In his new memoir Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man, rapper Ja-Rule, who had a string of hits in the early 2000s, dishes on everything from selling crack as a teenager to meeting his wife in eighth grade shop class. He details his life all the way from growing up in New York City to becoming a megastar and there are also a few surprises for fans in the memoir.
One surprising fact about Ja-Rule’s early life, as revealed by TIME, is that he actually grew up a Jehovah’s Witness. “It was a tough and very strict religion,” explains the rapper. “No birthdays, no holidays, no Christmas. That type of stuff is tough on a kid, especially when everyone around you is celebrating those days, and you’re trying to figure out why we don’t get to celebrate too. For a lot of years I just thought my grandparents were cheap.”
Ja-Rule also reveals that he lost his vιrginity at the young age of 10 or 11. “Having your first taste, you know, like a vampire having your first taste of bloοd, is something you don’t want to stop. You want to continue.”
The rapper who also produced tracks says he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he’d kept the track “Can I get …” for himself and not let Jay-Z have it. “At the time I felt like — maybe I am shorting myself, maybe if I would have kept it for myself, maybe my album would have sold three million copies,” he says. “That was a great moment for me though, because it really launched my career, that record.”
Although he started selling crack at age 14, he says music saved him from that life because he knew “if I got in trouble or got arrested, that probably wouldn’t happen.”
But the rapper does reveal a romantic side, admitting the joy of meeting his wife, who he calls his soul mate, at a very young age.
“I’ve known that woman for a long time. It’s good to meet your soulmate, so to speak, at an early age, and go through life together, growing together. I watched her grow up, she watched me grow up.”