Reinvention is the key to pop culture relevance. Unless you possess some sort of transcendent star power, chances are you’re going to have to scratch and claw for every opportunity to keep your name on the ticker.
So I guess, then, it wasn’t the least bit surprising that everyone’s favorite gravel-voiced, MURDA lovin’ don of early millennial hip-hop, Ja Rule, resurfaced on Fox News’ business segment last week. He touched on sweeping generalizations of the rioting in Baltimore1, his new credit card venture with Magnises2, and then finished by endorsing Hillary Clinton for the 2016 election.3
It’s been a quiet few years for Ja. In 2010 he performed at least one show with Rytmus and Tina in Pisek, Czech Republic, and I know this because I saw a poster promoting it and took it with me to frolic in dreamy meadows. Not actually going to the show itself is one of my greatest regrets, but Ja and I will always have that meadow.
Then he went to jail, for two years, on gun and tax evasion charges. And in the two years he’s been out I think he’s realized that Ashanti isn’t around to sing the hook anymore. Guys like Fetty Wap have cornered the market on romantic bangers. That old thing isn’t coming back anytime soon, at least not through your local FM station.
But Ja is a master shape shifter. There is a visceral importance to Ja’s presence on the grid that simply wouldn’t allow him to disappear quietly into the sunset. I can’t live without him and since I let that Czech poster wither and die, there’s been a Ja-sized hole in my heart that I’ve tried in futility to fill by playing his Pandora station at parties. Dave Chappelle once famously asked, in reference to Ja Rule being interviewed following 9/11, “Who gives a fuck what Ja Rule thinks at a time like this?”
Well, I do, Dave. I give a fuck what Ja Rule thinks about everything. When I saw him sitting there in a three-piece suit, peering over the rim of his glasses and looking a little rounder in the cheek than the cut Murder, Inc. figure I remember, the future was clear to me.
I accept Ja Rule as my new political squawk box overlord. Is it weird that he endorsed Hillary Clinton while simultaneously championing Jeb Bush as a great candidate? Yes, very. But at the same time this is a man who understands both sides of the coin. Going to prison on gun AND tax evasion charges? That’s half-blue-collar, half-white-collar mastery that is tailor-made for cable television. And considering the cacophony of nonsense that we get from supposed experts on news outlets, why shouldn’t there be a place for Ja?
It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for it. We’ve seen 2 Chainz eviscerate Nancy Grace, we’ve had KRS-One go toe-to-toe with Sean Hannity, and best of all, Cam’ron giving a schoolyard taunt to Bill O’Reilly. Rappers and cable news anchors joining forces is one of those unlikely syntheses of entertainment potential.
So I want to hear more, Ja. I want to know how you would deal with Putin. I want to know how you think we can stop the spread of Boko Haram. I would damn sure to love to know your thoughts on Roe v. Wade, the war on drugs, and ObamaCare. Literally the only thing I don’t want to hear about is your new credit card, because you can shove those $250 annual fees back up your shiny new cufflinks. Let’s get that swagger back!