What do you get when you combine Mobb Deep's repetitious subject matter, DMX's gritty voice, and a not-so-clever marketing gimmick from Def Jam? Give up? Ja Rule. Wait a minute; it's 1999. Isn't that same ol' thug, murderer, non-skill thing played out by now? Of course it is, but so is Ja. This album is a disgrace to everything decent in life.
I was reluctant to review this album. It isn't that I hate to say bad things about wack "artists." I just didn't think Ja deserved to get his name mentioned anymore during his five minutes of fame. I do, however, feel the need to give respect to his producers. They did a good job of providing Ja with some nice beats to suck over. If you can purchase an album and completely ignore the rapper, this wouldn't be a bad release to score. But as a whole project, this is likely to leave you disgusted. Just from looking on the back, you can see how much time Ja put into the conception of this album, and get an idea the level of creativity you can expect. From "Let's Ride" to "Bitch Betta Have My Money," you know you're in for something new, right? And with astounding titles like "Kill Em All," "It's Murda," and my favorite "Murda 4 Life," you know it's an album the whole family can enjoy.
Lyrically, there are few artists, from any part of the world, which can match Ja Rule's complete lack of talent. Although Ja has the vocabulary of a 1st grader, he still manages to delivery lyrics that rival those of Dr. Suess. Ja also maintains that loveable charm of a child who's just learned his first curse word, and can't seem to find anything else worth saying. Ja's daily schedule is hectic. Between killing people and ruining Jay-Z songs, it's a wonder Ja found the time to come up with his phenomenal wordplay. "My style is so touching it could wipe your eye." Slow down, Ja; you're killing us. While I'm on the subject of Jay-Z, no one could overlook the fire he spit on "It's Murda," the second edition of Murder INC. (Jay-Z, DMX, and Ja-Rule). This song has a nice raw beat, while Jay and DMX really shine over it. Even though this song was made for Ja's album, that should not have stopped them from editing his verse completely off the song.
This album isn't without its treats. "Daddy's Little Girl" shows the softer side of the young murderer, as he raps directly to his daughter. The song will remind you of Xzibit's classic "Paparazzi," because of Ja's thorough run down of life's ills. Songs like these, done by "artists" like Ja, loose 100% of their sincerity, however, because they are sandwiched between an endless stream of mindless thug clichés and 2-dimensional hustler portrayals. The rest of the album makes you question whether this song was done for expression, or merely to appeal to idiots easily fooled by the one "from the heart" song. Who could forget DMX's touching conversation with god, after an album of killing people and raping teenage girls?
The other highlight of Ja's debut is "Only Begotten Son," where Ja raps to his father. I was feeling this track's content and beat. He echoes all of the thoughts we (men having grown up without fathers) all live with. But of course, it's still Ja, and that must be taken into account. I find it hard to take a man seriously, when his favorite word is "murda." In almost every song, he screams "muuuurdaa" repetitively, as if dragging out the word is supposed to compensate for the fact he's saying nothing at all. Overall, this album is horrible, at best. Do no buy it. Do not borrow it. If someone tries to give it to you, pretend you're deaf and sign for him to leave you alone.