Jury selection in the trial of the rap artist Ja Rule is scheduled to begin Monday in Manhattan State Supreme Court. There have been several delays in the three-year-old illegal gun case and the trial could be postponed yet again. People watching the rapper's fading career say it's in his best interest for the case to keep getting dragged out.
Marc Anthony Neal is a professor of popular African-American culture at Duke University and said fighting criminal charges at least keeps Ja Rule's name in the news.
"That has been a common strategy among folks who need to sell records and sell product," said Neal. "If the product itself is not going to help them sell anything, they have to find all kinds of ways, shape and form and notoriety. The criminal justice system is one of the best ways to do that."
Neal said Ja Rule has become virtually irrelevant as an artist to the contemporary black music landscape.
"There are many folks who thought that even the gun charge that came up in 2007 was an attempt for him to have some sort of viability or visibility," said Neal, "and I think the delays are directly connected to trying to keep his name out there some way, somehow."
Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, pleaded not guilty to criminal weapons possession after his arrest in 2007 when police found a loaded semiautomatic gun in the back of his car. He faces up to four years in prison. His lawyers say the trial has been delayed for many reasons out of their client's control.