In the world of rap beefs, the MC with the last word has usually been declared the winner in the court of public opinion. For hip-hop fans, despite a monumental rise and a handful of stone-cold classics, Ja Rule’s story ends with his widely publicized beef with 50 Cent, where Ja failed to produce a timely followup to 50’s “Return of Ja Fool.” But according to Ja, who appears on next week’s People’s Party with Talib Kweli, that’s not really how it went down.
And he makes a pretty good point about just how toothless trading insults across verses really can be.
“We’ve seen a hundred billion rap beefs,” Ja tells Kweli. “No one man shuts down the whole — like, ‘stop.'”
So how did Ja Rule’s career go from topping the Billboard 100 to being in the verbal crosshairs of 50 Cent? According to Ja Rule, it was the federal indictment of Murder Inc Records that really shaped that specific moment in time — distracting him from producing a timely follow-up to Fiddy’s insults.
“When the Feds come in they take all your resources,” Ja explains. “They take your money, they make the people that are dealing with you… those ties are severed. Def Jam severed their ties with us, we didn’t have anything anymore… I can’t really make the records that I want to make to be competitive on a rap level, it was bad timing. So by the time I actually did come and make the records, it was too late, motherfuckers were already like ‘ahh, he already won.'”
You could easily write that off as a bit of revisionist history, but to Ja’s credit he seems to be totally at peace with the narrative people have been running with, telling Kweli:
“You guys will never really understand the whole situation behind it and I don’t really care to explain it. Because people don’t care to hear it. They what it to be what it is, it’s a lot more fun than what it actually is. It’s very entertaining.”
This one will probably remain unchanged in the hip-hop history books but considering the dust has long settled between 50 Cent and Ja Rule, that’s probably fine. Both artists are legends with great songs, that can’t be taken from them. Check out the full clip from next week’s People’s Party with Talib Kweli above to hear more of the story, including why Ja Rule believes 50 was playing both victim and bully.