Ja Rule: Church is Fly

Photo Geoff Black

You’re about to see and hear a lot more of Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins in the next couple of weeks.

His first post-prison record, the aptly title “Fresh Out Da Pen” is available on iTunes Friday and his new movie, I’m in Love with a Church Girl, hits theaters October 18.

“I read the script and I could relate to the main character,” says Atkins, who co-stars with former Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon.

The faith-based movie, which is loosely based on producer Galley Molina’s life tells the true story about how a former drug trafficker comes to know the Lord.

“It’s about how God used a woman to lead me to church,” says Molina. “I wrote it because it was my real-life experience. A lot of people feel they can’t go to church. Some people set the bar so high, you feel you can’t go in there. That’s why the movie tagline is, ‘Come As You Are.'”

The movie begins with Atkins’s signature gravely voice: “I wish I knew then what I know now.”

“You don’t really learn lessons until you go through them,” says Atkins. “Galley lends validity to the story because he lived the life.”

The most important lesson Atkins said he learned from a much-publicized stint behind bars was maturity.

“It’s a lesson of growing up. That was the first thing I had to learn,” he admits. “I was very young. Being in this business gives you a sense of invincibility. I felt I could do anything in life.

“It’s like you’re speeding along and a red light makes you stop. I went through the red light and now my car is wrecked,” he says. “It slowed me down. It showed me there’s a different way of life. I needed to start doing things another way. It was a very good lesson for me. God uses extreme measures for extreme circumstances.”

Atkins also talked about his return to music and said he’s going to come “full power.”

“Everything is calculated, strategic,” he shares. “I want it presented in the right way. Even my first album was very strategic, especially with the first three titles. I knew those records were coming before you guys. My music is very structured.”

As for the current state of rap, Atkins says he’s enjoying it.

“I’m turned up,” he jokes. “You won’t catch me twerking though.”

But the more things change, the more they stay the same, according to the New York-based rapper.

“There’s nothing new under the sun,” he says. “Nobody’s reinventing the wheel. You see a dance craze and it’s just being done differently. Everything comes full circle. The older folks are making music for us. That’s the beauty of hip-hop: as we get older, hip-hop gets older … Hip-hop’s not going anywhere.”

Even though Atkins is starring in a faith-based movie, don’t expect him to pull a MA$E and become Pastor Ja Rule.

“I think Israel [Houghton] said it best for me. There’s definitely some type of calling there for me,” the rapper shares. “Something bigger … With a voice like mine, it’s better for me to be on the outskirts pulling people in.

“Church is cool. Church is fly,” he says. “That’s the message that needs to get across.”

And being a good parent is cool, too. Atkins complimented celebrity fathers on Instagram, such as fellow rapper P. Diddy, who are going to sporting events with their kids and being active in their lives.

“I dropped my daughter off at school two weeks ago and that was one of the proudest moments of my life,” he reveals.