This Week in Hip-Hop/R&B History: Ja Rule Releases Debut Album, Venni Vetti Vecci

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— The release of Ja Rule’s debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci, marked the beginning of Ja Rule and Murder Inc.’s brief reign over New York Hip-Hop.

On June 1, 1999 Ja Rule’s debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci, was something of a prophecy. With a title that alludes to the Latin phrase, “veni, vidi, vici” meaning “I came, I saw, I conquered”, Ja Rule foretold what he would do to the Hip-Hop scene in the late 90s and early 2000s—quite accurately I might add.

Following a failed deal with TVT Records, producer and A&R Irv Gotti convinced Ja Rule to sign a deal with his newly founded Def Jam imprint, Murder Inc. Records. Ja Rule subsequently appeared on songs with other rising stars like Jay Z, DMX, LL Cool J, Method Man, and Redman in order to promote his new label and budding career. After receiving a multitude of positive reviews, Ja Rule was presented with the opportunity to release an album through Murder Inc. and he didn’t disappoint.

While Ja Rule has never particularly been viewed as an exceptional writer, his gravelly voice and half-sung melodies gave him a unique edge in regards to his delivery. That rugged sound partnered with ballad-like crooning helped to bring more authenticity to his lyrical content, which often focused on his nihilistic view of the world—more particularly the streets of New York. So much so, in fact, you could almost feel Ja Rule’s pain radiating from your speakers. You’ll notice this on tracks like, “World’s Most Dangerous” and “Nigguz Theme”. However, on the songs “Daddy’s Little Baby and “Only Begotten Son”, Ja Rule steered away from the street themes that were more characteristic of Hip-Hop at the time and got a bit more personal as he tackled the subjects of parenthood and abandonment.

The team of contributors associated with Venni Vetti Vecci was also stacked. With Irv Gotti as the executive producer, the album’s production was highly adored. So much so, in fact, many critics went as far as to say that Ja Rule’s appeal could be minimized to his unique vocal style and the instrumentation that backs him. Needless to say, production from Irv Gotti, along with Tyrone Fyffe, Erick Sermon, Lil Rob, and others played an important role in Ja Rule’s debut album. Features from Jay Z, DMX, Memphis Bleek, Ronald Isley, Black Child, Nemesis, Case, Caddillac Tah, and Erick Sermon were just icing on the cake.

Venni Vetti Vici also performed well commercially. While debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200, 184,000 copies of the album were sold in its first week. Just over a month later, Venni Vetti Vecci was certified platinum. By 2002, it had sold 2 million copies worldwide. This was achieved with the help of the leading single, “Holla Holla”, as well as singles, “Kill ‘Em All”, “Daddy’s Little Baby”, “It’s Murda”, and “Murda 4 Life”.

Check out the full album and music videos and let us know what you think? Should Venni Vetti Vecci go down as a Hip-Hop classic?

Written by Simo Haier