Ja Rule does his first interview since being released from prison, and discusses what it was like behind his bars, his past beefs, and more.
Ja Rule was released from jail this past July, after serving two years for gun charges. The rapper finally did his very first interview since his release, talking to Complex on his life in prison, his beef with 50 Cent and Eminem (which he says is squashed), what's coming up music-wise and more.
Check out some excerpts from the interview below.
It must been a trip for people in prison, like “This is Ja Rule!”
I got along with everybody. I knew quite a few guys that was up there, so it wasn’t a hard situation at all. Being away from your family, and your friends, and your kids, that’s the hardest part about being in prison. And the little things; a nice toothbrush, good toilet paper.
The food wasn’t great. I wanted lasagna. I wanted [my wife] to make lasagna when I came home because I hadn’t had lasagna in so long. My wife brought me packages when I was in Midstate so I was able to have spaghetti and meatballs and stuff that we made. I ate the best you can for being in that situation.
When I came home I just wanted to have a little bit of lasagna. I wanted to get a good steak. And a cheeseburger. I think that was the first thing I ate when I got out. I went to TGIFridays, just stopped on the road and grabbed something real quick. Shit like that gets to you when you’re locked up, but it’s all doable. If you got to do it, you man up and do it.
So you didn’t have any beefs [in prison]?
Not really at all, which was surprising. I thought, there’s always at least one out of every group, there’s always one bad seed or one dude that wants to try to be whatever. But it wasn’t like that. It’s kind of high school. You go in, you got your A crowd, you got your B crowd, you got your nerds, you got your jocks. It’s kind of the same way, and as soon as I walked into the joint I was a part of the A crowd. Shoutout to everybody in Ray Brook, Midstate.
You also seem to have gotten your body in as good shape as your mind.
I wanted to get in good shape for a number of reasons. First of all, to kind of keep my mind off of everything that’s going on on the outside. They say a strong body makes a strong mind. When you feel good you think good thoughts. It kept me sane a lot of days.
We talked about the gun charge, but what about the tax charge? How do you feel about that now?
We all make mistakes. I was young and making a lot of money. I want to make it clear, I wasn’t charged with tax evasion; I was charged with failure to file, which is a little bit different.
Of course, a lot of people will always associate you with your beefs: 50 Cent, Eminem. How do you look at those conflicts now?
Man, that just goes back to me being young, full of energy, and not giving a fuck about nothing. That fuck-the-world attitude. I’m just happy that I’ve grown past that. Those things are not even a thought to me anymore. It was so long ago, almost 10 years ago. I hope young artists look at those things [like] it’s part of hip-hop history. Enjoy, man. Enjoy what hip-hop is about: It’s always been about the battles, the beefs, artists going back and forth.
For me, it’s not a thing where you take sides. I had a lot of guys in jail come up to me and they’d be like “Yo, Rule I fucks with you, man. Fuck homeboy, I ain’t never like him anyway.” I’d look at him like, “It don’t got to be that. You can like him and like me too, it’s fine.” It’s not a “I’m on this side or I’m on that side” thing. If you like his music too that’s fine. I even dance to some of his records when they come on in the club.
I don’t have no malice towards anybody. I really don’t care anymore. I’m more about family and my kids and things that really matter in life. So I don’t even talk about those issues in interviews anymore. It was a period in time and we move on.
So is everything squashed between you, 50 and Em?
For me it is. I know for those guys, it is too in some ways. I don’t think any of us really think about it anymore. We have a bigger responsibility to the kids that are coming up behind us to be role models for them, and I think that’s more where everybody is now. I think we’re all adults and we’re grown.
People often say 50 killed your career—that’s the popular narrative. Do you think that’s true? Is that what happened to your music career?
Of course not. It’s so many things that went into that that people don’t understand. I’m writing a book, so I guess you can go get my book and get the full story of how things unfolded. The hip-hop fans are not privy to a lot of backdoor conversations.
What’s next for you musically?
I’m very happy with where I am in my career and where my career is going. I’m ecstatic. There are a lot of great things to come, whether it be music or film or TV or books or a fitness line, whatever the fuck I choose to do. I did a record with N.O.R.E. that’s real hot. It’s me, N.O.R.E., Weezy, Baby—it’ll be out soon. I also just did another record with Fat Joe; he came out to the house to see me. I had an idea to do a record called “Trading Places”: I’m coming home, he’s going in. We played with that concept a little bit and made a hot record. It’s all about being creative.