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Ja Rule : The Last Temptation
...a damn lucky chancer...
Hence Ja's fourth album is a darker, moodier beast, full of self-aggrandizing raps about how he's gonna get "even before I die". Where before all the talk about murder and mayhem was just part of the Murder Inc.-styled persona, here it's tinged with real frustration and menace: "If I ever walk the green mile / You can blame my lifestyle" he growls on 'Murder Reigns'. Maybe he's starting to believe his own claims to be Tupac's natural heir: recent statements in the New York Post about how "If I was Justin Timberlake I wouldn't have to walk around with a gun, but when I'm around a group of black people, a defense comes on," suggests he's buying in to a dangerous myth.
At least his grimmer outlook has inspired some equally raw music. 'Pop Niggas' sees the Neptunes fashion a deep, piano-driven groove which nods to old skool house as much as their patented bass-thumping r'n'b, while the excellent arcade machine funk of 'Destiny' is the most out-there track Ja's been attached to. He still wants to hijack the charts - the Bobby Brown-assisted 'Thug Lovin'' and token Ashanti duet 'Mesmerize' are perfect pop-rap gems - and he's still going on about Ecstasy (he's "the president of the United Ghettos Of E-merica" apparently), but really 'The Last Temptation' is aimed at the doubters, not the kids. And it's really not enough to convince them Ja Rule's anything more than a damn lucky chancer.
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