are used to that and want that

MIO: When you were on top of the world doing your melodic flow, do you ever feel that it became over saturated?

JA RULE: Maybe, but what is over saturated? That’s a term I think labels use because they’re scared of their artists being out there too much. I think I didn’t do enough, that I should’ve done more! There were a lot of records that they pulled back that I was on with other artists that I felt we should’ve put out. Look at Lil’ Wayne, he’s on everything, he does any record he want’s to do, do you think that’s over saturation or do you look at it as he’s one of the hardest workers in the business?

MIO: How do you feel about the fans that have stuck with you throughout all the experimentation, the high and the lows?

JA RULE: I love them, I love them to death. You’re always gonna have your die hard fans, those fans that appreciate what you do as an artist and as a person so they get to know you and that’s why they’re die hard fans. I feel like Big said it best, ‘to know me is to love me’, if everyone of those people that bought my albums could be around me for a day, they would never ever turn their backs on me because I’m a good person. I’m not the kind of person you have to prove yourself before I extend my hand, I’m open to people and I’m good to them until they do me wrong.

Ja Rule The MirrorMIO: The Mirror has some amazing material on it. Does it upset you to see such a great album go to waste?

JA RULE: It didn’t go to waste, I didn’t get to sell it and make any profit from it, but people got to hear it and enjoy it. There’s no way of me tracking it to see if it got out to the masses because I gave it away, I hope it did. It’s a really good album and I worked hard on it, the feedback I’ve got from people has been phenomenal. It’s never a waste, remember I used to do this beating on tables and freestyling in high school, so to put out a disc with around 20 songs on it is really not that big of a deal.

MIO: Do you have a favourite song from The Mirror?

JA RULE: I like the title track, I like The Mirror (Love is Pain) because it says a lot. Father Forgive Me, like I said I always try to do something out of the box and that was definitely something different for me.

MIO: There was a lyric in Free where you mentioned ‘stopping the growth’, given the metaphor of the record is about your relationship with hip hop, did you feel you were preventing the genre from progressing?

JA RULE: I was kind of holding on to hip hop because it had been my bitch for a good period of time. Everything I did was kind of blowing up to a level where it was transcending hip hop, I don’t like to say it because I’m not that kind of artist. I’m not one of those artists that like to say ‘yeah I got this many number one records’ I don’t care about that shit, I just like making the music and letting it be what it is. Sometimes I think if I was one of those artists that spoke up more about my accomplishments people would notice more, but since we are talking about that record and what it meant to me, I felt like I was the artist that really broke radio at Def Jam. Before that artists weren’t really getting like 6-8 thousand spins on the radio, at least not hip hop artists, it just wasn’t like that. Everybody was trying to figure out how the fuck is he doing this. Gotti was saying he doesn’t have any magic trick for Ja Rule, he was doing the same thing for me that he did for Jay and X, it’s just my shit was tracking better and getting the spins. So what I meant by that lyric was sometimes you have to let hip hop be in the hands of others, to let it become something bigger. If Run DMC held the title forever, it may not have got to Tupac, so if Ja Rule holds the title forever, it never gets to T.I. or Kanye, you understand? With each artist that handles the rock, hip hop grows and I had my hand in making it grow as far as setting radio standards and my melodic style which is kind of a staple now, what artists do as far as putting an album out now and having ‘that record’. I’ve been around a lot of producers and they say ‘you need that Ja Rule record’ and what they mean by that is that melodic, radio friendly record that can be embraced by all. I’m not ashamed of that at all, I’m very proud. So when people try to clown me for singing or whatever, I’m very proud of making that melodic shit mine. Niggas can’t ever take it away from me so anybody that ever tries to do it or embrace that style, they are always gonna look and say that’s Ja Rule.

MIO: That was the first record we heard from The Mirror and is still very much a fan favourite. What was the original plan for Free, was it meant to be pushed as the first single?

