In Music Reviews

It wasn't fire, but it wasn't Fyre either. (PHOTO: Dan Garcia)

Ja Rule played last night's Bucks halftime show, and I didn't hate it



Photo Gallery Gallery: Bucks beat the Timberwolves and also Ja Rule was there (?!)

On Friday night, Fiserv Forum hosted Travis Scott, the venue's first rap show as well as the first major arena concert from a rapper in more than a decade. "Let's hope that last night's show was just one of many rap concerts that Fiserv Forum will host in the coming years," wrote Dan Garcia, recapping the night.

In the coming years? You didn't even have to wait 24 hours, thanks to the halftime show the following evening as the Bucks celebrated '90s night during its Saturday home spat against the Timberwolves. However, to quote a movie from that very decade:

The unexpected halftime headliner? None other than rapper, "I'm In Love with a Church Girl" actor (available on Netflix right now!) and one of the brains – or lack thereof – behind Fyre Festival, Ja Rule.

Amongst many, many, many other questions, you may wonder why Ja – whose breakout album, "Rule 3:36," was released in 2000 and whose most famous songs were definitely after Y2K rather than before – would hit the stage for a '90s celebration. The rapper even admitted to the halftime crowd that he was perplexed, though he gave them a pass since his debut, "Venni Vetti Vicci," came out in 1999. Plus, it's not like Fyre Festival 2.0 is going to pay for itself!

And as you might expect from one of the key figures behind the scam of the the decade, things got off to a sketchy start. After congratulating the home crowd – who mostly stuck around for the show – on their first-place squad and some additional banter, Ja Rule awkwardly waited for his DJ to get the concert started. Eventually, the music began, but the rapper struggled to keep up the first song's rhythm, stumbling through while random airhorn blasts blocked his voice out completely. At least that rendered any rhythm problems moot!

Otherwise, the gravel-toned rapper sounded just like you remember; whether or not that's a good thing is up to you.

All jokes aside, I do not come here to bury Ja Rule – that's what the two streaming Fyre Festival documentaries are for – but to very mildly praise him. Playing a quick set of his biggest hits, including the J. Lo-aided track "I'm Real," "Livin' It Up" and the Ashanti-assisted smash "Always on Time (the latter two of the three Grammy-nominated!), I couldn't help stupidly falling into nostalgia. After all, I grew up with this music; "Pain is Love" was actually one of the first CDs I owned. (I asked for it for Christmas – the edited version, because I was still WILDLY unhip. For more damning evidence, see the other CD I received by request that year for Christmas: a Yo-Yo Ma album.)

Nostalgia aside, for basically a nothing gig tributing an era he's not particularly associated with at a time when he's mostly a punchline, Ja Rule seemed thrilled to be there. The man interacted with the crowd and grinned the whole way through the show, issues and all. For a few minutes, I could see why people would follow this man to a rocky beach of FEMA tents in the middle of the Caribbean to see Blink-182. (Well, the scamming and lying was why, but whatever.)

In the end, a concert event involving Ja Rule's participation could be far more unpleasant. The halftime show wasn't fire, but it wasn't Fyre either. Giannis didn't seem too impressed though.

By the way, the Bucks beat the Karl-Anthony Towns-less Timberwolves, 140-128. Thankfully, not everything Ja Rule touches turns to cheese and white bread sandwiches.


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