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‘Venni Vetti Vecci’: Ja Rule’s Electrifying Debut Album

A brilliant statement of purpose from one of the most distinctive MCs of the late 90s and early 00s.

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Ja Rule album cover
Cover: Courtesy of Island Def Jam Music Group

Venni Vetti Vecci, the debut album from Ja Rule, was also the inaugural release of Murder Inc. Released in the summer of 1999, it was a brilliant statement of purpose. On Venni Vetti Vecci, you couldn’t help but hear label founder and producer Irv Gotti’s template: Cut-throat lyrics and lifestyle brags, joined up to a mix of rowdy club-centric production and sweeter R&B-influenced outings. It was a record that served notice that Murder Inc. had arrived.

Listen to Ja Rule’s Venni Vetti Vecci now.

True to the somber image of Ja Rule gazing at a statue of Jesus on the album cover, religious imagery and iconography abound on Venni Vetti Vecci. On the opening “The March Prelude,” the raspy baritone manages to issue both a rallying cry to “all my murderers!” while also pleading to a higher spiritual power: “Lord, can we get a break?/ We ain’t really happy here/ Take a look into our eyes/ And see pain without fear.”

The March Prelude

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This is hardly the only time that Ja juxtaposes openly murderous threats with allusions toward spirituality. “God, why the hell am I here?/ Is it a blessing or a painful lesson of life and its directions?” Ja asks on the string-laden “Race Against Time,” before channeling his steely streak to issue an unrepentant warning: “I embraced and showed you love/ Then I throw slugs/ At the other side, go get ’em in broad daylight.”

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As Venni Vetti Vecci plays out, high-grade guests help out: Jay-Z joins for “Kill ‘Em All” and the rumbling “Murda” (the latter track also co-stars a typically energized DMX). Veteran EPMD MC and producer Erick Sermon provides musical and verbal support on the low-key melodious “E-Dub And Ja,” while loftily comparing his presence to both Big Daddy Kane and Godzilla. Ronald Isley, meanwhile, lends his voice to the cautionary letter-to-a daughter “Daddy’s Little Baby.” But despite the sprinkling of larger name talent dotted throughout Venni Vetti Vecci, the host MC is never overshadowed. His cocksure presence befits the translation of the album’s Latin title: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Listen to Ja Rule’s Venni Vetti Vecci now.

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