Inside the twists and turns of Ja Rule's 3-decade career, from platinum rap albums and a cameo in 'The Fast and the Furious' to promoting the disastrous Fyre Festival
Mark AbadiFeb 16, 2019, 04:52 IST
NetflixJa Rule and Billy McFarland, cofounders of Fyre Media.Netflix
Ja Rule, one of the creators behind Fyre Festival, announced on Thursday he wanted to create another music festival.
It would add another unbelievable chapter to Ja Rule's career, which has spanned three decades and featured chart-topping albums, box-office bombs, and a bizarre feud with 50 Cent.
Ja Rule has managed to avoid liability for the doomed Fyre Festival.
Rapper Ja Rule, one of the creators of the infamous Fyre Festival, revealed on Thursday that he wants to create another music festival, saying, "in the midst of chaos, there's opportunity."
The rapper has denied liability for the catastrophic festival, which was the subject of two recent documentaries, and he has distanced himself from Fyre CEO and convicted fraudster, Billy McFarland, who orchestrated the event.
Such a venture would add another unbelievable chapter to Ja Rule's career, which has spanned three decades and has featured chart-topping albums, a couple of box office bombs, and a bizarre feud with 50 Cent that took a humorous turn months ago.
Read on to see the remarkable twists and turns of Ja Rule's career:
Ja Rule, born Jeffrey Atkins in 1976, grew up in the neighborhood of Hollis in Queens, New York City.
Ja Rule started rapping professionally in 1993 ...
... and burst into the mainstream in 1998 as a featured performer on the Jay-Z single "Can I Get A..."
He's been married to his wife Aisha Atkins since 2001.
In 2000 and 2001, he released back-to-back No. 1-selling albums: "Rule 3:36" and "Pain Is Love." They sold a combined 10 million albums and were both certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
His most popular single was a remix of Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real," which topped the charts for five weeks in the fall of 2001.
His next album, 2002's "The Last Temptation," was also a commercial success, going platinum and yielding the hit single "Mesmerize." The song was a hit, although it did make Blender's list of the 50 worst songs of all time.
In late 2002, the same week "The Last Temptation" dropped, Ja Rule tried his hand at acting, costarring with Steven Seagal in the action film "Half Past Dead." The film was a failure commercially and critically, earning just $19 million against a budget of $25 million and holding a paltry 3% favorability rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In 2002, he was also named GQ's Man of the Year in the solo musician category.
Ja Rule has had multiple run-ins with the law. In 2007, police in New York City found a loaded semi-automatic handgun with the serial number scratched off hidden in the rapper's car. He was later sentenced to two and a half years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.
In 2011, while Ja Rule was in prison, he received an additional 28-month sentence for tax evasion after admitting in federal court he hadn't filed taxes for fives years between 2004 and 2008. He agreed to pay back $1.1 million in tax debt as well as penalties to the IRS.
Ja Rule was released from prison in May 2013. Five months later, he played a drug dealer-turned-devout Christian in the film "I'm In Love with a Church Girl," which featured what Complex called "the most unintentionally hilarious movie scene of 2013."
His other film credits include roles in "The Fast and The Furious" (2001), "Scary Movie 3" (2003), and "Assault on Precinct 13" (2005).
He earned $15,000 for his bit role in "The Fast and the Furious," but turned down $500,000 for a larger role in its sequel, "2 Fast 2 Furious," according to the sequel's director John Singelton.
Throughout his career, Ja Rule has maintained a longstanding feud against fellow rapper 50 Cent. Their feud took a turn in October 2018 when 50 Cent claimed he bought 200 front-row tickets to an upcoming Ja Rule concert just to keep them empty. The show was ultimately canceled.
If his Instagram is any indication, Ja Rule has been known to spend his time playing golf ...
... kicking back on yachts ...
... and skydiving in Hawaii.
Ja Rule met Billy McFarland, the convicted fraudster behind Fyre Festival, in 2015 through McFarland's company Magnises, which billed itself as a black card for millennials. The rapper helped promote Magnises, which was eventually revealed to be a scam.
Ja Rule cofounded the media-booking company Fyre Media with McFarland in 2016. McFarland soon began drawing up plans for a 2017 music festival, the ill-fated Fyre Festival, to promote the Fyre app.
Photos from his Instagram, posted in November 2016, show him on a boat, surrounded by women.
Ja Rule and McFarland advertised Fyre Festival as an upscale music festival on a private island in the Bahamas, complete with luxury beach villas, gourmet food, and Instagram models and influencers.
The experience customers received was the polar opposite, as guests arrived to a scene not remotely close to the promotional images they had seen. The event was abruptly canceled after guests had already arrived.
As millions of people watched the disaster unfold online, Ja Rule was quick to distance himself from the fiasco, saying on Twitter, "I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT."
After two documentaries about the festival were released in January 2019, Ja Rule denied liability for the event again, saying he too had been a victim of McFarland's scamming.
McFarland was sentenced last year to six years in prison after pleading guilty to wire-fraud charges, and was forced to return $26 million that investors had pumped into the festival. Ja Rule emerged from the scandal relatively unscathed, although he and McFarland are facing multiple ongoing class-action lawsuits over the festival.
This month, Ja Rule revealed his latest venture, a booking app called Iconn, which some critics say seems eerily similar to the original Fyre app the Fyre Festival was meant to promote.
And on Thursday, Ja Rule announced his idea of creating another music festival, simply saying, "in the midst of chaos, there's opportunity."