Ja Rule : Pain Is Love

2Pac- influenced NY gangsta rap...

It’s been a productive 12 months for Jeffrey Atkins. On the back of a multi-platinum album and starring role in the box-office smash ‘The Fast And The Furious’, the diminutive Queens native has become one of America’s biggest rap stars.

With ‘Pain Is Love’, his third solo offering, Ja Rule once again sticks to the 2Pac thug ethos for rap success: spit hard, fight to survive, catch a few bodies if you need to but don’t be afraid to show your loving, caring, tormented side. Or as Pac put it, [I]”rap for the bitches not the niggas”[/I] – as evidenced here on songs like ‘Lost Little Girl’ and the Murder Remix of ‘I’m Real’, featuring none other than J-Lo.

‘Pain Is Love’ has its moments. From the adrenalin-filled ‘Dial M For Murder’ to the gangsta swing of ‘Smokin And Ridin’ Ja and producer Irv Gotti create a winning formula, drawing heavily on the West Coast/Down South gangsta sound so popular among many of New York’s rap elite these days. On the title track, when Rule laments [I]”I’ll sacrifice my life/fuck all the dumb shit/’Coz being black and broke’s gettin’ redundant/Might grow to be a world leader like X and King/If I can live a little longer than Pac and Big”[/I], you feel his words. But the undeniable 2Pac

rhetoric and obvious DMX similarities are difficult to ignore.

If we needed confirmation, the late Shakur appears in all his ghostly grandeur on ‘So Much Pain’. Yeah, it’s very much a formula, but it’s undoubtedly a formula for success.

Rick Thorne