Ja Rule And Irv Gotti, “Let ‘Em Burn” (Originally Published June 2003)
XXL: Let’s talk about all the hate in the air. Why do you think it seems like everyone has turned against Murder Inc.?
Irv: I think that we’ve been going for four years strong, and the people wanna see someone else do it now. That’s hip-hop. Everyone talks about Ja singing, but yet it’s still [sings Snoop’s hook] “Beautifuuul”—shooting a video in Rio where Ja did. Jay with [singing Jigga’s hook] “Excuse me miss, what’s your name?” And I love the Snoop record, I love Jay’s record. But why is everybody coming down just on Murder Inc. and Ja when the whole game is doing it? Kay Slay, this nigga is the street nigga, right? He drops the album and he got Amerie singing. And I’m not mad at that. I want that very clear, and please in this interview try… You see how I’m coming across? Put it like that, because I’m not mad at any of these niggas.
What’s the message you’re trying to get across with the video for “Murder Reigns?”
That was our last cry for peace. When you look at that video—I kill Ja, all of the shit with the Feds—it’s like we’re a time bomb ticking, and it was our last try to maybe shock people and try to get people to go, “Whoa, we need to stop. Maybe we need to stop before something happens.” It was my last cry for everybody—radio stations, publications, everybody—to try and fall back and put a different spin. Like, “Maybe you guys need to come together.” But it’s almost like they want us to kill each other. It’s almost like they want some violence. It’ll be entertaining to them to see Irv Gotti dead, or Ja Rule or 50 Cent or Eminem. It’s gonna be entertaining to them to watch one of us die.
You can’t blame the media for creating the beef between 50 and Ja.
I think the media helped fuel it. And I think 50 fueled it. Like, I don’t like talking about the 50 shit no more, because it’s like no one’s hearing me. It’s falling on deaf ears, because they want the beef to win so much. They want this problem, so I feel like it’s falling on deaf ears. I hate this drama shit. But you know what? If it is what it is, I’ll deal with it. You understand? But if you ask me if I like it, I hate it. Who the fuck wants to go through this shit? He openly looked at Murder Inc. and said, “They’re doing it, I’m going after them.” In the beginning of this whole 50 and Ja thing, 50 was managed by a good dude, Chaz [a.k.a. Slim], who was a good friend of mine, and a good friend to ’Preme, and a good friend of Ja. This is when 50 began running off at the mouth. We don’t know who this guy is. Slim reaches to dude, “I wanna squash all this shit. I’m with the guy , and I’m trying to do things with him.” And I respect Slim, and Slim gets respect in my crew. So Slim tries to put together a meeting with me, Ja, 50 and a whole bunch of dudes—just to squash the beef early on. We met at Slim’s studio right off of Jamaica Ave. Everyone came to the meeting: me, Ja, ’Preme and everyone is at the meeting. And 50 never showed. But you understand, it was a movement towards peace. Now, I wasn’t in Atlanta, but shortly after that meeting didn’t take place, Ja had a show in Atlanta and I think that’s when he seen 50.
You’ve had two altercations with 50. Let’s start from the beginning.
Ja: A promoter put us on the same bill in Atlanta. He didn’t know. I didn’t know either. I’m outside in Atlanta, I had one of them little Louisville slugger bats—like the little ones—around my neck. So they pull up. We have a mutual friend involved. He says, “Yo, Ja, you know he’s sorry about the record [‘Your Life’s On the Line’]. Will you talk to the nigga?” Aight, I’ll talk to the nigga, fuck it. He’s like, “You know the record’s already out there, I can’t pull the record back.” And being who I am, I’m like, You know what, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t like you, ’cause you think you that nigga. You making “How to Rob,” then you make a record about me. I’m like, I don’t like you, nigga. And I don’t think you’re talented. And I’ll fuckin’ crush you. And however you want to do it is whatever. So he fuckin’ snuffed me—boom. So as soon as he snuffed me, I went back, boom.
I pulled the shirt over his head, dropped the bat and started catchin’ him. My man O picked up the bat and started crackin’ him. He had people with him. Not my fault they didn’t jump in. Our mutual friend breaks it up. 50’s chain popped, my chain popped. Our mutual friends was picking up our jewelry. They going inside, so I pick up the little garbage can—with the little sand top that be in front of the hotels—picked up one of those and chased him inside the hotel and threw the shit as the niggas was going inside the elevator. So now the police don’t know nobody but Ja Rule. ’Cause 50’s nobody now. So when the hotel calls the police, of course they callin’ the police on Ja Rule. So I’m like, alright we need to get the fuck outta here.
