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Venni, Vetti, Vecci: 20th Anniversary

Ja Rule: Venni, Vetti, Vecci
Def Jam Records 1999

By: Mic Cool

Just over 20 years ago in late 90’s, Jeffrey Atkins aka Ja Rule appeared on Mic Geronimo’s “Time To Build”.

Rising producer Irv Gotti already put his stamp on Jay-Z with production on Jigga’s Reasonable Doubt. Then he helped groom a young and hungry DMX, but his eyes were fixated on Ja Rule. Irv wanted to get Rule out of his TVT deal and needed him to go solo. There was a video station called “The Box” where if u called in the most times your video would get played. Irv called in multiple times to play the first Ja Rule video “Holla Holla”. This would go on to be Ja’s first single, but before that was officially released, Rule on was Jay-Z’s smash single “Can I Get A” along side Amil to be featured on the rush hour soundtrack. Irv Gotti originally had this beat reserved for Ja, but Jay liked it so much that he needed it as his next single.

Critics continuously compared Ja Rule to DMX and 2pac. This is something that would ignite a minor feud between DMX and Ja. Irv Gotti had great working relationships with both Jay-Z and DMX and they were supposed to form a supergroup with Ja Rule called “Murder Inc.”, but egos got in the way. A couple of songs on Venni, Vetti, Vecci had all three artists on it. The Hard Knock Life Tour started in 1998 while all three artists were hot. Def Iam signed Ja off of the strength of DMX and Jay-Z’s deals. Def Jam allowed Irv Gotti to create a sub label called Murder Inc. He then signed Ja Rule as his first solo artist.

Enter 1999, June 1st to be exact, and the release of the much anticipated debut album from Ja Rule is released. Venni, Vetti, Vecci opens up with “The March”, an intro that hypes up the first song; “We Here Now” witch unloads with lyrical fury . Irv did all the production on the album. “World’s Most Dangerous” and “Let’s Ride” were catchy as hell, thus The Inc. finally had a sound . Wherever they wanted to take it. “Holla Holla” was ahead of its time . “Kill em all” had Jay-Z on the hook. “Nigguz Theme” was about brothers hating on each other. “Suicide freestyle” featured R&Bb singer Case, and had a biblical theme going off top. “Story to tell” was a journey like Slick Rick tale. “Count On Your Niggas” is as tale about loyalty. “It’s Murda” is the quintessential posse cut with Jay-Z and DMX… they ran it no doubt. “E-Dub and Ja” was a bit surprising. You wouldn’t think it would happen, but Erik Sermon and Ja Rule went bar for bar. “Murda 4 Life” featured Roc-A-Fella Records second in line, Memphis Bleek. This track was so strong that it was also featured on Bleek’s freshman album. The heartfelt “Daddy’s Little Baby”, featuring Ron Isley is about his first born daughter. “Race Against Time” would question immortality, while “Only Begotten Son” closes out the LP in true fashion, with its religious theme intact claiming once and for all…Ja came, he saw, he conquered…Venni, Vetti, Vecci.

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Did Eazy-E Create Gangsta Rap?

By: Mic Cool

Eric “Eazy-E” Wright grew up in Compton, California selling drugs, and not too long after that he formed the supergroup NWA aligned with other legends Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Dj Yella. They bursted on the scene with Straight Outta Compton, a hard hitting album and title track describing the environment they came from which depicted police brutality, racism, and other political topics. Circa 1986 E met Jerry Heller, a white business man who believed in him and saw his vision. At the tender age of 22 Eric earned $250,000 dollars from hustling but, after his cousin was shot and killed, he decided to record music in the newly budding L.A. rap scene.

After the success of NWA’s debut, it was obvious Eric was a breakout star. In less than 8 months after the groups mega stardom his debut CD Eazy-Duz-It was out for distribution. The remix of the song “8-Ball” was written by Ice Cube who wrote most of Eazy’s songs in the early NWA days. After Cube left the group in 1989, NWA put out their 2nd LP Niggaz4Life in 1991. At this time E accepted and invitation to a lunch at the White House benefitting George Bush Sr. who was our U.S. president at the time.

Dr. Dre got suspicious of funds within the click then in turn connected with Suge Knight, who got him out of the Ruthless Records contract Dre had with Eazy and Jerry. The emergence of Death Row Records allowed Dre to dis Eazy on records like “ Dre Day” but E would respond on “Real Muthafuckin G’s”, basically claiming his ties to gang banging while exposing Dre for just making beats, not living the life he portrayed in his music, and for The Doc wearing lipstick before he smoked Chronic at picnics.

Eazy was also a big entrapenuer co founding the aforementioned Ruthless Records, a label which spawned Cleveland’s mega group Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony among other acts. In 1995 Eric was admitted to Cedars Sinia Medical Center in L.A. with what he believed to be asthma instead finding out it was the HIV virus AIDS. During the final week of his life he made amends with Ice Cube, Dre and even Snoop Dogg who had come at him in the past. Over 3000 people attended Eazy’s funeral, he was buried in a gold casket dressed in his signature flannel shirt, a Compton hat, and jeans. The Godfather of Gangsta Rap had been finally laid to rest in his 64 Chevy Empala driving straight to heaven.