So at the turn of the century Jeffrey Atkins ruled mainstream radio. While Jay-z was widely regarded as the king of NY Ja was busy selling records and popularizing the sing-song hip-hop flow that is ultra-prevalent today. Beef with 50 Cent put a cap on his career and a recent jail stint for a gun charge hasn't really helped an out of the spotlight artist who is desperate to make a comeback. All that aside, I have missed the sound Ja brought to the game so here is my album review of Ja Rule Pain is Love 2.
"Superstar" is a stretch as Ja goes to the tried and true well concept about being a 'star' having some money and banging broads. It isn't bad but it's pretty boring. "Black Vodka" is a better track and shows Ja can still make songs good enough to get airplay if he was more popular again. "Drown" with Somong and Kenny Dark has Rule asking to be kept safe from falling down and being a victim. This song sounds like it was written and recorded before Ja's bid. Another newcomer Jon Doe, sings the hook on "Never Had Time" over an old sounding dance track about not having time to spend with a lady. "Strange Days" features 700 and Ramzo has Ja using a lighter than usual auto-tune, which is totally unnecessary for him, except for the fact he is going for a futuristic sound. This is like the too late answer to 'Ayo Technology' but it isn't really a bad song, just total pop.
The most well-known feature on the album is Kalina of Dirty Money on "To the Top" on his version of 'swagger talk' or bragging. It is the more east coast version of it so it doesn't feel like Ja is trying too hard to keep up with today's artists. Leah Sigel returns for "Pray 4 the Day" as Ja talks about when he hopes things will get better. Ja has a Maino moment on "Believe" where he talks about how he is the true savior of NY hip-hop. "Spun a Web" featuring Amia is Rule talking about how he was trapped by fame and uses a brooding beat and strong bass line. The hook is a little convoluted but it's a solid way to end the album.
So Ja Rule is back but what does he bring to the table? As before, not much lyrically, I have never heard someone drop a 16 that stayed generic over and over but yet was still directed at the topic. He has singles potential all over the album and can still get hooks done but there isn't that sure-fire breakout hit. The main problem is that he is no longer popular so the songs he makes are wasted with no promotion. Ja Rule has put out a decent album but it isn't the come back effort he really needs to welcome him home from prison.