Ja Rule began his chart rule in the late '90s, as a rapper/producer who matched a hardcore sensibility with a surefire commercial touch. A Queens native, Rule (real name Jeffrey Bernard Atkins) worked early on with fellow hip-hop giants, cutting his first single, Mic Geronimo's "Time to Build," alongside fellow guests Jay-Z and DMX. His debut album 1999's Venni Vetti Vecci matched the established East Coast rappers for toughness and street smarts, selling platinum and hitting #3 on Billboard's Hot 100. While there were no softer tracks on the debut, the followup Rule 3:36 was a little more pop-friendly, including the first of his duets with female artists (Christina Milian on "Between Me and You", Li'l Mo on "I Cry"). Even the more characteristic "F--k You" turned out to have hit potential, once he reworked it under the title "Furious." He'd make a trademark out of the duets, and continue to mix his albums with hardcore tracks and R&B crossovers. 2001's Love is Pain was his most successful album with two Number One duet hits, "Always on Time" with Ashanti and a remix of "I'm Real" with Jennifer Lopez. He'd be all over the charts for the next two years, in the company of Bobby Brown ("Thug Lovin'"), Fat Joe ("What's Luv?"), Mary J. Blige ("Rainy Dayz") and again with Ashanti ("Mesmerize"). By now Rule was doing so well that somebody was bound to start dissing him-and 50 Cent did, not only dropping various insults at Ja Rule (claiming, for one thing, that he'd stolen Tupac Shakur's act) but getting his allies Eminem, Dr. Dre and Busta Rhymes to do the same. Ja Rule responded with Blood in My Eye, an all-hardcore album despite its lack of crossover tracks went Top 10-as did the followup, R.U.L.E., which brought back the mix of love songs and tougher material. Bigger trouble came in 2011, when he had a fallout with Universal Records and launched his own Mpire Music Group label; the album Pain is Love 2 fell prey to numerous delays and was the first flop of his career, only making it to #197 on the Billboard chart. Worse, he began a two-year prison sentence for gun possession and tax evasion. After his release in May 2013 he kept a relatively low profile, putting much of his energy into a reality TV show, Follow the Rules, that was co-produced by Queen Latifah and aired on MTV. The show was a mixed success at best and though a second season was teased, it never appeared. He also starred in an obscure movie, "I'm in Love With a Church Girl" (2014), that reflected his Christian faith. More successful was a further Ashanti duet, "Helpless," that appeared on The Hamilton Mixtape. The long-delayed followup to Pain is Love 2 was promised in 2015 under the name Genius Loves Company; retitled Coup de Grace, it was delayed to 2017. Rule claimed in interviews that it would be his last album.