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by
1 January, 2003@12:00 am
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    ?Yes, Ja Rule’s an R&B singer.  Yes, his collaborations with Ashanti are redundant.  Yes, he’s not as street as when he was DMX’s dawg in ’98.  But to fully understand the impact of 50 Cent’s verbal snuffs requires listening to Ja Rule’s new album Blood In My Eye.  The word obsessed comes to mind.  Eight tracks.  Four skits.  All getting at 50, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and anyone else associated with AfterMath.  If this is his comeback, Ja’s corner should throw in the towel because it’s over.

     Ja’s first single “Clap Back” gives ample evidence of his ability to make a street record.  Scott Storch’s addictive two-bar guitar loop, supplemented with thunderous kicks and Ja screaming “Let’s take them to war!” could induce even the biggest of pussies to fight.  But his incessant insult hurling at the Aftermath clique on the title track and “Things Gon’ Change”, is unnecessary and will test the patience of even his most loyal fans. This is exemplified by
the scathing freestyle, “The Wrap”(which burrows the instrumental from Mobb Deep’s “The Learning” (Burn) where Ja touches on Murda Inc’s money laundering rumors (“if its dirty/then we rinsing it off”), his R&B offerings (“they say I rap to rhythm and blues/but when I turn on the radio I hear ya’ll niggas rapping it too”) and further insults aimed at Dr. Dre (“Niggas want to ball but can’t on the West Coast/Dre day’s been dead a long time ago”).  But of course Ja saves his most venomous pot shots for 50 Cent “ay yo this nigga/this nigga running around talking bout/I got shot nine times/I got shot/want everybody to be motherfucking sympathetic/ay yo 50/pull your skirt down B/ay yo niggas get shot everyday B/you tough.”  While 50 has certainly played his part in escalating the feud, with the amount of time and anger Ja dedicates to 50 with Blood In My Eye, he comes away sounding like a stalker and further disputes his claims to want to end the beef (although the conversation with Minister Farrakhan did come attached with a disclamier that stipulated Ja was in a more combative state of mind when this LP was recorded).

     Aggravating matters is the myriad of JV rappers who sneak onto the album.  James Gotti  enhances the wackness level of “The Life” with his stiff delivery and puzzling similes (“That’s why cats don’t hang around me like Chinese stores”).  Other posse cuts like “The INC Is Back” gives shine to more varsity rejects like Black Child and Shadow. 

            As expected, Ja’s 2Pac fetish continues on Blood.  He mimics Pac’s rhythmic enunciation on “Race Against Time II” drawling “Ridadadadadadie” during the hook.  Also, he allies himself with former Pac affiliate Fatal Hussein throughout the album in hopes of maybe channeling Pac’s energy and mystique (not to mention gaining more ammunition for the war he is waging with 50 Cent).

            In the end, Blood In My Eye clears up little about where Ja currently stands as an artist.  The album shows no growth and feels like a mixtape with all the guest appearances.  Ja’s far removed from the highly sought-after songwriter who helped Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, and others collect tons of plaques.  Instead of reestablishing himself, he wastes our time reigniting a beef he claims he wants to end.

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