Today, Feb. 29, is the 42nd birthday of New York rapper Ja Rule.

Jeffery Atkins was born and raised in Hollis, Queens. Because of the leap year (an extra day added to the end of February every four years) and the fact that Ja Rule was raised as a Jehovah's witness, lil Rule actually didn't celebrate his birthday until he was 11 years old. Ja started rapping as a teenager, first as a part of a crew called Cash Money Click and then on his own. In 1998, he signed to Irv Gotti's Def Jam imprint, Murder Inc. Records where he worked with the likes of future legends Jay Z, DMX and more. After gaining a buzz with his feature on Jay Z's "Can I Get A..." by 1999, the gravelly voiced MC dropped his debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci, which debuted at No. 3 on Billboard charts. As rap moved into the new millennium, Ja continued to dominate the charts with his albums, especially 2001's Pain Is Love, which featured some of his biggest hits to date; "Livin It Up" featuring Case and "Always on Time" featuring Ashanti.

Amid the album sales, TRL videos and Billboard numbers, Ja had to deal with his fair share of conflict in hip-hop over the years. Starting in 1999, Ja and fellow Queens rapper 50 Cent engaged in a rap beef that went on for years. Ja Rule claims that the beef stemmed from a video shoot in Queens because Fif was jealous he was "getting so much love" from the neighborhood. The beef went on for years and was only confirmed to be "officially over" by both guys in 2011. Recently, the beef has been given new life, kicked off by a radio interview in which Fif said "I'd put him to bed" when asked if he and Ja were on good terms.

Today, with seven studio albums under his belt, Ja still travels to perform his greatest hits from the early '00s.

Happy Birthday Ja Rule!

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