They don't hold the patent, but Murder Inc. will tell you songs like Nelly and Kelly Rowland's "Dilemma" and Jay-Z and Beyoncé's " '03 Bonnie & Clyde" are stealing the I-N-C's MO of fusing hip-hop and R&B together in a duet.
"That's our formula!" Irv Gotti bellowed in the basement of Right Track recording studios Tuesday. "There are a lot of people messing with it."
Gotti was on hand to oversee Ja Rule in the lab with the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams. Not only is it the fourth quarter in the music industry, when all the labels unload their heavy guns to rake in that holiday money, but it's the fourth quarter in the recording stages of Rule's November 19 release, The Last Temptation (see "Ja Rule Vows To Keep Moving Forward On Last Temptation"). As in, its' time for the Hollis, Queens, MC to wrap up production and ship the project off.
By collaborating with Ashanti, Mary J. Blige and 19 year-old newcomer Alexi, Rule is up to his old tricks, giving the male and female perspectives on love in the same track.
"Your stare, those eyes, I ..." Rule sings on "Mesmerized," which is slated to be the album's second single.
"... Love it when you look at me, baby," Ashanti, the song's co-star, finishes.
The mid-tempo ditty features producer Chink Santana banging away on the drum machine but also providing the usual Inc. synth beats. Rule sings and rhymes about, among other things, how he has a fetish for having sex with his girl while she still has some clothes on. Meanwhile, Ashanti croons about being addicted to his kisses: "Take me tonight and do what you do to me, baby."
Ja takes it to the ladies again on "Murder Me," an anthem for good lovin'. Using the melody from Tony Toni Toné's "Anniversary," Ja's new find Alexi sings, "Baby, when your sexin' me/ I kinda like it when you murder me/ When you murder me," on the hook. The song itself uses the guitar-and-string-powered beat from the R&B group's smash as well.
"You make me wanna leave the one I'm with," Rule tells her.
He samples another R&B classic, R. Kelly's "When a Woman's Fed Up," for "God's Child," on which Rule sings, "These streets done raised me/ And ain't nothing you can do about it." Guest star and "Rainy Dayz" collaborator Mary J. Blige lends a hand on the track.
"I'm standing here looking in the mirror/ Trying to convince myself my life is a little better," Ja spits in a sing-songy flow. "But I know the outcome/ More money more problems/ And that ain't gonna solve them."
Further representing the ladies is Charli Baltimore on the bass-and-horns-infused title track. And Rule lets his male Murder Inc. cohorts get light on the riotous free-for-all "F--- With Us." Ja ends the song with a verse aimed at Earl Simmons, a.k.a. DMX.
"What the f---'s happening, Earl?/ You're mad at the world or just me, because I'm on top on the world/ ... Crack addict, you know the n---a world ain't having it/ ... Now you lost a good n---a, DMX. One love."
The DMX/Ja Rule beef stems from the Dog saying his former friend bit his style. Ja maintains X is jealous of his success. "I feel like I'm ahead of my game right now and people don't wanna see me there," Ja said before playing the reflective "Wanted," on which he uses a down-South bounce flow.
"I'll get even before I die," he says on the song, which discloses his dream of making $100 million. "I'm a survivor like Destiny's children," he proclaims, before going on to lament on the hook: "This world wants me dead or alive."
About an hour after Ja finished previewing his album, nobody could tell Irv Gotti that Pharrell wasn't a killer.
"We got another one. ... He just killed it!" Gotti said to Ja after hearing a track Williams put together from just a few synthesized piano chords, a drum pattern and the Neptunes' patented bass. "I can leave now. All you have to do is make the hit."