Fat Joe and Ja Rule took the stage of the theater in Madison Square Garden and competed against each other in the latest edition of VERZUZ. It was a solid New York affair, with several guests, a pause, and a lot of talk. Check out the full playlist of the tracks they’ve played below on TIDAL.
From the start, the two MCs exchanged barbs between songs, even though the friends and co-workers didn’t have any real beef between them. Joe teased Ja about its current relevance (“Where have you been the last ten years?”), While Ja posed as if his brief appearance in the spotlight still dwarfed Joe’s decades of track record.
Fat Joe’s strength in combat was clearly in his high profile collaboration – he brought out Remy Ma (“All The Way Up”), Dre (from Cool & Dre) and Nelly, who inexplicably played “Hot In Here”. Joe’s boast extended to the artists he hired (DJ Khaled, Big Pun) and how rich they are. And while Ja apparently struggles with Joe’s tangential connections to songs like “Still Not a Player” (yes: “That’s not your record!” Joe: “I was the executive producer” yes: “That doesn’t count!”) He seemed to have no problems with the frequent use of the N-word by the white Latino MC. When Joe annoyed Ja for singing more than rapping, Ja was happy to be recognized that he was ahead of his time (“I’m the singing rapper! I started this shit! You are embodied by a singing rapper!”). Joe frequently referred to Ja Rule’s disastrous Fyre Festival, making fun of the “baloney sandwiches” from infamous reports on the festival’s catering.
The comment area was as lively as the garden crowd, with performances by Diddy, Khaled, and many more. There were rumors of a 50 Cent gig – 50 and Ja have a long and documented beef – but it never happened. Irv Gotti, co-founder of Murder Inc, felt compelled to respond to the ghost of the queens rapper and said, “You are all talking about this 50 shit. It’s all OK. He was beaten up, stabbed to death. Shot up. And sued us. That’s all i’m gonna say Your hero is not what you think. Period. And facts. “
Every artist had chart top hits to hang their hats on, though they tended to feature high profile staff who would have been hard to argue with. Yes, did his huge J Lo collab “I’m Real” without her and Joe played the strip club anthem “Make it Rain” without Lil Wayne. But the women who were there – Remy Ma, Lil Mo, Vita, and Ashanti – were lively and kept the show from sinking under the weight of their two massive male egos. Ashanti caused a sensation when he was a guest on both Ja Rules “Mesmerized” and the Ja Rule feature “What’s Love,” which prompted Ja to express remorse for giving Joe the song’s chorus: “Of all the hooks I’ve ever written, I wish I had kept that,” he said. And before slipping into a rendition of his # 1 hit “Lean Back,” Joe stopped the show to give Ashanti and Remy Hermes handbags on stage.
Despite the many Smack Talks, the mood at the end of the show was pleasant. Throughout the show, Ja Joe gave props to some of his greatest songs: “This is one of my favorite records!” he said more than once. Joe made it a point to say that he had chosen Ja to fight on VERZUZ because everyone else was scared of going up against Ja and all of his hit songs. “I want my brother to get the props he deserves,” he said. “I love Ja Rule with all my heart.” And when they brought out Jadakiss for their joint collaboration “New York”, it became clear that everyone on stage was on the same team. “I love this nigga like my brother,” said yes.
Last month, two typical New York crews, the LOX and Dipset, competed against each other at MSG. In June, Eve and Trina had a more pleasant remote session with Trina in Miami and Eve in London.
Read about VERZUZ in Pitchforks “How Music Persisted While the Pandemic” and read “Searching for Answers in Fyre Festival’s Viral Disaster” on the pitch.