Monday, September 30, 2013

Ja Rule Revisited

Yes, you read that right. This will be my second post on Ja Rule, however, I'll be going in a different direction with this one (and I'll be posting the link to my first post on him at the conclusion of this). After listening to a few clips of a recent interview he did with Angie Martinez, as well as some of his older material, this prompted me to revisit his 1999 debut album, "Venni Vetti Vecci" (which means "I came, I saw, I conquered") and create this post talking about it. And for the sake of this post, I'm not going to discuss his career at length or the beef with 50 Cent, respectively. This will be focused solely on the album. My cousin Andre copped this one before I did, and I ended up borrowing it, so that's how I heard it the first time. I didn't buy it myself until several months later, and depending on how things go with this revisit, it may be re-added back to my collection. So without further delay, let's go back to 1999 shall we!


Release date- June 1, 1999



1. The March Prelude

I've always liked this intro, mostly because even today, if I'm in a frustrating situation, I tend to ask, "Lord can I get a break?!" Just thought I'd throw that out there, lol!

2. We Here Now
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Lil Rob
Additional Vocals By: Black Child

This was a tight welcome, if you will, following "The March Prelude", complete with a good hook from Black Child and equally good lyrics from Ja.

4 out of 5

3. World's Most Dangerous (featuring Nemesis)
Produced By: Irv Gotti, Lil Rob & Ty Fyffe

This apply titled song is simply dope. Ja and Nemesis come off well over a smooth yet menacing beeat.

4 out of 5

4. Let's Ride
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Lil Rob

Man this is one of my favorite songs on the album. Irv and Rob's beat is SO tight and the bassline throughout is just awesome. Ja lyrically delivers the goods with the double time flow time. How many down to ride?!

5 out of 5

5. Holla Holla 
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Tai

Ja's first hit, and not only was it a hit, but this was big in the summer of 99 and it was everywhere. It received a great deal of radio and video play and it still holds up today.

5 out of 5

6. Kill Em All (featuring Jay-Z)
Produced By: Self

"Respect mine till the day of my demise, baby I kill em all!"

That above line from the hook says it all. This is another dope song, assisted by Jay-Z, who's only on the hook. 

4 out of 5

7. I Hate Nigguz (Skit)

8. Nigguz Theme
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Lil Rob

"It's plain to see, you can't change me, cause I'm gon be a nigga for life"

Long time fans will recognize that above line and immediately come to the correct conclusion that it's a direct influence from N.W.A. While different from N.W.A.'s "Real Niggaz Don't Die", Ja puts his own twist on the matter and it's very good.

4 out of 5

9. Suicide Freestyle (featuring Case)
Produced By: Irv Gotti 

Since it's listed as a freestyle, I'm not going to rate it as an actual song. It's good too, as Ja brings back the double time flow, albeit briefly.

10. Story To Tell
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Lil Rob

An abbreviated version of this appeared on the soundtrack to the movie "Belly", but this longer version is clearly better. Ja is not telling an actual story, but rather with the experiences of life on the streets, he does have a story to tell. In fact, he almost gives the impression that although he could've told you a story right then and there, you'll get samples of it.

4 out of 5

11. Chris Black (Skit)

12. Count on Your Nigga
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Lil Rob

"When in doubt, count on your nigga"

Again, we have one line that sums up an entire song, and Ja does good in painting this picture of loyalty.

4 out of 5

13. It's Murda (featuring Jay-Z & DMX)
Produced By: Ty Fyffe




This marked the second collaboration of "Murder Inc" after "Murdergram" from the "Streets Is Watching" soundtrack. The chemistry that was on "Murdergram" is present here and the beat and lyrics are just as hard. Also, look at that XXL cover. I remember seeing that at the time and thought, this is going to be big, as you had three of the hottest MCs at the time coming together for an album. And with that all star lineup, likely bringing in top notch producers and guests, along with the backing of Def Jam, this had the makings of a classic, can't miss project. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons (I've recently heard that it was due to egos), it never saw the light of day. "Murdergram" and "It's Murda" are extreme cases of what could've been. Man.

5 out of 5
 
14. E-Dub & Ja
Produced By: Erick Sermon & Irv Gotti

This was a cool collabo with Ja and Erick Sermon. E-Dub and Ja, that's all you need to know!

4 out of 5

15. 187 Murda Baptiss Church (Skit)

While some may call this blasphemy, I didn't take it too serious. It's quite funny too, which was the point, comedy.

16. Murda 4 Life (featuring Memphis Bleek)
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Tai

This collabo, ANOTHER dope one, was also featured on Memphis Bleek's debut, "Coming Of Age", also released in 1999. It's bouncy but still hard at the same time.

4 out of 5

17. Daddy's Little Baby (featuring Ronald Isley)
Produced By: Self

This was a NICE, heart felt dedication to Ja's daughter Brittany, and speaking as a father myself, any song that's dedicated to one's child is special and he should still be proud of this. I hope she's heard it too. Ron Isley was perfect for the hook too.
5 out of 5

18. Race Against Time
Produced By: Irv Gotti & Lil Rob

Although time waits for no man, Ja's saying he's still going to live his life through it all, even if he gets too hot. I like this one right here.

4 out of 5

19. Only Begotten Son
Produced By: Irv Gotti, Lil Rob & Ty Fyffe

In what could arguably be the best song on the album, this is Ja's testimony, mostly due to the lack of a true father figure. 

5 out of 5

20. The Murderers (featuring Black Child & Tah Murdah)
Produced By: Irv Gotti & DL

This was a very good closer. Ja brought his usual, however, Black Child and Tah Murdah were not bad on this one, and I feel it was the dope beat that brought out some fire in them.
4 out of 5


I know it has been years since I've listened to this album in its entirety, but HOT DAMN it has aged VERY well. In my view, Ja fired on all cylinders here. Lyrically he was at his best and most inspired and he had the production to match. Guests Jay-Z, DMX, Erick Sermon, Memphis Bleek and even Black Child and Tah Murdah contributed nicely as well. Ja essentially had something for everyone here, as you got something for the clubs ("Holla Holla"), the streets ("It's Murda", "Let's Ride", "World's Most Dangerous", etc), fatherhood ("Daddy's Little Girl"), loyalty ("Count on Your Nigga"), survival ("Race Against Time"), plus more. This album is going back in my collection and I strongly recommend a revisit if you haven't played this album in a long time, as it definitely holds up today. This is clearly Ja Rule's best album and looking at the ratings for the songs above, this all but guarantees a 4.5 star rating. 


Also, here's the link for my initial post on Ja Rule if you're interested.

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