Written by Megan Lane
Have you ever wanted to smoke a blunt with Fat Joe? Well now you can with a new app, ICONN, that launched on March 25th of last year. Jeffrey Bruce Atkins, who goes by the stage name Ja Rule, is one of a few industry veterans who brought this vision to life.
Ja Rule is best known for being a prolific rapper, actor, singer and songwriter. In fact, most folks under the age of 35 even remember his popular hit singles, while other people are huge fans who can memorize the lyrics to dozens of his tracks.
His first single debuted in 1999 which goes to show that Ja has been killin’ it in the music industry for decades. Throughout the years his popularity skyrocketed, leading to Grammy nominations, hit singles topping The Hot 100 Chart and millions of triple platinum status albums sold.
But now Ja Rule is transitioning into the tech world for the first time with his recent foray into entrepreneurship. He helped develop, create and promote his live streaming, concierge service that connects fans, aspiring musicians, journalists and more to thousands of famous artists. There is a wide array of available services, which Ja Rule told us about during our interview.
The fact is, ICONN is pretty frickin’ awesome. Our interview was even streamed live through the app where people could watch and comment.
In this exclusive interview with Ja Rule, he spoke out about cannabinoids like cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD,) his new app, the services ICONN offers and so much more.
TheraBalm: Do you use cannabinoids on a regular basis? Most people think Ja Rule and cannabis go together like peanut butter & jelly!
Ja Rule: [Laughs and lights lighter while holding a joint] I smoke cannabis, I love CBD, too. They’re very much my “drugs” of choice. I don’t really like to drink too much anymore. A little bit of weed; a little puff will keep me right, I like it, yeah. I use the RAW cones, joints. That’s my jam right there. I inhale, hold it in and that’s it.
TheraBalm: I just taught my dad how to use RAW cones. He’s on medical marijuana.
Ja Rule: See, that’s the beautiful thing about marijuana — it’s actually medicine. So you know, at the end of the day, as bad as you may feel about smoking, it makes you feel a little better knowing that people take a few tokes for health reasons, too. I feel like it’s good for me when I smoke bud, and I don’t know what it’s doing but we’ll find out.
I’m also a thinker. Sometimes I just sit and think, think and think. Often too much. All cannabinoids help me relax a bit so my mind is less wired.
TB: Do you think smoking flower enhances your creativity in the studio?
JR: I used to believe that when I was younger and making music. But then I had a period of time when I had to stop smoking because of some legal issues. During that time, I realized that it’s not the bud that helps me think of all these great raps, lyrics, words and how to put all of it together — it’s just me doing what God’s given me the ability to do.
Some people like to think that smoking weed or having a drink or whatever enhances creativity. But instead, I believe it gives you a sense of calm and a little bit of courage, like liquor. For instance, some people are not used to going into a recording studio and making music in front of a lot of people.
Before I became famous, I’d be in the studio by myself all the time recording because nobody wanted to be in there with me [laughs,] but after you become famous, everybody wants to be in the studio watching your sessions. So now it becomes a show, it’s to the point now where I’m like, am I performing or creating?
That can turn into an issue, but I found cannabis compounds help me. Smoking lets me settle down and realize, alright, this is part of my new process and people want to see it happening now. We made magic and now people want to actually see the magic.
But for me, I also enjoy having a crowd and noticing that first reaction from my peoples. That’s important and weed helped me learn to cope with it.
Courtesy of Ja Rule
TB: I’ve heard you’re a family man. In what ways has weed benefited your marriage?
JR: I think edibles or joints bring the tension down in my marriage, we have less arguments. Using a mild THC- or CBD-infused lotion, cream or balm is pleasurable when I’m getting and giving massages. Like medicine, it helps pain and inflammation. And when we’re both high and our body’s are relaxed, we don’t even got the energy man, like I’m good, listen [laughs.] So you know, weed is definitely really useful and I don’t even want to call it a drug anymore because it’s legal, it’s medicine… food for the soul.
