With the news that Irv Gotti is relaunching his iconic early 2000s label Murder Inc., we were immediately prompted to revisit its extensive back catalogue. A few things soon became clear - the imprint’s best tracks were most often a family affair, with staples Ja Rule and Ashanti frequently collaborating with other Murder Inc. artists, emerging pop stars, and of course, each other.
Truly, what was a hip hop song without the whisper of “Murder Inc.” in its introduction? Let’s take things back to a simpler era - the first time Juicy tracksuits were cool, before read receipts on smartphones ruined relationships, and when a music video wasn’t truly a music video unless it was a melodramatic mini-epic.
Ja Rule ft. Case --- "Livin It Up"
Ja and Irv Gotti himself open the video, wearing velour tracksuits and counting stacks as Ja laments the rap game. This is definitely peak Ja Rule - peep his fresh to death white durag and bathrobe ensemble.
Lloyd ft. Ashanti --- "Southside"
Another Gotti cameo has the Murder Inc. head honcho discussing young Lloyd’s older love interest - Ashanti, of course. Lloyd wails into a flip phone and later takes Ashanti on a hot date in Gotti’s sweet ride.
J. Lo & Ja Rule --- "I’m Real"
Has a street basketball game ever looked so appealing? We think not. If you’re not wearing a Juicy tracksuit or a half-off, half-on T-shirt, what are you even doing on the court?
Ja Rule ft. Christina Millian --- "Between Me And You"
Although she’s neither Ashanti nor J. Lo, Christina Millian was still a formidable Ja Rule duet partner. Bikinis, Miami beach, weird food fetish action, hot tub Ja, what more could you ask for, really?
Ja Rule ft. Lil’ Mo and Vita --- "Put it On Me"
Ja gets locked up for some sort of shady activity and Lil’ Mo graciously keeps his chain warm while he’s behind bars. Never forget that this classic cut bestowed upon us the Murder Inc. proverb “Every thug needs a lady.”
Ja Rule ft. Charli Baltimore --- "Down Ass Chick"
A pink-haired Charli Baltimore and Ja Rule lace up their Timberlands and team up for a Bonnie and Clyde-style heist, get caught, and finally escape to the sea on a private jet.
Ja Rule ft. Ashanti, Vita & Charli Baltimore --- "Down 4 U"
Another beachside extravaganza, the sequel to “Down Ass Chick” features a yacht and a stacked roster of four Murder Inc. affiliates and another Gotti cameo.
Ja Rule ft. Bobby Brown –-- “Thug Lovin'”
Ja Rule and Bobby Brown’s helicopter descends onto a Murder Inc. branded landing pad atop a skyscraper, and naturally it’s a party.
Ja Rule ft. Ashanti –-- “Mesmerize”
The dynamic duo bring influences from the classic musical Grease to a 2002 context at a fair. Ashanti wears a lace up leather catsuit and tries smoking a cigarette in an attempt to be “more street” and Ja wears a cardigan to try to smarten up his look. “If you ridin’, I’m ridin’,” proclaims Ashanti as they both join Irv Gotti’s neo Black Panther Murder Inc. protest movement.
Ja Rule, Nas, Ashanti & 2Pac –-- “The Pledge”
Sampling 2Pac’s “So Many Tears,” Ja Rule, Nas, and Ashanti step up to the Murder Inc. podium and spit verses. What are those bizarre, out-of-place film scenes you may ask? Why those are from the 2002 film Half Past Dead, which features “The Pledge” on the soundtrack, starring none other than Ja Rule, of course.
For more important moments in hip-hop history, check out our list of the 10 worst rapper tattoos right here.