The Terror Squad boss visited Stephen A. Smith’s Know Mercy podcast, where he spoke about Ja Rule reeling from his vicious beef with 50 and needed something to get back on his feet. At the time, Joey Crack was dealing with grief following Big Pun’s untimely passing, and a meet-up with Murder Inc. founder Irv Gotti changed everything.
“So Big Pun had just passed. I’m going through depression. Friends are defecting. People don’t believe me,” he said. “I meet Irv Gotti by chance…we both booked the same studio. That’s God. And so we telling jokes ’til like seven in the morning. We never knew each other. Pun dies.”
He continued: “Maybe like three months later, I get a phone call in the middle of the night. You still got [a] house phone and it’s, ‘Joe, it’s Irv Gotti, it’s Ja Rule.’ And they’re like, ‘Come to The Hit Factory.’ So I go down there with my wife, and they press play and it’s [Fat Joe singing ‘What’s Luv?’] ‘What’s love got to do got to do.’
“These guys are like Drake is now, at that time. Nothing but hits. They gave me a hit that changed my life. So I’m loyal. Whether we win or lose, I gotta stand by you.”
Fat Joe explained that the chance link-up led to him giving Ja Rule “New York” and “Wonderful” at the time 50 Cent and G-Unit were burying Murder Inc. As the story goes, Joe went to a Boston Celtics game with Irv’s brother, Chris Gotti, and on their way to the arena, the older Gotti played a version of “Wonderful” with Ja Rule singing the hook.
According to Fat Joe, he found the record to be “phenomenal,” but felt the Hip Hop community had already turned their back on Ja and sided with 50. The record might not have taken off, but an R. Kelly feature would do the job, given how big of an artist he was then, and Joe was willing to get it done as a favor for “What’s Luv?”
“I take the record, fly into Chicago, out of loyalty for them who saved me, and I convince R. Kelly to do the song,” Joe continued. “He didn’t want to do the song. He was like, ‘Yo, they got beef.’ I was like ‘Yo, you gotta do it. This is my brother.'”
He added: “So things like that, 50 Cent’s hearing this, and he’s like, ‘Oh no, we gotta get the fat boy, we gotta knock him down…’ ‘Cause it is almost like what we doing, no disrespect to Ukraine, the United States just keep giving them missiles and he’s like, ‘Oh no, this guy’s feeding, so I need beef with him.'”
“Wonderful” was the lead single from Ja Rule’s 2004 album R.U.L.E. and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Murder Inc. was losing the war against G-Unit while also dealing with the FBI raiding their New York City offices after being accused of laundering money for former drug kingpin Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff.
After the success of “Wonderful,” Ja Rule struck gold again with “New York” featuring Fat Joe and Jadakiss, which peaked at No. 10 and No. 27 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs and Hot 100 charts, respectively.
The song and official music video struck a chord with 50 Cent and had him drag Jadakiss and Fat Joe into his beef with Ja, dissing them on The Massacre track “Piggy Bank.”
Revisit Ja Rule, R. Kelly and Ashanti’s “Wonderful” below.