Ja Rule's disappearing act in the middle of the last decade was one of the most decisive in recent memory; the New York rapper went from a Top 40 fixture with a burgeoning crossover career to a cultural footnote. Since then, he's been hampered by legal troubles and is finally, mercifully, making a comeback. So as we stand on the precipice of a new era in Ja Rule's America, it's helpful to look back at the mechanics of his exit from the public eye. With Furious 7 currently out in theaters, Grantland spoke to Academy Award-winning director John Singleton, who directed the franchise's second installment, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Singleton revealed that Ja, who had a small role in the first film, was in talks with Universal to have an expanded role in the rest of the series. However, it was not to be.

“Ja got too big for himself," Singleton recalled. "He turned it down. He turned down a half a million dollars." The director revealed that the rapper was paid $15,000 for his small role in The Fast & The Furious, when he was already a major star. But then, the success went to his head: "He wouldn’t return calls. I went to the studio to go see him—that’s just my mantra, I deal with a lot of music people. He was kinda playing me to the side and I was like, ‘What?'" From there, Singleton made the choice to call Ludacris, with whom he had never before worked. The rest, as they say, is history.