Ja Rule Had All The Aces
There was a time in the early 2000’s that a man named Jeffrey Edward Atkins—better known as American rapper and record producer Ja Rule—was at the top of the international music scene.
With his trademark raspy baritone, clever wordplay, and successful collaboration with industry heavy-hitters, the rapper from Queens, New York collected numerous chart-topping records and multiple awards, including four Grammy nominations. However, the higher he got up the mountain of fame and fortune, the more troubles and tribulations Atkins faced. After the catastrophic failure of the Fyre Festival this year, we examine how one man who had all the aces let it slip, and how poker may redeem him.
As the hip-hop landscape is one that’s peppered with tension and competition, Atkins was no stranger to starting feuds with fellow hip-hop artists. Among his many disputes, AG TV reported that a well-publicized dispute between with rapper 50-Cent resulted in not only heated exchanges via songs intended to disrespect one other, but also spawned violent physical altercations among members of their rival record labels. Attracting negative attention from all almost fronts led to a series of bad decisions, and Atkins found himself worrying more about his legal troubles than advancing his music career.
In July 2011, CNN revealed that Atkins faced charges on attempted criminal possession of a weapon and was later sent to prison after turning himself in. Matters would turn worse for the rapper as his time behind bars was extended. The Boom Box notes that Atkins, while incarcerated, would receive a prison extension of 28 months due to tax evasion from up to $3 million dollar earnings he had amassed between 2004 and 2006.
After serving his time, Atkins wasn’t interested in jumping right back into the fold, musically-speaking, and a visit to Las Vegas would ignite a new passion. Can’t Stop Hip-Hop states that Atkins found a poker mentor in legend Phil Ivey as the two hit it off within months of the rapper’s release. As Texas Hold’em is known to be Ivey’s choice among poker gaming styles, Atkins would study the same classification.
In the same way that hip-hop music has evolved for Atkins since he first hit the big time in 1993, so to has the poker scene. As the Internet has both disrupted norms and dictated new trends, Forbes notes that the prominence of online gaming has changed the gaming landscape. Strong competition between entertainment outlets has led to classic games, like poker, being recreated on the web with an added twist. Slingo Casino through their online poker game Ace and Faces Power is proof of how one of the world’s most popular card game is constantly getting an upgrade to appeal to the growing demand of online consumers.
Interestingly, similar to how poker has seen progression in terms of gameplay, Atkins managed to become a more credible competitive poker player. As he learned more about games tactics and technique from Ivey, the mentor-and-apprentice duo would be regular fixtures at lesser-known professional poker tournaments. But just as poker seems to have lent Atkins a budding career in another exciting industry, the rapper would again manage to find himself in trouble once again.
In July 2017, Atkins faced a string of lawsuits for the failed Fyre festival in Bahamas. While Atkins hasn’t been arrested, CBC underlines that his business partner and music promoter Billy McFarland faces a possible prison sentence of 20 years. As it seems life has repeatedly dealt Atkins with a bad hand, let’s just hope he finds his way into more fortunate situations, perhaps back at a table on the poker tournament circuit.