Release(s): June 1, 1999
Format(s): CD, Cassette, Digital
Genre(s): Hip-Hop, East Coast Hip-Hop, Gangsta Rap, Hardcore Rap
Producer(s): Irving Lorenzo (executive), Tyrone Fyffe, Lil Rob, Erick Sermon
Label(s): Murder Inc., Def Jam
Nowadays when you hear the name “Ja Rule”, you kinda wanna laugh, but there was a time where he had the rap game on lock. From 1999-2002, he was one of the most popular hip-hop artists among the likes of Jay-Z, DMX, Nelly, and Eminem. He first came into the scene in 1994 with his group “Cash Money Click” but rose to fame after his contribution to his colleague Jay-Z’s single “Can I get a…” and had his solo break with his own single “Holla Holla”.
Venni Vetti Vecci follows the trend of the “rugged, thugged-out” style that infested both East and West Coast Hip-Hop at the time. It’s filled with thug life anthems like “Murda 4 Life”, “We Here Now”, and “Let’s Ride” while tracks like “Daddy’s Little Baby” (a ballad for his daughter Brittany) and “Only Begotten Son” (a declaration to his estranged father) show a more vulnerable side to his thug persona. It also features various fellow hardcore artists like Jay-Z, DMX, Black Child, Memphis Black, and more. The album pretty by the numbers when it comes to the hardcore and gangsta rap scene talking about hustling, pimping, killing, praying to god, etc. which is the album’s biggest problem. While Ja Rule has a nice flow, the content feels indistinguishable from other artists doing the same thing. He doesn’t have the imagery and grittiness of DMX, the sense of humor of Method Man and Redman, or the introspectiveness of 2Pac. The highlight here is his lone single “Holla Holla” which makes great use of his voice by employing what he calls a “stutter flow”.
The skits are nothing to right home about but then again, that's par of the course.
Production is largely handled by Irving Lorenzo (better known as Irv Gotti) and the beats provided suite this type of music pretty well. There is loud basses, pounding drums and heavy synthesizers. It is also complimented by Ja Rule’s gruff voice which kinda sounds like DMX’s but is different enough to give it its own identity. The sound department is what really makes this album work.
Overall, Venni Vetti Vecci is a solid first-entry. While it doesn’t do anything new with the genre, what you do get are raw, high-energy tracks that are aided by Ja Rule’s competent MC skills. If you’re looking for your 90’s hardcore East Coast rap fix, I definitely recommend giving VVV a listen to.