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808’s & Ja Rule’s Big Break

Okay, so the numbers are in and Kanye West’s Auto-Tuned gem, 808’s & Heartbreak sits atop the Billboard charts with an impressive 451,395 units sold. Yeah, it’s a drop from last year’s first week numbers for Graduation (956,936), but a big showing nonetheless—especially for an album that main people dismissed because their favorite producer-ternt-rapper had ternt sanga.

If you read “I Heart Kanye West (A Preview of Sorts)” a few weeks back about my take on the leaked tracks off Mr. West’s R&B-themed disc, you’ll know that I’m a fan of the new music. Say what you will about the Auto-Tune or Ye’s limited vocal ability, you can’t front on the production and the raw emotion. But haters hate instead of congratulate. There is one person, though, I feel has every right to be mad right now and that’s Ja Rule.

Mr. Atkins made his name, fame and change off of being a rappa-ternt-sanga until some kid named Curtis came through and told y’all that Ja and his singing wasn’t cool anymore. Oddly enough, this same individual went on to express his own penchant for harmonizing on record and the public drank it up like free pitchers of Vitamin Water. Try as he may, Ja Rule couldn’t stop his reign on the top from getting cut short like Leprechauns and he pretty much hasn’t been heard from since. Okay, that’s a lie, he dropped Blood in My Eye in 2003 and R.U.L.E. in 2004. Despite both discs selling a combined total of 1,127,218 copies to date, the public perception has pretty much been that Ja was played out.

But with the Auto-Tune craze in full effect and Kanye proving a hip-hop album with no actual rapping from the headliner can sell (didn’t Andre 3000 prove that as well with The Love Below?), maybe it’s time for Ja to finally release his long delayed LP, The Mirror. I’ve always said the only way he’ll ever have a shot at a real comeback is by staying away from the beef and just go back to making hits. Since singing is cool again, maybe Ja Rule can be too. So grab an Auto-Tune (or not) and sing your little heart out, Jeffrey. If it’s dope the people will listen (but given today’s market, buying your music is a whole other thing). Now if it’s wack, at least you gave it your best shot. But if you wait any longer you can just stick to singing in your shower and let Kanye and everybody else swagger jack your style to death. –NWSO

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