02-19-2017  1:31 pm      •     
McMenamins

Born in Hollis, Queens on Feb. 29, 1976, Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins began rapping professionally while still in his teens, although he really made a big splash in 1999 with the release of "Venni Vetti Vecci." That solo album went platinum on the strength of the single "Holla Holla," thereby kickstarting an enviable musical career which has produced a half-dozen more studio lps while netting the popular hip-hop artist four Grammy nominations and counting.

He also collaborated on hit songs with everybody from J-Lo ("I'm Real") to Christina Milian ("Between Me and You") to Ashanti ("Always on Time") to R. Kelly ("Wonderful"). Meanwhile, he expanded his repertoire to include acting, appearing in such films as The Fast and the Furious, Scary Movie 3, Assault on Precinct 13 and Shall we Dance, to name a few.

No stranger to controversy, Ja also became embroiled in some famous feuds, most notably, with rival rapper 50 Cent. He was recently been released from prison after spending a couple of years behind bars for tax evasion and gun possession.

Here, Ja talks about his new film, 'I'm in Love with a Church Girl,' a faith-based tale of redemption chronicling the real-life reformation of drug dealer-turned-pastor Galley Molina.  





Kam Williams: Hey Ja, thanks for the interview.
Ja Rule: What's happening, killer?

KW: I appreciate the opportunity.
JR: Me too, Kam. Thanks for having me.

KW: I'm originally from your neck of the woods, St. Albans.
JR: [Laughs] No doubt, no doubt! Queens in the building!
 
KW: I told my readers I'd be interviewing you, and they sent in a lot of questions. Reverend Florine Thompson, who is also from Queens, asks: What interested you in I'm in Love with a Church Girl?
JR: First of all, I just enjoyed reading the script. Second, I also liked a lot of the parallels between me and the character Miles Montego. Those similarities convinced me that I would like to be a part of the project.

KW: Florine would also like to know whether making this film has influenced your spiritual relationship with your Higher Power?
JR: Absolutely! I've always been a spiritual person who believed in a Higher Power. So, I've always had my 1-on-1 with God, even if I wasn't much of a religious person. But I would definitely have to say that this movie brought me even a little closer to God.

KW: Lester Chisholm asks: Has the experience of working with Pastor Molina on this production enhanced your life?
JR: Definitely! The movie is Galley's life story. Galley Molina's a great inspiration and role model for a lot of young kids out there.

KW: Documentary director Kevin Williams asks: How did you prepare for the role?
JR: One of the things I did was I went to church with Galley to study him, because I thought I'd be doing more preaching in the film.

KW: Was it weird playing him with him right there on the set?
JR: No, that's part of the beauty of doing a true story, having the person that the picture's about there. I felt fortunate to be able to get his advice about how to approach the character and his input about how this or that scene should play out. So, it was great to have Galley there. 

KW: What was it like working with this cast, Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, Vincent Pastore, etcetera?
JR: Adrienne and I have known each other for a long time. Me and Stephen, too! And Vincent and I worked on two films together prior to this one. So, it was great just being around everybody again and spending time together on the set! 

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?
JR: This is really an inspirational film which is all about connecting with people who aren't that much into church, although it's for church people, too. That's the beauty of the film.  

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: Do you think if gangsta rappers really fell in love with 'Church Girls' they might stop saying horrible and abusive things about females in their songs?
JR: [LOL] Maybe… maybe… She may be onto something. [Laughs some more]

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you thing that reggae is at the root of what is happening today in EDM [Electronic Dance Music] and trip-hop?
JR: Trip-hop? I don't know if I ever heard of trip-hop. [Asks his friends if they know what it is.] I'm in a room of hip-hop heads, and nobody ever heard of it. But EDM, absolutely!

KW: Marsha Evans says she's a resident of Kew Gardens, and a friend of Reverend Run. She says congrats on your daughter's starting at Hampton.
JR: Aw, thank you!

KW: She says she's run into Alan Hevesi [former NYS Comptroller] a few times at the local foreign film theater and that he smiled when she mentioned your name. She'd like to know whether you've applied any of the financial advice you received from him while in prison? 
JR: [Chuckles] Heavy D, that's my boy. Alan Hevesi and I forged a great relationship while in prison. I'm glad he's home now. He's an older man, so he belongs home, not behind bars. But I definitely benefitted from his knowledge. I used to pick his brain a lot while we watched the New York Knicks on TV.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
JR: No, I think I've been asked everything under the sun.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
JR: My reflection. [LOL] No, that's a tough question. I see a man that's in the process of growth, going from one end to another.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
JR: A minute ago. I have one everyday, Kam.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
JR: Chocolate lava cake.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
JR: I'm a breakfast type of guy. Don't get me wrong. I can cook, I'm kinda nice on the burner, but I enjoy making breakfast. I do it all… Scrambled eggs… French toast… Pancakes… Breakfast is my thing.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
JR: Hellbound on His Trail by Hampton Sides.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 
JR: Oh man, we were just playing something in there, but I can't recall what it was.

KW: What's up for you next, musically?
JR: Actually, I just dropped two new records called "Fresh Out da Pen" and "Everything." They're available on iTunes.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
JR: That's a difficult question. It's tough to say, because I like a lot of them.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
JR: I'm an adrenaline guy. I like to do stuff that gets my blood pumping, like roller coasters or jumping out of planes. I'm into all that crazy stuff.

KW: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?
JR: The best decision I ever made, period, was to get into the music business.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
JR: It'd be a toss-up between world peace and ending poverty.

KW: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend the time? 
JR: With my family.

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
JR: A lion.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
JR: Hmm… Playing with this very noisy popper toy when I was about 4. It looked like a lawnmower, was round at the bottom, and had little balls in it that would go "Pow! Pow! Pow!" We lived in a tiny apartment, so as you can imagine, there was no escaping the popper. [LOL] My mother had to hide it from me.

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
JR: Invincibility.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 
JR: Selfishness. To be the best at what you do in any field, and to accomplish the goals you set for yourself, you have to be somewhat selfish.

KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?
JR: I'd probably be an athlete, either basketball, football or boxing. I was good at those sports.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
JR: My own, the L.I.F.E. Foundation.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
JR: Walk carefully! Tread light!

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
JR: As an artist who was really passionate about his work. And as an inspiration. I do what I do to inspire people.

KW: Can you give me a Ja Rule question, I can ask other people I interview?
JR: Yeah, here's a good one: If you had to spend all of your money in a month, how would do it? [Chuckles]

KW: That's a great one. Thanks, Ja, and best of luck with the film.
JR: Sure, Kam, thanks a lot. 

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow