As has come to be understood, a Veruz battle is not only a spirited dose of healthy competition but also a wholesome excuse for two veteran rappers to celebrate their respective catalogs. Most recently, the stage belonged to New York artists Fat Joe and Ja Rule, both of whom have blessed the game with no shortage of hit records.

Alas, not all hits were welcome in their respective setlists. Like many others, both Ja and Joe have collaborations with R. Kelly. The former collaborated with the disgraced singer on “Wonderful,” while Fat Joe linked with Kelly on “We Thuggin’.” During a recent conversation with NORE and DJ EFN over at Drink Champs, Ja opened up about their conscious decision to avoid incorporating any R. Kelly collaborations into their Verzuz battle, citing a conversation that took place prior.

Ja Rule

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For Ja, however, there’s a certain complexity surrounding Kelly’s musical legacy. Around the twenty-four-minute mark, Ja laments the inability to separate the art from the artist, claiming that it seldom happens in mediums like fine art. He laughs, noting that the difficulty of doing so is the reason they opted to go Kelly-free during Verzuz. Still, it’s clear he feels torn about the subject, as he elaborates further.

“R. Kelly is flawed,” he says. “R. Kelly is a flawed man. He’s going through his problems. Nobody’s perfect, he’s flawed. What he’s done is what he’s done and he has to account for that. But the art — do we throw it away?” NORE brings up Bill Cosby, making it clear he’s not about to stop enjoying The Cosby Show. “It’s such a touchy subject, and for me it’s a touchier subject,” continues Rule. “Here’s the crazy shit. I wrote my part and sent it to R to sing. Nobody sends R. anything to sing. He writes the hooks and sends it to everybody.”

For much more from Ja, be sure to check out his complete interview on Drink Champs below. In other R. Kelly news, the singer was recently found guilty on all charges, with the sentencing hearing to be held on May 4th of 2022; he faces life in prison. 

WATCH: Ja Rule talks Verzuz & more on Drink Champs