Ja Rule headed to prison Wednesday for up to two years in a gun case, bidding a stoic but upbeat farewell-for-now to family and fans at a New York courthouse.

The multiplatinum-selling rapper and actor — whose gravelly voice, thuggish tough talk and duets with R&B divas made him one of rap's stars in the early 2000s — signed autographs for fans on his way to be sentenced. He pleaded guilty in December to attempted criminal weapon possession; the case stemmed from gun found in his luxury sports car in July 2007.

"See y'all later," he told family and friends in the courtroom audience as he was handcuffed.

"Love you!" called the group, which included his wife, Aisha, and his mother and mother-in-law.

Dressed in a white T-shirt, gray pants and a gray hooded sweat shirt, he replied, "Love you, too."

With that, Ja Rule, 35, was led away to start serving his sentence. He'll briefly be in a city jail before heading to a state prison yet to be determined.

He also faces the possibility of a federal prison sentence for failing to pay taxes on more than $3 million in income; he pleaded guilty to that in March. He faces up to three years in prison in that case, though his will push for any prison time in that case to be served at the same time as his New York term.

His sentencing in the tax case has been set for Monday. But it will likely be postponed to later in the summer, said his lawyer, Stacey Richman.

More at today.msnbc.msn.com.