When Joe moved to Miami, he was instrumental in the careers of DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and other Southern stars. All of this was on top of his solid solo catalogue – and while many of us will associate our favourite clubbing memories with crossover bangers like ‘What’s Luv?‘ and ‘Make It Rain‘, Joe’s dedication to hardcore hip-hop has been longstanding and unwavering. Plus, you’ve got to respect a rapper who’s collaborated with everybody from M.O.P. to Jennifer Lopez, right?
Currently on his first Australian headline tour, we sat down with Fat Joe to talk us through his extensive career and future plans. He plays at Hotel Chambers in Sydney this Saturday January 23 – grab your tickets right here, and see the remaining dates on Facebook.
Yes it does. If you listen to Peter Rosenberg or Kay Slay or a couple of other DJs, they always play that signature New York sound. Now, is New York leading the way globally? Other areas such as the South and LA have a real strong movement. You got some new up and coming artists in New York, but that sound isn’t the dominant sound no more. In the 90s, we were the Number. 1 region.
I’ve always been an unsung hero. I’ve always been a trendsetter who never got recognition for what he does. When music evolves, I move with the times – like “Alright, it’s going to the bounce – let me represent Fat Joe and my sound with that bounce.” I don’t have a problem adapting. I just completed an album with me and Remy Ma, we’re dropping the single in three weeks and it’s called ‘All The Way Up’. It’ll show you that it’s the new sound that everybody loves, but it’s Fat Joe and Remy Ma. You just got to find that perfect marriage between the two.
I don’t know. What I do know is that we just completed an album, we’ve been together everyday. She’s my business partner in this venture, she’s not Fat Joe’s artist – she’s a 50/50 business partner. She came out of jail and she’s proving to be an entrepreneur and a boss lady. So I figured, you know what? Let’s break bread.
It’s hip-hop, it’s meant to be provocative and it was. We’re all the way across the world talking about it now, so it worked. It’s another hip-hop moment.
I wasn’t competitive with them at all. We had something to bring to the table, representing the Bronx – the birthplace of hip-hop. I started out with Diggin’ In The Crates – which was one of the most legendary hip-hop groups of all time – then I created Terror Squad. I never viewed Wu-Tang or Ruff Ryders or any of them as competition, I always embraced them and love what they did.
Yes sir. It’s all about legacy and giving the fans what they want. I’m excited. As a matter of fact, I wrote a song for D.I.T.C on the plane coming over here yesterday. We’re a couple of songs in, that’s my crew. I get excited when everybody’s on the mic and Finesse is back, Diamond is back. I think the fans need that.
I met Biggie at the Lyricist Lounge, and the first day my song ‘Flow Joe’ was Number. 1 in New York – actually it went Number. 1 in the country. He battled like 20 rappers. Funny thing, Biggie had a backpack on and Puffy was acting stupid onstage – this was before anybody knew who Puff was. He was acting crazy onstage, “Give him another one! Give him another one!” Biggie was killing all of them niggas. And I was in the back, I met him and we became cool ever since that day. I used to go to his house in Brooklyn and chill, we was good friends and I was like “Yo Big, let me give you a show, come Uptown.” I think I paid him 1500 and a bottle of Moet, and that’s how we got the first show.
About the record together, Biggie had all the beef with Tupac, I was coming off my second album. He was like “Yo what’s up. You could be the Spanish, I could be the black – Twin mafia bosses! We could kill this shit!” We cut like four records. I know what I know now, Atlantic Records played the ‘divide and conquer’ game: I was doing the album with Biggie so they gave me a record deal that was too good to be true, offered me my own label and everything in their world, because Biggie and Puffy was really fucking with Fat Joe and they was the hottest in the game. Let’s steal Fat Joe from them – Record Business 101.
I really can’t comment on that, there’s a lot of weirdo shit going on. Once again, I’m evolving with the times and being fly and being dressed nice – but some of these guys are doing extra shit that Fat Joe don’t co-sign.
I think we shocked the world when I wore the sky blue fur with R Kelly, and I jumped into the water with the fur on. That would be my biggest fashion moment.
That was incredible, man. In ‘Don Cartagena’ we really looked like we was Al Capone’s cousins!
I’ve always been a pretty sociable guy, I’ve always gotten along with everybody, I’ve always supported everybody. With that being said, I’ve gotten into my bumps and bruises with artists. I don’t ever really think that they were ever my fault, it was always someone pushed me to react like that. I would live in a land of peace before war anyway, it’s just that when I’m being tested, I always stand up for myself.
Man, who knows, but I’m excited about both projects. They’re not just regular projects, they’re projects that I put my life, my soul, my heart on the line to make sure it goes right. I’m in an incredible space as far as making music goes – you hear every rapper say it, but very rarely do you have a rapper who’s been in the game as long as me, that elevates and gets better every time… I’m like a college professor of music, going through different theories, thesis and degrees.
This one right here is serious. There’s never been an album from an OG rapper that sounds this fucking hot and hard as the shit I just pulled off with Remy Ma. It’s sick, it’s a classic. Usually I’m humble about my rap skills, but I can’t be – I just got the let the world know that this album is sick. Pound for pound, you can put it against your favourite rapper’s album all day. We really went crazy.
Head image by Mariela Lombard