Ja Rule Nearly Extended His R.U.L.E.

He recorded so many songs, his new disc was almost a double.

NEW YORK — It used to be that however many songs Ja Rule would record for a project, he would put them on his album and that would be that. But for R.U.L.E., he gave himself some breathing room.

"I did 25 to 30 joints and picked which ones I wanted for the album. " he said Wednesday at Crack House studios in Manhattan. "I never did that before. I picked the heat of the heat. I was going to make a double album — it could have been a double. We already put out three or four songs."

One song, called "Wonderful" and featuring Ashanti and R. Kelly, was geared toward radio, but the track that's making the most noise — in his Big Apple hometown, anyways — is a cut called "New York" that was made for the streets.

"I never really had the big street record like that," he said. "This [album] I have big street records."

For "New York," Ja collaborated with Fat Joe and Jadakiss, but as with so many posse cuts or duets these days, neither of the artists was in the studio with Ja.

"It was basically send it to them and record the reels," he explained. "But the energy and the vibe when it came together, we had it. The first day I got a copy of it, [Jadakiss' A&R rep] Icepick bought a copy of it for me in front of Def Jam's offices. I got in my car right there, put it in, turned it up and bumped it. It was poppin' right there. N---as was walking by like, 'That's hard, Rule! That's hard!' I knew that one was going to be a problem immediately."

Ja, Fat Joe and Jadakiss plan to shoot a video for the song at the end of the month. Ja, Kelly and Ashanti have already shot a clip for "Wonderful," which debuted this week. Working with Kelly again was a no-brainer for Ja. Not only does the tandem have chemistry, but they've become friends. They both know what it's like when people abandon ship in times of need.

"It was easy for n---as to turn their back on him," Ja said of Kelly. "I ain't never one to judge nobody. I rolled with [him] through his problems, he roll with me through mine. That's love. It is what it is.

"R. is ill, yo," he added about the three records they've done together over the past two years (Ja appeared on Chocolate Factory's "Been Around the World," and Kelly also appears on R.U.L.E.'s "I Wonder."). " 'I Wonder,' we just completely put it together. I sent him a version of it, he sent me back a version of it. It was the same but different. He spiced it up a little. I spiced it up, put a little bit more on. It's just ill the way we vibe without being in the same room. But great artists can do that."

In addition to Kelly and Ashanti, Ciara and fellow Incsters Lloyd, Blackchild and Caddillac Tah appear on the album, as does Trick Daddy on a record called "Life Goes On." R.U.L.E. is due November 9.