What Ever Happened To Ja Rule?

Rapper Ja Rule ruled the airwaves in the late '90s and early '00s. From anthems like "Holla Holla" to smooth R&B collaborations with Ashanti, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Milian, R.U.L.E. and his songs were everywhere. But what happened to Ja Rule after his reign at the top of the charts? And where is Ja Rule now?

When Murder Inc. Records came tumbling down, Ja's career followed, as he engaged in - and lost - a well-publicized conflict with up-and-comer 50 Cent. He had a few acting roles and attempted to start his own label, but things hit a snag when he went to prison in 2011. But the Ja Rule stories don't end there. When he got out, he revived his career by penning an autobiography, touring his biggest hits, and engaging in some notable business ventures - though some were more successful than others.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • His Career Went Downhill After His Label's Legal Troubles And A Rap Beef

    When Murder Inc. Records, the record label Ja Rule signed with in 1999, became the focus of a federal investigation in the early 2000s, all of its music ventures were shelved. Ja's career suffered; Murder Inc.'s parent label, Def Jam, blocked the release of some of Ja's old music, thus preventing him from making money on it. Murder Inc., its founders Chris and Irv Gotti, and Ja also got slammed in the press.

    And then there was his beef with 50 Cent. The Queens rappers had a long history of physical conflict, but things got ugly on the radio when 50's career began to take off. The two released scathing diss tracks, but when 50 Cent's debut disc, Get Rich or Die Tryin', blew up, that was all she wrote. 

  • He Went To Prison

    He Went To Prison
    Photo: John Byerly, CIV / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 2010, Ja Rule reached a plea deal to serve two years in prison for criminal possession of a weapon, stemming from a 2007 arrest. Before his sentencing, he pleaded guilty in 2011 to tax evasion for his failure to pay taxes on more than $3 million in income; he was ordered to pay more than $1 million in back taxes and fines.

    Ja was released from prison in May 2013.

  • He Started His Own Indie Record Label

    He Started His Own Indie Record Label
    Photo: Tim Moore / Flickr / CC 2.0

    While embroiled in legal troubles, Ja released a few relatively unsuccessful albums. He stepped away from Murder Inc. in 2009 to found his own independent label, Mpire Music Group. With Mpire, he released Pain Is Love 2, a sequel to his hugely successful 2001 album; the new release severely underperformed.

  • He Wrote An Autobiography

    He Wrote An Autobiography
    Video: YouTube

    Ja Rule published a memoir called Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man in 2014. The book covered Ja's professional successes, details about his wife and children, and how stardom changed him.

    In one revealing anecdote, Ja noted that he lost his virginity at 10 or 11. He wrote: "Having your first taste, you know, like a vampire having your first taste of blood, is something you don't want to stop. You want to continue."

  • He Helped Create A Controversial Credit Card

    He Helped Create A Controversial Credit Card
    Video: YouTube

    In 2015, entrepreneur Billy McFarland hired Ja Rule to be the creative head and spokesman for Magnises, a credit card service that set out to become "an exclusive Black Card with special perks & VIP access for millennials." The service cost $250 annually.

    Members said many of their promised rewards never came, or were canceled the day before they were scheduled.

  • His Fyre Festival Was A Colossal Disaster

    His Fyre Festival Was A Colossal Disaster
    Photo: Web Summit / Flickr / CC 2.0

    Ja Rule made more headlines in April 2017, again for the wrong reasons. He was one of the minds behind Fyre Festival. It was supposed to be an exclusive music experience in the Bahamas, complete with celebrities and luxury accommodations. In reality, it was abysmal. The event ran out of food, housing was non-existent, and guests who had paid hundreds of dollars weren't even allowed to leave.

    Ja said he was "heartbroken" and that the festival was "not a scam," but the venture came with some red flags. He co-organized Fyre Festival with Billy McFarland, with whom he'd partnered on Magnises, the failed credit card service. Ja Rule and his fellow Fyre Festival planners have been hit with multiple lawsuits.