Long Before DMX, JAY-Z & Ja Rule Were Murdering MCs, They Had Time To Build (Audio)
In the late 1990s, DMX, JAY-Z, and Ja Rule came together for two incredible collaborations. On Jay’s Streets Is Watching soundtrack from early 1998, “Murdergram” showed that these grimy, overly irritated MCs hit their marks when they were together. In pivoting to Ja Rule’s 1999 debut Venni Vetti Vecci, “It’s Murda” showed that a spree was starting. Both songs were produced by Flipmode Squad affiliate Ty Fyffe—allowing three distinct voices to shine. These were all Def Jam Records flagship acts, and all New Yorkers (from different parts of the city). Jay, who would make collab albums with R. Kelly and Kanye in the two decades to come, appeared open to combining fortunes while trading flows. There were grumblings of a super project.
While Hard Knock Life Tour show-goers associate these songs with their late 90s releases, the chemistry between the 3 artists was years in the making. Irv Gotti was the plug. In 1995, he brought these three together as guests on Mic Geronimo’s “Time To Build.” The Blunt/TVT Records track was produced by Gotti (as “DJ Irv”). Even before he laced Jay with “Can I Live,” the Queens, New Yorker was fast at work with Masta I.C. (Mic’s nickname) on a Natural album and EP that went overlooked.
Rakim’s voice is the chorus on a very hardcore Hip-Hop track. Mic begins, followed by one of Ja’s earliest appearances on wax. R.U.L.E. lacked the melody in his delivery, but the gritty vocal was in tact. On the other hand, Jay’s smoothness is present. This rare ’95 entry is a bridge between his solo career and his Jaz-O and Original Flavor features. Dark Man X closes things out, at a time between his failed Sony deal and his ’97 comeback. The content shows what Heads would grasp in ’98, but the delivery is very much entrenched in a sound popularized by ONYX, Method Man, and others.
By the mid-2000s, Ja and DMX had a fallout, as did Jay and X. Ja Rule told MTV that there “may” be another Murder Inc. group track in the vaults. One of the cooler photos taken in recent years is of these three MCs, still together (after some in-fighting between X and his two counterparts, separately).
#BonusBeat: Several weeks ago, Irv Gotti sat down with Funkmaster Flex. There, the Murder Inc. label founder explains why it didn’t happen with Mic Geronimo as planned:
In 2015, Mic (also from Queens) rocked alongside Kool G Rap and Nutso on the song “Blood & Bones.”