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Ja Rule

Ja Rule apologizes for club altercation

Ja Rule, Steven Skurka

TORONTO -- Ja Rule apologized to the city of Toronto after pleading guilty to assault in an altercation at a downtown nightclub last year.

"I'm just sorry about my actions," said the 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, as he stood on the courthouse steps Monday with his lawyer, wife and bodyguards.

He received a $1,200 fine after pleading guilty to assault for an incident that took place at La Rouge Nightclub in June 2004. He had been facing a more serious charge of assault causing bodily harm, which could have resulted in jail time.

"Hopefully this was a one-time outburst," Justice W.P. Bassel told him.

Ja said he was provoked by a crowd that had formed near him at the nightclub, shouting "derogatory" comments about his public feud with rapper 50 Cent, said prosecutor Mary Humphrey, reading from an agreed statement of facts. As he was leaving, he punched someone standing nearby, the court heard.

The victim ended up with a black eye and some cuts to the eyelid.

The judge apologized to Ja for the "disgraceful" comments shouted at the nightclub, calling them an "embarrassment" for the city.

The rapper, whose hits include "Holla Holla", was shooting a film in Toronto when the incident occurred. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.

Ja Rule in da courtroom

Straight from celebrating his birthday with his pal Chingy in Australia with cigars, cognac and Veueve Clicquot, rapper Ja Rule will find himself in a Toronto courtroom today. The "gangsta" hip-hop star, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, is scheduled to be in court this morning to face a charge of assault causing bodily harm.

"He will be (in court) and we are ready to go," his lawyer Steve Skurka said yesterday.

The matter relates to an incident at the La Rouge nightclub on Adelaide Street in the city's entertainment district last June.

Skurka said an alleged punch is at the centre of the charge.

The incident was originally reported in some media outlets as a stabbing at the Toronto club. Some reports have even said Atkins was "charged specifically for the stabbing." Skurka said that is not accurate. The New York native is out on $10,000 bail.

Last week he was in Australia celebrating his 29th birthday and headlining the Roc Tha Block Tour in Melbourne.

Skurka would not say yesterday how Ja Rule would plead but said last year that the rapper, whose signature phrase used to be "Murda," would plead not guilty.

Atkins has been before the courts before for pot possession and resisting arrest. This year, Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo, founder of his record label, was charged with laundering drug money.

Ja Rule recently launched a film production company, Focus Vision, and has vowed that his first project would catapult him into film stardom.

But Atkins's star power has been greatly diminished during the past two years, partly because of an ongoing war of words with superstar rapper 50 Cent.

Ja Rule was on top of the rap world before 50 Cent attacked him in his song Wanksta, released in 2003.

Ja may not Rule in Toronto courtroom

Ja Rule's career may be in a slump, but he is scheduled to begin a starring role in a Toronto courtroom tomorrow.

The New York native is supposed to be on his way here from Australia, after headlining the Roc Tha Block Tour in Melbourne last night. He faces a charge of assault causing bodily harm.

The matter relates to an incident at the La Rouge nightclub at 257 Adelaide St. last June 5 when the performer, legally named Jeffrey Atkins, was in town shooting the film Assault on Precinct 13.

With a publication ban in effect, there have been few details about the allegations against Rule, 28. His Toronto-based criminal lawyer Steve Skurka has said the married father of three plans to plead not guilty. The trial is to take place before a judge alone at Old City Hall.

During his July 27 bail hearing the courtroom was packed with reporters and court employees. Rule hugged fans and signed autographs after being released on $10,000 bail.

The gravelly voiced rapper has experienced the highs and lows of the entertainment industry since his 1999 debut.

His first three albums earned him multi-platinum sales, hit collaborations and minor roles in films such as The Fast and the Furious. But 2002's The Last Temptation and the following year's Blood in My Eye tanked and he found himself on the losing end of a lyrical battle with 50 Cent. His latest disc R.U.L.E. failed to restore his position.

There have been other brushes with criminality: court appearances for pot possession and resisting arrest; a fatal shooting outside a New York nightclub party he was hosting in December; and this year, Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo, founder of his record label, The Inc., was charged with laundering drug money.

Court date set in Ja Rule trial

TORONTO - New Jersey-based Ja Rule, the hip-hop star known for songs like Holla, Holla, will face assault charges in a Toronto court early next year.

The week of March 7 to 11 was set aside for the trial at a hearing on Wednesday.

The dates are tentative. One of Ja Rule's lawyers asked for time to contact him to make sure he would be able to attend for the duration of the trial.

The hip-hopper was charged with assault causing bodily harm after an altercation at a downtown Toronto nightclub on June 5. The 28-year-old's real name is Jeffrey Atkins.

He did not appear at Wednesday's hearing, although his lawyers say he will plead not guilty.

A publication ban has been placed on evidence in the case.

The Elimination of Hip-Hop

In October of 2003 Min. Louis Farrakhan said in an interview with Ja Rule "Hip-Hop is being threatened today-the future of it," Min. Farrakhan told Ja, "And I don't want to see you lose your life or 50 Cent lose his life, or any of the rappers lose their life. I think we've paid a price now to go to a higher level."