JA RULE: I wanted it to be an impact record, but I think people just didn’t get it at the time, they didn’t understand it. The flow is real different on the record, it was very Bone Thugs inspired, I wanted it to be like that I did that on purpose. I just think people weren’t expecting that from me, but music lives forever and as time moves on, even though it’s not a top 10 record it will still be a fan favourite. People will have records in their Ja Rule archive that will be their records, fan favourites like ‘Never Again’ and ‘6 Feet Underground’. Records that I never put out as singles but people love. Even records that I put out that may not have been as popular to the public, they forget what time and span those records came out, like ‘oh shit that was the time when we were supposed to be hatin’ him!’ They’re just singing along and I’m in the crowd thinking y'all don’t even realise that this was a record put out in this time, y'all think it was a record you fell in love with in another time frame. No, this was a record you loved whilst you were closet hating on Ja Rule. I say this all the time, leaders love Ja Rule. Real leaders, like people who are going to change the world love Ja Rule. If you a follower it's easy to follow 50 and be like 'yeah fuck that nigga, everybody's hating on him so I'm going to hate to him'. It was hard for a nigga to stand up and be like 'I fucks with Ja Rule' when ten others are saying 'nah nah we fuckin with 50 right now'. So if you’re that one nigga standing up that's saying 'I like Rule's music y'all nigga's is clowns'…these are the strong minds. These are the minds that are going to change a generation because these are the mind's that are not scared, these are the ones that take chances, take risks, these are the ones that are going to succeed. Lyor(Cohen) said something real important to me, back when I was with Def Jam we used to have a lot of talks. He said, 'sometimes you’ve got to be willing to loose it win big' and I didn't understand it at the time, but I understood it as my career went on with certain deals and shit that I had to do. It may have been a big deal that I was doing and I may have had to let 'em know I will turn this deal down if it's not the one I want, knowing that I really wanted that deal. But if I don't stand my ground they’re going to take advantage of me, so I'll have to do it even if it means loosing this motherfucker, even if it's a deal breaker. That's how you get to that next level, because every time I did that I won big....I ended up realising that I was worth more then I realised, that my actions and my words and my body of work actually meant more then I realised and sometimes you got to be willing to test that.

Ja RuleMIO: Like around the time of Rule 3:36 when you and Gotti brought Rule 3:36 to Lyor and co and they said 'we don't like it'....

JA RULE: Right, sometimes you got to be willing to risk it all and that was a risk for us because that was a situation that they really didn't want to put a lot of money behind the project because they didn't believe in it, but I'm like ‘yo we just did 1.5 million, at least give us a motherfucking chance to win or give us a good first look!’ So we got our first good look and the record did really well and we did what we did, shit blasted off but there was always that feeling in the middle like......’I told you so’ and on their end like ‘we were wrong’ and that caused friction through the rest of the projects. Even though we did well there was friction because we didn't want them involved with what we were doing, because if they didn't believe in our vision then they didn't need to be apart of it. We had to get in our stance and we won big. When you take that stance it can go either way, we won big but at the same time when people started taking shots you had those poeple that was in the background like ‘now go ahead and do this one on your own.....’

MIO: Speaking of which your in an interesting position of going from being at the top of the world to scrapping the bottom of the barrel...

JA RULE: Not bottom of the barrel baby, I'm still the Rule let’s not get it fucked up, I still hold the prestige in this motherfucker I just haven't been out in awhile (laughs).

MIO: Let's try that again you went from being at the top of the world to people turning their backs on you and now your working your way back up again, is their anything you would of changed along the way?

JA RULE: I wouldn't of changed nothing because that's life, that's how life moves sometimes your here sometimes your there. You look at a guy like Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever live, he wins three championships life is fucking grand everything is great he's on top of the world what happens? His father get's killed on the side of the road by two fucking teenage kids, are you fucking serious? You understand what I'm saying, tragedy strikes and puts real nigga's through real tests. Mike broke for a minute, he couldn't play ball for a while he had to fall back and say ‘you know what I can't do this my mind is not focussed properly, I been struck with a blow that I just can't understand why and how this came to me at this time.’ It's not something that could ever be planned and it's not something that's fair, so he takes his break and realises ‘I'm still the greatest so I'm going to come back and win three more championships.’ See that seperates the real from the fake and what I've been through is a small obstacle, small thing like the 50 cent beef are you series? Do you really think that the world is going to hate me forever because I had beef with this clown ass nigga are you fucking series? I think not, it's not even a realistic thought. When I think about that and think that I'm an artist thats talented, that can record and not only record but can write, I'm a writer I can write through these problems, I can write about these problems and can talk about it in songs like 'Wake Me' or 'Drown', I can talk about these things and make people feel me from my perspective. R. Kelly said to me one day ‘You see what Witney's going through her problems and shit, I'm going through mine, you going through yours, the difference between what we do and what Witney does is we can write through our problems.’ She has to have somebody write for her so they may not necessarily be feeling her pain or her problems, so she can't properly express to her fans how she really feels. But for me and him thats a totally different thing, I can sit down right now and write a whole fucking song about what happened in the last five years and explain it in detail if I choose to. And thats the difference between writers and non writers, its the emotion you may sing with the emotion, but I have the pen to put down the emotion and that's important too.

MIO: In the Last Temptation era you really had the rock star image at that time, the chain with the guitar piece it was really out there in the public eye. If you had never made ‘Blood in my Eye’ where do you think your career would of gone muscially? Would you of gone into rock ?

