A Complete Timeline of 50 Cent and Ja Rule’s Beef
50 Cent and Ja Rule's beef is officially old enough to vote. Few hip-hop feuds are as bitter as this rivalry between Queens music legends, which has spanned nearly two decades, powered by savage diss tracks, spiteful interviews that stoked the fires, social media bashing and physical altercations.
Prior to becoming one of hip-hop's biggest success stories with his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 Cent was an up-and-coming rapper looking to make his way in the game. He quickly became known for calling rappers out by name on songs like his infamous 1999 single "How to Rob," which included jabs at heavyweights like JAY-Z, Ma$e, DMX and Big Pun. While 50 Cent was considered a buzzworthy prospect, at the time, he was a relative unknown in comparison to Ja Rule, who's own debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci, was certified platinum off the strength of the lead single "Holla Holla," making him one of New York City's leaders of the new school.
Although the circumstances are murky, somewhere along the line, the two artists bumped heads, resulting in 50 Cent throwing down the gauntlet and waging war with Ja Rule and Murder Inc. as a staff, record label and as a crew. What ensued was one of hip-hop's longest-lasting, most-heated beefs—a conflict that's still simmering to this day.
The latest flare-up took place last week, when 50 Cent said he put Ja "to bed" during an interview on Big Boy’s Neighborhood in Los Angeles. Ja Rule lashed out on Friday (Jan. 19), taking to Twitter to relentlessly badmouth his opponent in a rant that spilled over into the following day.
With the battle between the two artists appearing to be heating back up, XXL looked back on the history of the beef from its onset, compiling the key run-ins, diss tracks, interviews and clashes that have added to this age-old clash.
In 1999, Ja Rule was robbed at gunpoint for his chain in Southside Jamaica, Queens. 50 Cent alleges that Ja Rule witnessing him hanging in the club with the culprit weeks after the incident sparked the bad blood between them. However, Ja, who would later confirm the robbery, denies that he ever witnessed Fif with the man in question. He says that 50's ire stems from being snubbed by the Murder Inc. camp during a shoot for his single, "Murda 4 Life."
In October 1999, 50 Cent released "Life's on the Line," a single from his shelved debut studio album Power of the Dollar and a blatant diss record directed towards Ja Rule and Murder Inc. While the record doesn't name Ja Rule directly, 50's mockery of his label's signature "Murda" chant throughout the song was enough to give fans a clue of the intended targets. "Life's on the Line" would be a minor street hit, peaking at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart, but was ultimately a blip on the radar in comparison to Ja Rule's debut album Venni Vetti Vecci, which would sell more than one million units and establish Ja as one of rap's brightest young stars.
Following the release of "Life's on the Line," 50 Cent and Ja Rule bumped heads while at an Atlanta nightclub at which the two were booked to perform. They got into a heated argument that turned into a physical altercation, during which the two rappers' necklaces popped. A member of 50's crew recovered Ja's pendant. According to Fif, a deal was brokered for Ja Rule to receive his pendant back in exchange for a Movado watch, a claim that Ja Rule vehemently denies. The incident escalated the beef between the two artists and was a catalyst for the chain of events to come.
The G-Unit and Murder Inc. crews crossed paths once again in March 2000 at the Hit Factory studios in New York City. After getting word that 50 Cent was there recording, Ja and his crew paid the rapper a visit, leading to an altercation during which Fif suffered a stab wound and led to the arrest of Ja Rule and Murder Inc. rapper Black Child, who has taken credit for the stabbing on record. Still, 50 would later downplay the attack in interviews.
50 Cent and G-Unit released No Mercy, No Fear—Fif's first mixtape after inking a million-dollar deal with Shady/Aftermath Records—in August 2002. One of the more popular songs from the tape was "Wanksta," a track 50 Cent credited as being inspired by Ja Rule. It became Fif's first hit single, peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and beginning to level the playing field between him and his Murder Inc. counterpart.
In November 2002, Irv Gotti alleged that 50 Cent had signed an order of protection against him and Ja Rule in the aftermath of the brawl at the Hit Factory. Gotti, who made the claims during a visit to The Star & Buc Wild Morning Show, revealed the information to put 50's street credibility in question and paint him as an informant. Yet Fif denied the allegations, which did little to temper his buzz. While the validity of the order of protection was initially questioned, it has since been confirmed that it does exist but was issued on 50's behalf as a formality by the NYPD.
Following Irv Gotti claims of 50 Cent being a snitch and signing an order of protection against him and Ja Rule, the G-Unit general returned fire quickly on the mixtape G-Unit - The Future Is Now, which contained multiple attacks on Murder Inc (including a series of hilarious skits that satirized Ja's singing). One track in particular, the Sam Sneed-produced "I Smell Pussy," was especially scathing, with 50 calling out Ja Rule, Irv Gott, Black Child and Cadillac Tah by name on yet another verbal assault against his rivals.
On January 16, 2003, an unknown gunman opened fire in the offices of Violator Records and Violator Management, which handled the career of 50 Cent at the time. Although no employees or artists were injured in the shooting and no arrests were made, early reports tied the incident to the beef between Fif and Ja Rule and was the latest indication that the issues between the two had escalated to a point of no return.