So we leave the hotel and we go to another hotel before the police can come. We had the show that night, 50 didn’t come. I went and did the show, he never showed up. We leave, go back the next day to New York. Awhile later, I get a call like, “Yo, he’s in the Hit Factory.” I happened to be in the Hit Factory, recording myself. He’s upstairs. My man was on crutches at the time, you know I took one of his crutches. And I said, I’m gonna go up and see the nigga. Open the door. The room was mad small. I got the crutch in my hand, he’s right there. I said, Yeah nigga. I heard you was talking shit about me, right? So then the nigga—word to mother—look like he seen a fuckin’ ghost. The nigga was like, “Yo, let’s talk.” I was like, Talk? I heard you was talking already… Whap! And kept hitting the nigga with the shit. This is real shit. Like, nigga I ain’t hitting you with no phantom stories. So, boom, I cracks him with the shit. We all into the room, we all start getting busy. He really couldn’t get as hurt as much as we wanted to hurt him, you understand, because he was curled up in the corner by the speakers. So we was throwing speakers on him. I’m in there trying to hit him with the crutch. I’m going wild with the crutch. I’m even hitting some of the niggas I’m with with the muthafuckin’ crutch. So he runs down the block bleeding, leaking, to Made Men and Benzino. They’re right up the block at Sony. He goes and takes refuge with them in there. Now, Benzino’s my man. The nigga Benzino said he put 50 in the car and sent him on his way, sent him to the hospital.
You and 50 haven’t crossed paths since?
We’ve been in the same city, same spot, supposed to be in the same places—have not seen him. Grammy Awards, no 50. Number-one album in the country, hottest album, hottest rapper right now in the country, and you’re not at the Grammy awards? Your man’s performing, takes an award, and you’re not there? You don’t come and take your seat, Em? You never sat down at the awards. You stay in the back the whole fuckin’ time. I wasn’t supposed to do nothing but slap you nigga, you should’ve took your seat. It wasn’t gonna be nothing. You can take a slap. If you would’ve went any further, than I would’ve whooped your ass, nigga. But a slap? You can take a slap. I was waiting. Confrontation, nigga—show your face. Talk about it, be about it. And when I get my fuckin’ hands on 50 again, I’ma wear his ass out. Him, Em, Dre, any one of these niggas, I’m gonna wear they ass out on top of the raps.
But you didn’t have a problem with Eminem until he signed 50 Cent. Weren’t you guys cool?
I’ve met him before. It was always like, “What’s up?” I mean, we played pool together one time. It was a while ago, when his first album was out or whatever. Some social shit, never nothing special. But it’s incredible that this kid wants to involve himself. Let me tell you something, I like Eminem. But fuck him, because he’s riding with this dude over here. And you don’t have to, Em. You’re not a tough dude. You’re not from the hood, you’re not from the streets. So now you think you’re a street dude? You think you can fuckin’ talk street shit ’cause of this clown? This dude 50 is not a street dude. He’s peddled drugs on the streets, but he’s not a street dude. You can tell by his fuckin’ code of ethics. He gets in magazines and screams out gangsters’ names. I blame Eminem for really sparking this whole shit up. The whole divide-and-conquer thing. Why not? Why not let these two fuckin’ niggas kill each other? Why not?
Now you sound like Benzino. Why can’t shit just get squashed? All the shit talking…
Where else does it go? This is what I’m saying. When I first made a statement, before I made a statement. Yo, if you don’t have real serious beef with a person, like you want to physically harm me, then leave it alone. Leave it alone, because this is what it’s gonna lead to. I’m reading the other day in the papers: Jay-Z and Nas are two of the most hated New Yorkers. And do you know why it said they were two of the most hated people in New York? Because they beef didn’t lead to anything. At the end of the article it said, “If it was a publicity stunt, lame. If it was real, even lamer.” So even to the common eye, even to an idiot, the war of words leads to something. What happens when you get into a room together? You don’t think there’s gonna be some type of confrontation?