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Rapper Ja Rule (real name: Jeffrey Atkins) has lodged a complaint over his height on Wikipedia, a free internet encyclopedia you may have heard of. Looking for someone to blame for three unacknowledged inches, Ja Rule tweeted at the site, "Wikipedia is the most inaccurate shit ever lol how are they still in business??? Anyway somebody fix my shit I'm 5'9 not 5'6 [sic]."
Anonymous editors altered his page countless times, once declaring that he was "the most talented 4' 6'' tall rapper." That's an unequivocally hilarious joke, but it doesn't solve our problem: How tall is Ja Rule?
Wikipedia is the most inaccurate shit ever lol how are they still in business??? Anyway somebody fix my shit I'm 5'9 not 5'6...— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) September 2, 2015
@Wikipedia I want my 3 inches!!!— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) September 2, 2015
Since time immemorial or whenever online dating was invented, men have lied about their height. But how does someone super famous, someone photographed and filmed constantly, lie about an apparently objective physical attribute? Easy. More often than not, celebrities exist in our mind, not in physical space. We don't hang out in the same room as them; we see them from afar or through a lens, in costume or red carpet ready. Celebrities are what they tell us they are.
From that great of a distance, height isn't objective like a mole on a cheek; it's easily manipulated through a lens. Turn the camera perspective this way, Ja is a giant; crop the photo at his legs, and he could be 4'7" or 6'8". So the only thing a famous person has to do is cast some doubt toward this bendable human attribute. Ja Rule has done that with two tweets.
The only person who can confirm the rapper's height is probably his doctor. In lieu of that hot exclusive, we'll settle for people on the internet who have seen him once, maybe twice. According to anecdotes on the seminal celebrity height website, celebheights.com, Ja Rule is somewhere between 5'4" and 5'6", or rather, "lucky if he's 5' 4"" and "tiny as hell." These pro bono height scientists offer up his 2011 mug shot as a reason the general public might be confused, and they're right. The picture is confusing.
Look at it from a couple different sources, and you're met with multiple stories. The one above was credited to New York State Department of Correctional Services on Buzzfeed, so it could have come from anywhere. In it, he's 5'8" — unclear whether that's with or without shoes, but 5'8" nonetheless.
And then there's this picture. Ja is just nearly 5'8" (again, with or without shoes?), but it's clearly different; he's clearly shorter. This picture appears on The Daily Mail, which also credits New York State Department of Correctional Services. The mere possibility of photoshop tinkering in both/either mug shot casts both/either mug shot into question, and by transitive property of mug shots, it also casts Ja's claim to those three inches in doubt.
"WHAT IS THE TRUTH?!???!!" we cry out across the internet abyss. Who will answer the call? Could it be the Mystery Show, hosted by former This American Life producer Starlee Kine, who solved the great enigma of Jake Gyllenhaal's height WITH A PHONE CALL FROM JAKE GYLLENHAAL? Maybe Ja Rule's doctor? Maybe you were behind him at the breakfast buffet at the Mirage in Vegas and had your tape measure handy? Can someone — anyone — answer definitively, how tall is Ja Rule?