JA RULE: I would of probably done a rock album, but who knows? Who knows what I would have done? Only I know what I was planning to do and what I wanted to do, but it's just one of those things like I said, I think God puts people through certain tests in life and it's usually people who think outside the box, because we think so differently that it has to Ja Rule Ashantibe a shadow of doubt sometimes in the way we think. If I told you right now that I'm going to be the biggest artist in music, in entertainment, in the next five years you probably be like this nigga is crazy, but if I'd of told you that ten years ago before I did it you'd probaly say this nigga is crazy. So this is how I think and how I see things, I visualise things differently and I know that you live life in spurts and periods, that was just my first chapter of life what I went through. Right now this is my second chapter, what I'm about to go through, what I'm about to embark in.

The idea's and the things that I want to do that I want to make happen, that I have the vision to make happen are more outside the box. I want ideas that people may not see right now but thats fine because I see them and I foresee them happening. So as I make them happen, it's only going to make me look like the artist that I know that I am that people who may not understand all the time, may not see all the time, they only see Ja Rule the artist that makes records or whatever, they don't get to see the guy behind the music that makes the records. They only get to see the finished product, they don't get to visualise how I come up with concepts, how I put it together, how I think of different things, how I write for other artists, they don't get to see a lot of that shit, and for me thats cool because I know what I'm capable of doing and I know what the future hold's for me. I know right now what Im going to be doing in the next six to eight months, but I'm not telling everybody because I want it to be my thing and I want to come out with it, I don't want to just talk about it and we can do interviews and we can talk about projects that I'm working on, but certain things that I know that are about to happen, I don't want to put them out there until they happen. I have a very very bright future in the next few years, so it's going to be fun and I got to say 'he who laughs last, laughs the loudest and the hardest' so I'm going to have some fun with it.

MIO: Recently on MIO people would of noticed a trend where you'd start something like Rule York TV or the Cold War Mixtape series which never came out, 187fm etc. It's almost like they feel you've got too many ideas and you start something then keep moving onto the next thing, nothing ever gets finished or it never gets the full attention it should of received. What do you say to that ?

JA RULE: That's the artist in me, I have a lot of ideas and I flow with al ot of shit. Sometimes things get bored to me fast, that's why I have to learn to not talk about everything before I actually do it because I have so many ideas and I'll spew them sometimes and then I'll get bored with it and be like I don't want to do that anymore I'm doing this. Most artists move like that, most artists are real in and out, like I said we get bored with stuff quick because we’re thinking at a fast pace. The difference is they don't spew their ideas until they actually have them done but that is to my fault, I spew ideas, then I get bored with them and throw them out the window.

MIO: The fan's were getting a bit frustrated...

JA RULE: That I understand, I had to grow into that because I'm not use to I am. When you’re not used to having fans, people that love you, you talk about things amongst your piers and friends, ideas and passions that you may have. When you do that with reporters or people that are printing it becomes damn near reality. Even if its just something I'm talking about doing, like what I said to you guys the other day, I would like to do a record with X (DMX) and I'm thinking about reaching Ludacris DMX Foxy Brown Ja Rule at VH1out to him at the Vh1's. That's just an idea, that's just something I thought of, but for you guys it was already stamped in like he's doing a record with X!!! (laughs) So I’ve got to watch what I'm saying.

MIO: Do you want to explain to the fans the concept of the VVV 2010 album ?

JA RULE: It's a three disc set, there's a ‘He came’ disc, ‘He saw’ disc and a ‘He conquered’ disc. The ‘He came’ disc will be really hardcore early Ja Rule Venni Vetti Vicci first album, the 'He saw' disc will be more what I grew into as the years flew by, the style I created, my melodic flows, my duet's that type shit, and then 'He conquered' is going to be my blend of new shit, new style, new flow, brand new out of the box crazy shit yall might not understand it or you might. You know I want to make different records, for that album you may hear me doing a lot of different shit that's way out there, that's crazy but it will be hot. That's all I can promise, hot music. It may be different, you may not understand it but trust me in some region in somewhere in the world they going to be partying to it and having a good time. But people have to understand that about me, I'm a worldly artist now, I travel the world I’ve been all over the place. I've experienced different cultures and music and learned to enjoy their music too and see the enjoyment they get out of it is what really impresses me.

Buck 3000When I used to go overseas all the time I used to try figure out if they really knew what the fuck I was saying, they don't even speak my language but they know the words and they’re rocking to my music. That used to always bug me out, I didn't understand it. As I started to really love music and study music you learn how music is the universal language. It's one of the first forms of communication and when you realise that you realise that you can hear music that you may not understand, but you can feel it. It's the only form of art that you cant touch, it touches you. For me that's something special to be able to have that talent, the talent that you can’t touch, the art that you can’t touch but it touches you. To me thats different because any other art in any other type you can physically touch it and breath it and its yours, you cant do that with music but it touches your soul and that's the beauty of music.

MIO: Talk to us a bit about Mpire Records and what the future holds for that.

JA RULE: MPIRE! I'm very happy, I'm making eight dollars a record, I'm happy with my situation. I own all my masters, all my publishing, I own everything.

