What makes a man stronger after prison than before when he went in? For Ja Rule, it’s a firm belief in second chances, a greater political cause and a whole lotta career plans. This Spring, the man born Jeffrey Atkins was released after serving two years for gun possession and tax evasion. But he's back with new tunes, a new book, a TV show idea and, most notably, a starring role in “I’m in Love With a Church Girl.”
Do you see parallels between your character and yourself?
There are a lot of similarities about me and [him]. We went through some of the same obstacles: prison, dealing with trying to be a better man, trying to do something positive with your life. But you still have that dark side of your life pulling you back. Those parallels are very similar.
What dark sides pulled you back?
The streets. Friends that are still doing street things. A lot of those situations put a black eye on what I was doing as far as my music and my films, because we had the federal investigations, I had the gun charge, the prison time — all those things were things that never should have happened. But, you know, such is life.
Why is it an important story to tell?
I think any story about redemption and second chances is a great story to tell becauseas people we all go through dark patches in our lives, things that we sometimes look at and maybe don’t feel that there is going to be a brighter day. It’s inspiring for people to see [the movie] because they look and it and say, “Well, damn, if he went through all of that and made it through, I can do it too.” I know when I was locked up in prison the one story that would stick to my ribs was Nelson Mandela. His prison made my prison look like a five-star hotel.
You have been talking a lot about the gun law and having guns in general. Where do you think the line should be drawn?
There’s a very thin line because, in one breath I want to say there should be harsher gun laws, there should be stronger gun laws. But then in the next breath I want to say we should be conscious about who we are attacking with these gun laws. You know, I’m not saying that I didn’t do something wrong, that I didn’t commit a crime, because I did and I did my time for that. But I think that my time could have been used in a better way than to lock me up for two years. I don’t think there is nobody on the streets that said, “Oh, wow, you locked up Ja Rule for holding a gun, maybe I shouldn’t hold my gun.” What would have maybe been a better thing is for me to go out and speak to kids about gun violence, and gang violence and gun control.
How would you liken your life story to young people — and even your kids?
I just want them to know that people make mistakes but you can get through and past them. It’s not the end of the world. You can better yourself after going through these things in life. It’s never the end. That if you keep fighting, keep working towards a better place, a better space in life, it will happen.
You have been through a very dark time and people have been quite harsh to you. What makes you go back? Why do you want to stay in this business?
Because I love what I do. I love making music. And no matter what you go through in life, never let nobody take your glory or take your shine from you. Always do what’s in your heart. Do what you feel like doing. And this is what I want to do. This is what I feel like doing so I wouldn’t let nobody stop me from doing that.
What are your future plans, career-wise?
New music. I just put out some records last week, available on iTunes right now, go get’em! New television show coming. We don’t have a title for it yet, but it’s a reality show with my family. It’s like the new "Run’s House" kinda. It’s a good family orientated show, real fun. Check it out! And I got my new book coming as well. So that’s what I’m up to at this moment.