“Where would I be without you?”
Former Murder Inc. stars Ja Rule and Ashanti churned out a string of huge hits in the early 2000s as hip-hop duet partners. But as the label’s fortunes faltered, with the hits drying up and CEO Irv Gotti facing federal indictments, Ashanti moved on and Ja subsequently found himself in prison on weapons possession and tax evasion charges.
Nonetheless, in a recent interview with The Grio, Ashanti revealed that she has stayed in contact with Ja throughout his stint in prison.
“I have written letters. We’ve communicated … we’ve written each other letters,” Ashanti said. “I’ve sent cards and things like that.”
Ja, born Jeffrey Atkins, could be coming home in a few months after spending almost two years behind bars. Ashanti feels like he has enough raw talent to return to his career and to the charts. She revealed just how much he helped her in their early days as collaborators.
“I think Ja Rule is super duper talented,” she shared. “When I got into the studio with him … and just his melodies, his lyrics, and how he puts a record together and how he can make it catchy. So many people have … I don’t want to say ‘copied’ … but Ja has a swag that a lot of people came in after him doing. So I definitely think that Ja has what it takes to make a hit record.”
Ashanti has a point. Artists like Drake and Future have combined rapping and singing in varying degrees, something that Ja was criticized for a decade ago when he partnered with the songstress on pop hits like “Always On Time” and “Mesmerize,” and performed duets with other singers like Jennifer Lopez and Christina Milian.