TB: Can you tell us a little bit of information about your new app, ICONN?
JR: Sure, I mean, people like to ask me, what would you compare it to? And I’m just at the point now where I’m like, nothing. The app is growing and going to be something like you’ve never seen with original content.
Everyone is going to have their own merch store where they can sell their products and more. So you know, these are things we’re still adding in. There’s components we’ve implemented on this platform that no other app has. I want to see what kind of legs the artists will have actually being able to charge for live sessions.
Now I know it sounds like nobody’s done it, no one has actually said, “Alright, I’m going live and I’m charging $5 for it and y’all gotta pay to watch me do whatever the hell it is I’m doing.” Many people wonder, why would I pay for that?
But now think about it. Just think about it. It’s summertime, hot outside, and you’re scrolling on my new app ICONN and you go past, I don’t know, Drake’s page and there’s a lock on the screen and the screen says, “Drake’s Summer Pool Party.” For $1 or $5 virtual access? Let me see what’s happening, man! You understand? That’s the difference between what ICONN can become and will be.
These little things can have legs that nobody’s thought about. And since people are so into pop culture — and let’s put it this way, people are also very nosy. Many of us scrolling past would want to join in to see something like that if it was for $1 or $2 or whatever. But now think about that on a larger scale. Drake has millions and millions of followers. These guys would probably make $100,000 just for going live? $200,000? Who knows.
I know a lot of people like to think, well wow, damn, these guys are making a lot of money doing this, like why would we want to create an app that only makes the rich richer? But here’s when you start to think about the trickle-down effect, like what they try to do with taxes. It’s when they say something about lessening taxes for the rich so that maybe the poor will catch the trickle-down effect. They may want to spend more money or invest, and they want to do this or do that. Well, that’s what I’m looking at with ICONN.
Every aspect of this app is charitable. So if I go live and want to charge for doing so, I can donate a portion of the profits I’d make to a charity. So what I see happening is the trickle-down effect like no other. Artists are gonna’ donate to charities at a high clip on ICONN if they’re making good money. It’s trickling down and now we’re putting money back into our communities, cancer and AIDS research, and you know, pandemic relief, even frontline responders. All of this stuff becomes possible because it’s an app with a charitable component like no other platform.
Plus, when I see D-Nice DJing on Instagram, I’d love to give him a tip. You know, throw him a little, because come on man, he got me rockin’ in my crib! Give D-Nice $20, man! You know $20 times 1,000 is money. These are situations ICONN presents and it’s going to be good for all involved.
TB: Wow, nothing like it indeed. Will fans also have the ability to schedule virtual meet-and-greets with artists?
JR: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve created a ‘book now’ button on every artist’s page. We’re solving another problem here, which is the booking industry. The booking industry is archaic. How do you book Ja Rule, how do you book Ashanti, how do you get to these people when you need to? You gotta jump through 3,000 hoops. Call the agent, and the agent may never even give the note to the artist if the financial offer isn’t on point.
Now you can book your favorite artists for private live sessions. You want me to come and pump the kids up for the big game, wish your wife a happy anniversary or whatever, live? You can do that. You can book me and others for events like bar mitzvahs, weddings or an arena or club show… anything. ICONN’s giving a lot of options for artists to monetize their brand.
TB: This sounds incredible. Can we expect to hear some new songs from you soon?
JR: Real soon. Real soon. I don’t want to give dates or anything but I’m working on stuff right now. I’m actually going to shoot a video next weekend, so yeah, you’re gettin’ music soon.
TB: Awesome. Do you have any final words you’d like to share with our audience?
JR: Yeah, a message to mankind. Be respectful to one another. That’s all. Just be good to each other. Let’s figure out how to get to a place where we love and appreciate folks from all walks of life.
Check out Ja Rule’s latest happenings on his Instagram and ICONN’s website.