50 Cent dropped his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' on Feb. 6, 2003, taking the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 and earning nearly universal acclaim. One of the most anticipated tracks was the Dr. Dre-produced "Back Down," which takes Ja Rule and Murder Inc. to task, questioning their authenticity and street credibility throughout. Despite not being released as a single, "Back Down" was one of the most popular tacks on the classic album—it applied even more pressure on Ja Rule and Murder Inc.
After remaining relatively silent in the face of 50 Cent's smear campaign, Ja Rule returned fire in April 2003 with the diss track "Loose Change," taking aim at 50 Cent and G-Unit, as well as Eminem, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes and Chris Lighty. He even threw a shot at Em's daughter, Hailie, showing that he had no intention of throwing in the towel and was willing to go toe-to-toe with his adversary.
One week after Ja Rule's "Loose Change" diss, 50 Cent, Eminem and Busta Rhymes' response "Hail Mary" dropped via DJ Kay Slay. The incendiary retort poked fun at the Murder Inc. rapper's infatuation with Tupac Shakur by revamping one of the slain rapper's biggest songs. The trio went all out in an attempt to assassinate Rule's character in one of the more memorable diss tracks from its era.
Continuing where he left off on "Loose Change," Ja Rule unleashed another verbal assault on 50 Cent and G-Unit with the oft-forgotten "Guess Who Shot Ya," which finds the chart-topping rapper throwing jabs at his competition with a nimble flow over a classic Biggie instrumental.
Ja Rule's fifth studio album Blood in My Eye dropped in November 2003 and it plays like a 50 Cent dedication. Much of the album's content focused on the conflict with 50 Cent and G-Unit, led by the modestly successful single "Clap Back." It was a stark contrast to Ja's more melodic material—especially the more aggressive records like the title track and "Things Gon' Change"—yet the album was critically-panned and fell short of the success of previous multi-platinum releases Rule 3:36, Pain Is Love and The Last Temptation. It was Ja Rule's first quantifiable L in the battle.
In 2007, Ja Rule stopped by Hot 97 for an interview on the Angie Martinez Show. During the conversation, the topic turned to his long-standing beef with 50 Cent. Ja touched on the similarity in his music and 50's after Fif signed his deal with Shady/Aftermath and the double-standard in the realm of public perception.
In 2011, Ja Rule plead guilty to federal tax evasion, a charge that would cause him to serve two years in prison. 50 Cent found it a perfect opportunity to poke fun at his arch-nemesis on Twitter. Ja didn't find Fif's comments humorous at all, so he quickly fired back with posts disparaging the G-Unit boss, who continued to go on the offense, deeming Ja Rule irrelevant and making light of his impending prison sentence.
Later, Ja declared that he would not engage in social media beef with 50 and that their beef was over in his eyes. Or so he thought...
In September 2013, Ja Rule and Irv Gotti stopped by Hot 97 for an interview with Angie Martinez about their recent endeavors and future plans. When the conversation turned to the feud between Murder Inc. and G-Unit, Ja Rule admitted that he felt that he and Murder Inc. lost the war, for a myriad of reasons, including the federal investigation into the label.
In November 2013, Ja Rule and 50 Cent crossed paths for the first time in years while the two were taking a flight. Ja Rule, who shared the experience with his fans on social media, noted that there were no issues between the two and no altercations while chiding fans for egging on the bitter feud between the two.
50 Cent was one of the headliners of Hot 97's annual Summer Jam concert in 2014 and took the opportunity to mock Murder Inc. once again, performing the diss track "I Smell Pussy" during his set. But he was somewhat carrying on tradition: 50 had previously put Ja on the Summer Jam screen in 2003, and offered him a "Grannie Award" for "wackest rapper" in 2004 (Joe Budden and Black Child were also recipients of the made-up honor).
After Ja Rule got wind of the 2014 performance, he hopped on social media to speak his piece, deeming his longtime rival as obsessed and thanking Fif for the free publicity.
In July 2014, Ja Rule released the memoir Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man, which chronicled his rise to the fame and the peaks and valleys of his career and personal life. In one passage, Ja Rule claims that 50 Cent's information helped lead to the federal investigation into Murder Inc. and their ties to Kenneth 'Supreme' McGriff, a charge which 50 Cent had denied in the past.
When Drake and Meek Mill were engulfed in a war of words during an epic battle that kicked off summer 2015, some fans compared the spat to that of 50 Cent and Ja Rule. Both rappers chimed in with their thoughts on social media, seemingly agreeing (for once!) that the two beefs are incomparable. That didn't stop 50 from taking a shot at Ja via Instagram.
No one could've predicted that Ja Rule would let his Twitter fingers get to click-clacking at 50 Cent on Jan. 19, 2018, but his shots were heard near and far. His ire apparently stemmed from an interview that 50 Cent and his Den of Thieves co-star O'Shea Jackson Jr. did that same week. In the interview, 50 poked fun at Ja Rule and joked about the effect that their battle had on his popularity. After getting wind of the comments, Ja shared a few views of his own. When will it end?