Ja Rule knows what it’s like to be in the shoes of Ashanti, his Murder Inc. labelmate and “Always on Time” co-star.
He can remember when not too long ago he felt the pressure of being a star on the rise. Now that he’s a bona fide hitmaker, Ja still feels pressure.
But keeping the songs coming that help his star hover in the stratosphere is the least of his worries. Lately he’s been feeling some heat from below the heavens.
“I’ve rethought a lot of things,” he said Tuesday about his work in progress, The Last Temptation. “I have records that I was gonna hold back. I’m gonna let those records fly. I was gonna regress when I should progress.”
Here’s a guy who used to go around battling other MCs with DMX, and now he’s singing (or gruffly chanting, depending on how you perceive it) with Mary J. Blige. He’s hearing the murmurs in the background; the streets are talking. Though he’s become a radio and video outlet staple, Ja said some people are not feeling his progression.
“Being that I’ve been making records and they’ve been coming out so big, you get a stigma on you that you’re a commercial artist now,” he said. “I think that’s an unfair stigma. Sometimes people make you feel like you have to regress back to something they just understand as you…. I don’t want to do that with The Last Temptation.”
His biggest temptation with the new album, he said, was to make a disc peppered with “street tales.”
“At first I was going to really do something with this album, The Last Temptation. I was gonna take it over the top and really gutter it out. But you know what? [There are] a lot of people out there that are trying to emulate my formula. So if muthaf–ers are emulating my formula, why should I break down and not give the people what they’re used to me doing?
“I think I wanna continue to show people my growth as an artist and continue to make the music I know I can make – not just pigeonhole myself and make all street records. I don’t think that’s fair to my audience. I should make all kinds of records.”