MIO: Can you tell us what the future holds for Mpire and what we can expect from the label ?

JA RULE: Mpire is not just a rap label you can expect all types of act's on it, RnB, pop, rock, alternative acts whatever, I'm not limiting myself to anything. I like all genres of music, I can write in all genres of music so I'm curious to see how I fare in putting out all types of music.

MIO: Right now you are officially signed to Mpire Records.

JA RULE: I play for the team I own (laughs).

MIO: So right now you are off Murder Inc. Records ?

JA RULE: Yeah…

MIO: Contractually....

JA RULE: I was never on Murder Inc. can I just explain that, I was never a Murder Inc. artist. Me and Gotti had a deal with each other, with the company Top Dawg. So we had a deal with that and Top Dawg had a deal with Def Jam and then he got his imprint Murder Inc. and he gave me a piece. My deal was with Def Jam it was always through Def Jam. I was just the face of Murder Inc. but my actual contract was not with them. I always wanted to sign with Gotti so when we did this next deal with Universal I signed with Murder Inc. so we were all one now, but then the situation just didn't work out.

MIO: Your relationship with Gotti hasn't changed ?

JA RULE: Nah Gotti is my brother, I love Gotti, we tighter than anything. We speak all the time, we’re with each other all the time. It's just people like to start rumours and shit but thats my brother, we good.

MIO: So he's doing his own thing with Murder Inc. and your doing your thing with Mpire ?

JA RULE: You know he's supportive of my Mpire.

MIO: Will he have a role in Mpire?

Harry-O Ja RuleJA RULE: I'm the boss I'm taking the forefront, but Gotti's always with me just know that. We’re always together just know that.

MIO: Harry-O is heavily involved in Mpire also...

JA RULE: H-O you know he has a good business mind. Right now we’re in the entry stages of a company, I got him doing a big job, he's helping out doing a lot of stuff. He's a smart dude and I can see him owning his own company one day.

MIO: The first release from Mpire will be VVV 2010 or?

JA RULE: 2010 !

MIO: And who do you think will be next up after you?

JA RULE: I'll let the public decide, I think we will do a compilation album and then I'll let the public decide who they feel the most and we'll move from there.

MIO: It's leaning towards Harry-O at the moment from a fans perspective.

JA RULE: He's put in the most work but you never know, like I said I got a rock group.

MIO: Tell us a bit about them.

JA RULE: I don't want to talk about them right now. I got to keep it focused. Everybody's got to have to have their time and their shot and right now we working on Harry-O, Merc and Life. I’ve got a female rapper too, she's hot.

MIO: Is she based in New York, LA or where ?

JA RULE: She’s based everywhere New York, LA, Detroit she’s all over the place.

MIO: As you sit here going through the playlist in front of you, out of all the new tracks, what are the records that you’re really excited about?

JA RULE: I'm still working, I like certain records and I think the public will like certain records and relate to certain records. 'Drown', 'LOL'…when you hear 'Wake Me' it’s like I've just been woken, I'm still alive and who ever thought I was sleeping, dead or whatever I'm fucking alive and I got some shit for your ass. There's a lot of records on the album that I feel the public are going to feel, but really I feel I haven't made my best work for 2010 yet. I'm just warming up, once I start getting these beats in its going to be crazy. It all starts with the music, the music creates the tone, it sets the vibe, its the backdrop for the paint. You got to have good music to paint a good picture.

MIO: When you say beats are you planning on keeping it in house?

JA RULE: I got all different type of producers, this new dude just came in and he played me some shit and there were a couple of joints I liked.

MIO: Can we expect a big name producer a Just Blaze or a Timbaland name for 2010 ?

JA RULE: Yeah you can expect some of those big names, for 2010 I want to pull out all the stops. I'll definitely do some tracks with some of the heavy's but I got to let the other guys get their shine too. If they come with the right shit and I put the right shit on it then they'll get their shine. That's the shit when you play the name game, allot of times I say to dude's get beats from whoever and don't tell me who they’re from just play me them, that way I'm not biased to anybody or any beat. Like ‘oh those are the ones such and such made, let me hear that’ and I’m listening to them differently, I’m trying to make them hot like ‘oooh you Ja Rule Murderinc Onlinehear the kick on that!?’ Nah, it’s the same kick on the other shit, I don’t like to get into that headspace. If I feel a vibe from a track then that's the one I'm going to get.

MIO: Finally thanks for your time and to finish up what's your message to the fans ?

JA RULE: We coming man, I understand how your frustrated with me at times but yo give me a break I'm only human, Im a man just like everybody else, I have my faults, make mistakes, I trip, I stumble, I fall just like everybody else. With each day I'm trying to get better. If I had anything to say to the people I would tell them just that, live your life just the same way, with each day you get better, we’re all a work in progress.

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