For millennials like me, Ja Rule was no doubt one of the most entertaining, hit-making rappers of the early 2000s. For a large chunk of his career, he mastered the recipe of making catchy mainstream singles that some of his rap counterparts could only dream of.
So in celebration of his 40th birthday today (Feb. 29), as well as the announcement of his purported final solo album Coup De Grace, I decided to rank the Queens-bred artist’s best collaborations since his 1999 debut into the music game. While it was a fairly tough list to make (trust me, as a Bronx native it was painful to cut his 2004 “New York” single with Fat Joe and Jadakiss), it just goes to show how timeless—yes, give him his deserved credit, please—Ja Rule’s music truly is.
Kicking off this list is a song that immediately brings me back to fun-filled summer BBQs in the city. Fun fact: “Down 4 U” is actually a remix sequel to Rule’s "Down Ass Bitch" collaboration with Charli Baltimore that was released just two months prior. An underrated Murder INC. charmer, the song has beach vibes written all over it—from Ashanti’s lilting vocals to Vita’s rugged rhymes. Also, the cameos from then-couple Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston in the official video make it all the more historic. Oh, a peak position at No. 6 on the Hot 100 didn’t hurt either.