New York (CNN) -- Hip-hop artist Ja Rule turned himself to begin a two-year prison sentence Wednesday afternoon in New York.
The rapper, whose real names is Jeffrey Atkins, pleaded guilty in December to attempted criminal possession of a weapon after police found a loaded semi-automatic firearm -- with the serial number scratched off -- hidden in the backseat of his luxury Maybach sedan, according to a statement from the Manhattan's district attorney. The incident occurred on New York's Upper West Side in July 2007, the statement said.
He will be sent to New York's Rikers Island before being assigned to another facility in upstate New York, said his publicist, Courtney Barnes.
In the months leading up to his surrender date, Atkins has been putting the finishing touches on a new album -- his first in six years -- that is scheduled to be released later this summer, Barnes said.
Atkins has won MTV Video Music Awards, Source Awards, a BET Award, a GQ Man Of The Year Award, an NAACP Image Award, a World Music Award and a Teen Choice Award, according to the publicist's statement. He was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001.
In an interview on the TV show "Good Day New York" this month, Atkins said growing up in Queens, he felt almost groomed for prison and knew "a lot" of friends who were locked up.
In the interview, he said he regrets what his imprisonment will mean for his family.
"I've got three kids," he said. "If there was anything that I regret, I regret that they have to go through this with me, and I'm not going to be there for them."
CNN's Denise Quan and Alan Duke contributed to this report