By Hillary Crosley, with reporting by Rahman Dukes
In 2009, MTV News spoke to the Murder Inc MC during a rally, somewhat ironically now, against gun violence where he joined forces with T.I., Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network following the tragic fatal shooting of 17-year-old Corey Squire.
"I think it's important for a voice like myself or a T.I. who actually have gun issues to be the ones to speak out guns and putting the guns down and gang violence," Ja Rule said. "I think we're the perfect voices to be talking about this, not to say that other voices aren't. Kids relate a little more when they know you've already been done that road and you know what they're going through and you can relate to them."
Ja Rule pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a class D felony in the second degree and was sentenced to two years in jail. The charges stem from a gun bust in July 2007, when both Ja and Lil Wayne were arrested separately following a concert performance. Similarly, T.I. reported to a federal prison in Arkansas on November 1 for violating his parole, stemming from gun charges for which he'd already served one year away.
"We've been through a lot and me and Tip, and I think he can attest to this, you grow a lot," Ja Rule said sincerely. "As you start to grow up, you start to learn what life is really about, the damages you could be doing yourself and your community by speaking. I think sometimes we don't remember how strong our voices are.
"A young man asked me, 'Do I think hip-hop can help these communities? Do I think hip-hop can help get these kids to put the guns down?' " Ja Rule continued. "I answered him in a way that I felt really comfortable saying it, because I do feel that hip-hop has been part of the problem so now it's time for us to be part of the solution."
To that end, the MC began a philanthropic organization to give back to his own community almost a decade ago.
"L.I.F.E. Camp is started out in South Jamaica, Queens, where I'm from, and we're basically a forum for kids to come to when they don't got nowhere else to go," Ja Rule explained. "Maybe their parents are on drugs or they dropped out of school, we take them in my life camp and try to give them a better life, a head start."
Rule said that with the help of his team, he's excited about the project's progress.
"It's been a long eight years of work but we've been getting it done," Ja Rule said. "Erica Ford, she's my liason in this all, she really really fights hard for these kids. She's very dedicated to this. With a lot of hard work and a lot of voices like myself, Kevin Liles, Reverend Al Sharpton and T.I. and us coming out, I think we can make a difference in the community and I think we are. I don't think what we're doing is in vain."
Do you agree with Ja Rule when he says that people who've been convicted of gun possession are better representative of what not to do with guns? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!