It was just two years ago backstage at a Beyoncé concert hip hop heavyweights Jay-Z, DMX, and Ja Rule were in the same room reminiscing about old times together. They were on the cusp in the late 90’s putting together the greatest hip hop super group Murder Inc, orchestrated by Irv Gotti. Although an album would be totally out of the question, just one more track together would be monumental for the culture.
Murder Inc. Reunion
Funkmaster Flex- Interview with Irv Gotti (29:00 mark for ties with Jay-Z, DMX, & Ja Rule)
Jay-Z still garners great attention with the music he puts out today as evident with his appearance on Meek Mill’s “What’s Free” from his just released album Championships. Swizz Beatz at every opportunity has promised that DMX will rise again to prominence. In the famous untitled track Swizz played in a battle against Just Blaze did illustrate that he still has the hunger and desire. Ja Rule has been touring the last few years with Ashanti and a few months ago put out the track “Encore” which serves as a teaser for their upcoming collaborative project.
Irv Gotti, who was instrumental in all three artists development and success early on put them on the track “Time to Build” from Mic Geronimo’s 1995 album The Natural under the moniker Murder Inc. The plan was to have them signed to the TVT label that Mic Geronimo was tied to but it did not come into fruition. Ja Rule had been briefly signed to TVT via his first group Cash Money Click but had been dropped. In 1996 a track surfaced from the defunct Cash Money Click that featured Jay-Z and DMX titled “If It’s On It’s On”.
Mic Geronimo – Time to Build feat. Murder Inc.
VladTV – Ja Rule Interview discussing TVT Records.
Cash Money Click – If It’s On It’s On feat. Jay-Z & DMX
Eventually Irv Gotti landed a role as A&R for Def Jam and helped facilitate record deals for Jay-Z, DMX & Ja Rule. To help raise awareness of the Murder Inc. brand, a track labeled “Gotti Style” had Ja Rule and DMX rapping over LL Cool J’s “Who Shot Ya” remix instrumental in 1997. The song was part of a promo mix tape showcasing Def Jam artists. Later that year Ja Rule and DMX would pop up on “Usual Suspects” from Mic Geronimo’s Vendetta album as well as Def Jam’s How to Be a Player (soundtrack).
Ja Rule and DMX – Gotti Style
Mic Geronimo – Usual Suspects feat. DMX, Ja Rule, The Lox & Tragedy Khadafi
1998 was the year that the buzz truly started for Murder Inc. On May 12th both DMX’s debut album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Jay-Z’s Streets Is Watching (soundtrack) were released. DMX’s first album would go on to sell close to 5 million records. Jay-Z’s soundtrack would include “Murdergram”. It was the first song to include all three members of Murder Inc. since their first song together back in 1995.
Murder Inc. – Murdergram
Later that year Jay-Z put out his best-selling album to date Vol.2… Hard Knock Life which went on to sell 5 million plus. The lead single “Can I Get A…” featured Ja Rule. Originally the track was meant for Ja Rule’s debut album. DMX appeared on “Money Cash Hoes”. That November DMX made his acting debut on the film Belly starring alongside Nas. All three Murder Inc members appeared on the accompanying soundtrack including “Grand Finale” featuring DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man, and Nas. Jay-Z appeared on “Crew Love” alongside with Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek.
Jay-Z – Can I Get A… feat. Ja Rule & Amil
Jay-Z – Money, Cash, Hoes feat. DMX
DMX – Grand Finale feat. Nas, Method Man, & Ja Rule
Jay-Z – Crew Love feat. Beanie Sigel & Memphis Bleek
Right before the end of the year Jay-Z and Ja Rule collaborated on “Gangsta Sh*t” off of DJ Clue’s The Professional. Literally after that DMX put out his sophomore album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. He was the second hip hop artist after 2Pac to put out two number one albums within a year. Jay-Z showed up on “Blackout” with The Lox.
DJ Clue – Gangsta Sh*t feat. Jay-Z & Ja Rule
DMX – Blackout feat. Jay-Z & The Lox
In 1999 Ja Rule released his debut solo album Venni Vetti Vecci. By this time talk of a full-fledged Murder Inc. album reached a fever pitch. The trio were featured on the track “It’s Murda”. In addition, Jay-Z showed up on the remix to “Holla Holla” and “Kill ‘Em All”. However, the album never came into fruition. Jay-Z was featured with DMX on ‘Why We Die” off of Busta Rhymes 2000 album Anarchy. Then lastly in 2010 N.O.R.E put out the track “Stay Flawless” which reunited DMX and Ja Rule.
Ja Rule – It’s Murda feat. DMX & Jay-Z
Ja Rule – Holla Holla (remix) feat. The Murderers, Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek & Busta Rhymes
Ultimately it was egos that got in the way of the Murder Inc. album from happening. Irv Gotti in a span of less than five years helped brand DMX, Ja Rule, & Jay-Z as the biggest hip-hop artists of the late 90’s. Even though the album did not happen, the trio left classic material they worked together for fans to enjoy. Hopefully though before all is said and done the three heavyweights can come together one last time.