Since March of this year, Ja Rule has been living out a real-life 25th Hour. After pleading guilty to attempted possession of a weapon in December 2010, the 35-year-old rapper is set to begin an 18-month prison sentence this week. Despite the upcoming stint behind bars, Ja remained optimistic and upbeat when Rap-Up.com caught up with him, even discussing plans for a world tour beginning on the last day of his sentence.
With two albums in the works, P.ain I.s L.ove 2 and The Renaissance Project, and a clock ticking on his free time, Ja Rule’s main pre-jail priorities, spending time with his family and finishing up his albums, have taken precedence over the intricacies of the court case and any lingering regrets.
Following a string of hits in the late ’90s and early 2000s, years before his sing-rap style would be appropriated by Drake, Lil Wayne, and others, the rapper became 50 Cent’s primary punching bag and, fairly or not, the exemplar for a style of hip-hop—one marked by sleek, sung choruses and radio-friendly staples—that became passé with the increasing popularity of the harder, more militant, G-Unit era.
Second chances in hip-hop are rare, but with the “Always on Time” hitmaker back on good terms with his Murder Inc. associates (He reunited with Lloyd and Ashanti on stage in April and is collaborating with the latter on “LOL”), he is hoping to pull a Lil Wayne and retain, if not increase, his popularity while in prison. On the eve of his sentence, Ja Rule spoke with Rap-Up.com about his new projects, what he learned from Lil Wayne, the ridiculousness of “Twitter beef,” feeling betrayed by Lloyd, and how he’s risen above the hate.