Min. Farrakhan continued to explain that those who govern and control see hip hop as a threat to their rule, because its culture is captivating the minds of all youth, regardless of class or color, and is causing them to reject the system of White supremacy, as it is portrayed in hip hop lyrics. The recent 'Vote' campaigns showed hip-hop's potential in political affairs.

"Hip hop has taken White children away from those who would shape them into oppressors," he said, adding that hip hop is a force the government can't control and so the government seeks to eliminate it.

If we look at some of the news since these statements were made by Min. Farrakhan we can only wonder if he foretold the future with his words.

There have been rap artist who seem to foretell the future in their rap. Tupac Shakur being one of the most talked about and adored.

Since Min. Farrakhan spoke these words we have seen many things that seem to point to the 'government' seeking out hip hop artist for persecution.

The recent cases of Beanie Sigel, Rakim, Lil Kim, Irv Gotti, T.I. and many others only point to an assault on the 'head' of the beast known as rap and hip hop. Then there are the law suits that threaten to put a 'damper' on the lives of some rappers. Nelly, Ludacris, Kayne West more recently Snoop Dogg are all being sued. And conservative radio and TV host take shots at rappers all the time. Trying to make them look like gangstas and bad role models, ( O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh being some of the top haters).

Then there is the 'Hip Hop Binder'; the ' surveillance ' material collected by police on rap and hip hop artist. This is a six-inch thick black binder. It includes the arrest records and photos of dozens of rap artists and their companions. Also, the Village Voice newspaper recently revealed the existence of a Hip-Hop Intelligence Unit within the New York Police Department.

Why is all this happening now? I am not saying any of the artist that are mentioned above were framed nor am I saying anything about guilt or innocence. But it is amazing how many of these cases start to fall apart when they finally get to trial. Of course there are some who are doing time. And there are some that we hear about; that the police want to question a certain rapper and give them 5 days to turn themselves in and then we hear no more of it. I guess there are two groups of rappers and hip hop artist; one to watch out for and one to look the other way for.

Separate the force and you have a better chance for overcoming them. This is a famous war strategy. Or pit us against each other is another. These tactics have been used by the government against the Black Panthers, the NOI and even farther back - The American Indian.

The Vibe Awards incident happened and everyone pointed at Suge Knight, Death Row Records CEO; just because he was there. Many news agencies fueled that story for weeks and then the one who started the 'fight' said Suge Knight paid him - and the news agencies were off again. But that has been weeks and we have heard nothing official about it. So there is a case of pitting us against one another.

The Eminem racist factor has been thrown into the mix now too. Imagine race playing a factor in hip hop? A culture based on being real and one love.

So we have the ones who side with Eminem and those who side with the Source. We have those who flip flop on this subject and we have those who really don't care. The diss tracks are still being dropped. Maybe not by Ja or 50, but it seems there are plenty of rappers who want to make a diss track just for the 'buzz' it will create.

Maybe Min. Farrakhan did foretell the future. It seems the government is taking a stance against the 'head' of the beast: rap and hip hop, basically because rap and hip hop really does scare the majority. No matter how widely accepted you believe hip hop is there are still many who wish we all would just go away.

They are finding ways to lock up some of the artist. They are causing others hardship. And they are watching and keeping records on most of them. It is time for all of the culture of hip hop to realize that we are being sought after to. Not just the artist, but look across the country. Shows are having problems, fans are having problems, and still the record labels and the police seem to maintain their standard of living as we struggle just to enjoy our culture of hip hop.

Min. Farrakhan was right and we should examine what else he had to say in Oct. 2003 - "We're tired of allowing people to use our pain to get rich and then watch us die and then hold our masters and keep making money for themselves and their families at our expense," he said. (Min. Farrakhan was talking about the record companies, but this can also apply to the government)

Be aware that all this is happening and don't let the main stream press make your mind up on a lot of the issues that affect the hip hop community. Whether it be if Eminem is a racist or if this rapper is guilty or not - make up your own mind. By looking into the allegations for yourself and forming your own opinion based on the evidence, you can assure yourself that you will not fall victim to the governments 'witch hunt' on rap and hip hop. Nor will they be able to separate us or pit us against each other.

And of course there are those in the hip-hop culture who really do the culture more harm than good. Look at Hot 97 and the recent ignorant practices at that station. It is true things like this hurt the culture of hip-hop and the perspective the mainstream puts on it, but there are also many good things going on that are not reported on or if they are they are twisted to fit the mainstream agenda.

But it is also true that there is a time to listen and learn from our mistakes. Min Farrakhan may not be a hip-hop mogul or a rapper with a story to tell; but his spoken word does bare truth and he is not afraid to tell it like he sees it. Isn't that one of the mainstays of hip-hop:' keeping it real'?

Min. Farrakhan told us this was going to happen, he pointed it out years ago and now we can see it all happening. Listen and learn and preserve the culture while we still have it to appreciate. Music videos and some of the lyrics we hear today do not reflect the 'real world' or what is going on in it. We must become aware and be aware to survive.