For Ja Rule, the Fourth of July has always held special, family-centered memories in his hometown of Queens, New York.

“Growing up, we always did fireworks displays on the block. As I got a little bit older, before I was even an artist, me and my homies would go get fireworks and light them up for the young kids and stuff,” he recalls to Billboard. “We try to keep traditions rolling. A good friend of mine still does it in the hood every year for the kids. I also try to do it out in New Jersey for my family, but Jersey got the little foofoo fireworks.”

The “Mesmerize” rapper, however, is looking forward to having his family enjoy “the good stuff this year” in terms of fireworks, as he’s slated to perform at Macy’s iconic Independence Day fireworks show on Tuesday (July 4). He joins fellow performers AshantiBebe RexhaJelly RollLainey Wilson and LL Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip & The Roots for the big event.

“I’m bringing my kids,” Ja Rule gushes about the upcoming event. “They’re not kids anymore, they’re grown… I’m bringing my adults! [laughs] It’s going to be a family affair.”

The slew of hip-hop performers on the lineup is fitting, as the genre is celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary this year — something Ja Rule is immensely proud of. “50 years, who would’ve thought hip-hop would make it this far? I’m very happy to see the growth,” he says. “50 years ago, it was looked at as a fad and that it wouldn’t be here, so to be here 50 years later and be the number one genre of music is a testament to the power and perseverance of hip-hop.”

Ja Rule, who released his debut album Venni Vetti Vecci in 1999 and has since dropped six more studio albums, remembers the days when hip-hop artists were “once told that we weren’t real artists.” He’s one of the many legends of the genre who flipped the script, as Ja Rule boasts three Hot 100 chart-topping songs, two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and four Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart leaders over the course of his illustrious career.

“I wasn’t around for the history of other genres but I was around for hip-hop, and I’ve seen the hate we got,” Ja reveals, before quoting the King of New York and late hip-hop icon, The Notorious B.I.G. “Biggie said it best in ‘Juicy’ when he said, ‘Remember Rappin’ Duke? Duh-ha, duh-ha / You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far.’”

Catch Ja Rule’s performance during the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks special, which will air live Tuesday (July 4) at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and will also stream on Peacock, which you can sign up for here.

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