Ja Rule


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After numerous delays, the sequel to Ja Rule's 2001 break-out album finally arrived in 2012, just as the man behind it began serving a 28-month prison sentence for tax evasion. PIL2, which was titled Pain Is Love, Vol. 2 until the last second, winds up an ambitious, conceptual effort where fame is a bitter pill and leads to massive downfalls, like prison. These stories are told with Rule's DMX-like growl and some surprisingly bright production, where lines like "we make love like porn stars" ("Superstar") sound more Kardashian than Dirty Debutantes. VIP room regulars have never had a better strip club anthem than the slow and sultry "Black Vodka," but after popping bottles all night, the plaintive plea "Drown" is a jarring left turn that feels like misplaced sober talk, even with great lines like "Please help me/I tested positive for being a sh*t." Strange to gravitate toward the party and crossover numbers on an album that aims to be honest over all else, but with a little effort from the listener, PIL2 can be rearranged into something much more sensible, maximizing the impact of the dark numbers. Of course, anyone who's had a regretful relative, friend, or associate hauled away by the cops knows that unfinished feeling, and that PIL2 is much more than Ja Rule rushing to state his case before the doors slam is way above admirable. It's enough for fans to ignore the flaws of PIL2, and enough to keep them faithful during the coming drought.

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