"Rule 3:36" was released as the Hollis, Queens, New York rapper's second album in 2000. It found him making a sharp turn from the rather dark debut that he dropped the year prior to this as he comes with a record that lightens things up a little more for him as a bit of a transition piece along the way to his Pop Rap for the album that would come directly after it.
2. "Watching Me"
After a rather cold start to the album (one that brings similarities to things heard on his first record) this one has him blasting out with some raw East Coast Gangsta Rap and the kind of stuff that listeners into their Hip Hop at the time really won't have been able to resist as he takes on clear influences from 2Pac and then-associate DMX to come out with a hardcore track to get it all started.
3. "Between Me And You"
We get the first hints of his softer side here as with this one the direction of the music changes significantly as we get him linking up with the R&B singer Christina Milian and together they work well (in the sort of way we would come to see with his later collaborations with Jennifer Lopez) as he attempts some love raps and does a good job of it all here with this, one of his mainstream breakthrough releases.
4. "Put It On Me"
We find another successful single in this one as here we get one where he teams up with the female rapper Vita and together they bring a tune that seems to carry with it similar themes to the last one, but on much less lively beats (to a track that was there to give Rule a little club airplay). I felt that it was one that needed a little more time to get into, but suited the feel of contemporary R&B tunes.
5. "6 Feet Underground"
We get even more of that raw stuff that played up to all the trends of the time (and would later be taken on by 50 Cent when he bumped Ja out of the game by coming with both Gangsta Rap and Pop Rap tunes to completely deem him irrelevant). The track goes hard and I felt that when it came to this side of his music he really did well to show that he can't be held back by Pop-directed joints elsewhere.
6. "Love Me, Hate Me"
Lil' Rob offers the beats with this one, and it appears that we get another incredibly exciting tune that I really can't see any room for complaints in as in this one we get a track that has him a tune that manages to bridge all of the various areas that he's attempting to appeal to in order to make for a tune that any of his fans (whether they follow his work closely or not) find something in it for them.
This is a head-bopper from the artist and so it appears that with it he is going out there to bring a track that is going out right towards the underground East coast Hip Hop scene (where nearly the whole of "Venni Vetti Vicci"; his first album, went out to. Tah Murdah, Dave Bing and Black Child all get a role on this one as rappers and it makes for a rather cold one that gives him more street cred.
8. "F**k You"
This was a popular tune from the rapper and one that I felt deserved the fair bit of popularity that it received around the time as we get him once again turning towards the club-based material and showing how well he is able to remain in control of it all (not getting carried away with trying to make it suit the mainstream crowds) as he does his own thing with it and makes for some reasonably strong results.
9. "I'll F**k U Girl" (Lude)
10. "Grey Box" (Lude)
After a short blast of Miami Bass, we find that here he opens out a track that I felt stood as one of the biggest on the record. It is one that stands out for the fact that it has lots of charactersitcs of what you would tend to expect from one of his singles, and so it seems to have the completeness that many album tracks don't have. The addition of San Diego's Jayo Felony gives this one a bit of a West Coast feel and so makes it stand out further.
12. "It's Your Life"
We get another unexpected heavy joint on the album that keeps the record rolling and getting things even more excited here as we see that here we have one where he teams up with another name from out of the West Coast, this time Inglewood, California's Shade Sheist (known for his Nate Dogg-assisted "Where I Wanna Be" in 2002) for a pretty fly tune that shows that he's still got a lot more to offer his listeners here.
13. "I Cry"
We get a significant change to the way things go here as we find that with this one we have a tune that has the R&B singer Lil' Mo (who also featured on one of the early singles from the album) joining in on this one by providing soulful vocals over the hook whilst he gets down to some mellow rhymes which concern his current relationship issues and how he hopes to resolve them here.
14. "One Of Us"
As Lil' Rob gets back on the beats with this one we see that we get something much more energetic this time around to get you fully-involved into the darker, Gangsta Rap-styled works that were the main source of his early success in the game. Here he comes with some thought-provoking rhymes which work on two different levels to show that he's developing well with his lyrical skills and although it may not be as impressive as some others who were working at the time, it is good for what it is.
15. "Chris Black" (Lude)
16. "Rule Won't Die"
The album ends with this one as we see that he comes out with a tune that is all about delivering the hardest stuff possible and giving the listeners something strong to remember him by (and to show how it has moved on from his debut album). He calms down his delivery and it leads to it allowing him to ride the beats in a much more impressive way to show that he really knows all that he's doing when he does his thing.
This is a strong album from Ja Rule, and one that I personally felt was an unexpected leap from the kind of things heard just before it on his 1999 album. He makes some significant changes and comes up with the goods. He may have lost fans along the way (some who I expect will have sided with the time of thing that DMX offered at the time for its darkness) but I saw the alterations as improvements.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro (Ja Rule/Rule 3:36)
2 Watching Me
3 Between Me & You - Ja Rule, Christina Milian
4 Put It On Me - Ja Rule, Vita
5 6 Feet Underground
6 Love Me Hate Me
7 Die - Ja Rule, Caddillac Tah, Black Child, Dave Bing
8 F*** You - Ja Rule, 01, Vita
9 I'll F*** U Girl
10 Grey Box
11 Extasy - Ja Rule, Caddillac Tah, Black Child, Jayo Felony
12 It's Your Life - Ja Rule, Shade Sheist
13 I Cry - Ja Rule, Lil' Mo
14 One of Us
15 Chris Black
16 Rule Won't Die