GALLERY: Ashanti & Ja Rule

Always on time, Ja Rule and Ashanti brought the hits to the Observatory North Park on Saturday, Sept. 3.

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Hip-hop royalty Ashanti (pictured) and Ja Rule joined forces at the Observatory North Park on Saturday, Sept. 3.
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Between the two of them, they’ve got hits galore.
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The two artists have collaborated throughout their careers several times.
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While both artists may have achieved peak mainstream success in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, they’re still going strong and are as beloved as ever. Don’t call it a comeback!
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Ashanti was born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas and grew up in Glen Cove, New York.
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Ashanti’s eponymous 2002 debut album sold more than 503,000 copies in its first week, due to its lead single “Foolish.”
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The album won her a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album.
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Ashanti wrote and sang background on Jennifer Lopez’s “Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix)” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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Coincidentally, the song was also in the top 10 at the same time as three other singles she was featured on: “Foolish,” “Always on Time” (with Ja Rule) and “What’s Luv?” (with Fat Joe). She was everywhere!
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Ashanti became the first female ever to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously.
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Her debut album also won eight Billboard awards and two American Music Awards.
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She’s cited Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Madonna, and Tupac Shakur as big influences but says her all-time No. 1 influence is Mary J. Blige.
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P. Diddy tried to sign her back when she was 16 years old, after she auditioned for him and Notorious B.I.G. However, she wasn’t satisfied with the contract stipulations and never signed.
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Eventually, she continued to perform in NYC clubs and began hanging out at the Murder Inc. recording studio, where she had her big break.
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Fun fact: Stevie Wonder gave her the nickname “Little Libra”.
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In 2003, she started dating the rapper Nelly. They ended their 9-year relationship in 2012.
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Like Ja Rule, she’s also a successful actress, appearing in such films as: “Coach Carter,” “John Tucker Must Die,” “Bride and Prejudice” and “Resident Evil: Extinction.”
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Ja Rule was born Jeffrey Atkins in Hollis, Queens, New York City in 1976.
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In 1999, Ja Rule made his debut with the album, “Venni Vetti Vecci.”
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Its lead single “Holla Holla” was simply massive.
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For the next six years, he’d enjoy worldwide success with such singles as “Between You and Me,” “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny.”
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He then went on to release three huge hits with Ashanti: “Always on Time” (nominated for a Grammy and No. 1 single), “Mesmerize” and “Wonderful” (which also featured R. Kelly).
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Ja Rule has earned six Grammy nominations over the years.
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His 2000 album “Rule 3:36” and 2001’s “Pain Is Love” both topped the Billboard 200 chart.
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Fun fact: Ja Rule has said in interviews that his stage name came from a friend who addressed him as that; and his other friends called him “Ja.”
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He got his first taste of stardom when he appeared as a guest on Jay-Z’s No. 1 single “Can I Get A…” in 1998.
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According to reports, it was supposed to be a Ja Rule solo track but Jay-Z heard it and wanted it for himself.
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A longtime artist signed to Murder Inc. Records (later renamed to Inc. Records), Ja Rule eventually founded his own independent label called Mpire Music Group.
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In 2014, he announced that him and Irv Gotti had relaunched Murder Inc. Records.
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In February of this year, Ja Rule announced that the title of his upcoming eighth studio album would be “Coup De Grace” and said it will also be his last.
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Atkins is also a successful actor, appearing in such films as “Turn it Up,” “The Fast and the Furious,” “Half Past Dead,” “The Cookout” and “Assault on Precinct 13.”
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