Picks and Pans Review: Ja Rule

updated 11/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

RAP R.U.L.E.

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After last year's disappointing Blood in My Eye, Ja Rule brings out the big guns—guest vocalists R. Kelly and Ashanti—for this disc's first single, "Wonderful." Unfortunately, the song weakly rehashes the same R&B-flavored rap that made the gravelly voiced Ja a crossover star with hits like "Livin' It Up," "Always on Time" and "I'm Real" (with Jennifer Lopez). The rest of R.U.L.E. won't help the emcee regain his hip-hop crown either. Whether he is engaging in tired boasts on tracks like "Last of the Mohicans," playing the thug lover on "Caught Up" or doing silly skits, Ja fails to rule the mike anymore. —C.A.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Where I'm From"

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