Fat Joe Interview
|Label:||R4 So Valid, LLC/Terror Squad|
|Next Project:||Elephant In The Room|
|Twitter:||Fat Joe on Twitter|
|Website:||Fat Joe's Website|
Respect. It’s just one word, but it means everything. Maybe that’s why Fat Joe is preparing to drop yet another album, The Elephant in the Room, after nearly 15 years in the game. The Fat One’s certainly got it all: enough cash to make it rain for years, camera lights flashing everywhere he goes. So why, why is Joe still spending all night in the studio?
Respect, that’s why. Don’t get it twisted, the money’s great, but Joe’s determined not to stop until he gets his due as one of the greatest to ever grab a mic. In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s “DJ Z”, Joey Crack steps into the booth to talk about why he deserves a spot in the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame, explains his endless beef with 50 Cent, and runs through his list of enemies (Remy Ma) and friends (Weezy).
Listen to the Interview
Fat Joe Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a fifteen-year veteran who is about to release his eighth studio album this March. A man who has more nicknames than any rapper in the biz, please welcome, the elephant in the room, Fat Joe.
Fat Joe: Yeah yeah yeah, its Coca Baby, Crills Mania, Keiser Sosa, The Fat Gangsta, Fat Joe – you know, it’s all of the above, man.
DJ Booth: Don’t forget Bronx Terror, Boogie Down Bronxster, and Don Cartegena!
Fat Joe: [laughter] And ‘The Killer Kid from the BX Borough.’ [crackling noise]
DJ Booth: What’s up, Joey Crack? Thanks for joinin’ me.
Fat Joe: I’m good, my brother; nothing but love, Z.
DJ Booth: Your current single, “I Won’t Tell,” featuring J. Holiday, is starting to make its move up the charts. As we both know, secrets get you into trouble, but state one instance when you find it better not to tell.
Fat Joe: If you get caught up – we’re snitch-free, so that would be the best example of not telling.
DJ Booth: What about with your lady?
Fat Joe: With your lady as well, man; if she never catch you, why would you be tellin’? You know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: That’s a very good point.
Fat Joe: If you get caught doin’ something, then you’re f*cked. But, you’re with your lady, then its “her friends seen you where?”
DJ Booth: [laughter]
Fat Joe: You don’t know what she’s talkin’ about!
DJ Booth: Exactly. Have either of those instances come up in your life recently?
Fat Joe: Not really. [laughter]
DJ Booth: That’s good, stay out of trouble. “Elephant in the Room,” as I mentioned off the top, is dropping in March. The title is a reference to the staying power that you’ve had in the industry, and the subsequent lack of respect you feel you’ve been shown. Is that all there is to it?
Fat Joe: Absolutely. It’s like, the room is hip hop, and the elephant is me. Every time I see these countdowns of, who are the top ten rappers, they never want to mention my name. If you look at the longevity of an artist, somebody comes out and is an overnight sensation, and by the next album, its wack, and they’re not even in the game no more. So you got somebody givin’ you eight albums and a whole bunch of other joints – classics, anthems, underground bangers – and still, the elephant’s in the room… “Oh, my favorite MC is Ja Rule!” “My favorite MC is Jay-Z!” And the elephant is standin’ right in front of them, like, “Turn on your radio. Listen. Look at TV, look who’s on the box, all day.” You might wanna mumble my name??
DJ Booth: Joey, being that this is the case, why the lack of respect for you?
Fat Joe: Now we’re talkin’ about that. It’s about getting’ just due. Every time I come out with a record, I happen to feel that I’m the most improved MC ever in hip hop.
DJ Booth: That’s a bold claim.
Fat Joe: It’s the truth, though. If you look from where I started, to where I came to, no one has ever elevated their game from where I started to where I’m at right now; I’m the most improved rapper ever. And people know that, but they don’t mention that, and you see all of the other artists that came out with, a lot of them ain’t as sharp as I am, and they’re not relevant like me. It’s just the truth, man, and people need to give props where props are due.
DJ Booth: So after the release of “Elephant in the Room,” is this going to change, this perception?
Fat Joe: I hope so. I don’t know why it hasn’t changed yet. All I do is drop hits – that’s it. You know how hard it is to make a hit? You gotta honestly, besides this interview, pick out five of your favorite rappers, all-time or five of your favorite rappers that’s in the game now, and think about when was their last hit? Hit! I don’t wanna hear, “They’re not in the game to make a hit,” you know, “You don’t listen to them for that.” Everybody gets in the studio and tries to make a hit record that’s relevant. Ask yourself, “When was the last time they had hit records that spun all day on the radio, that’s classic?”
DJ Booth: There’s not a very long list of artists who I could probably name for you, but there are some.
Fat Joe: There you go, Z. There are some. Snoop Dogg is one.
DJ Booth: Kanye West.
Fat Joe: He’s phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, he’s one of my favorite rappers on earth, but he just got in. I definitely love him as a rapper.
DJ Booth: Of course, you probably would want to add Jay-Z to that list.
Fat Joe: Of course.
DJ Booth: My list pretty much stops there.
Fat Joe: My point is, [the list] is very slim.
DJ Booth: That assessment I will agree with one hundred percent. Joey, every time I turn around, I have an e-mail in my inbox that includes either a diss’ record that 50 aimed at you or that you aimed at 50. After three-plus years, why can’t this silly beef just finally be laid to rest?
Fat Joe: That’s what I’m askin’ myself! I’m askin’ myself why this guy’s mad, you know? I want to know: why does Fat Joe upset this guy so much? Why do I get on his nerves? Tell me why you mad? And they’re mad I am relevant. If Fat Joe wasn’t relevant and wasn’t hittin’, they wouldn’t be talkin’ about me and makin’ diss’ records and respondin’ and sayin’ all types of craziness. That’s just the fact. I’ve never rap beefed anybody else. He wants to take shots at me, and it is what it is. And he probably found the one guy who don’t give a f*ck, and I tell him to suck my d*ck. And he can’t understand that one.
DJ Booth: On the much talked about Rap City appearance, you stated the beef actually “helps you make more millions” than you ever made before.
Fat Joe: [laughter] I didn’t say “help me.” 50 Cent got lucky with Ja Rule, okay? It’s like a match made in boxing; you pick your opponent ‘cause you know your strength is his weakness. So then he went at Cam’ron – Cam’ron is always gonna be hot. He went at Jadakiss – [Jadakiss] is always gonna still be hot. He went at Nas – he’s still hot. He went at Fat Joe – he’s still hot. He can’t stop nobody’s career. Like, he thinks he can. He can’t. And ever since our beef with him, all we did was make hot records. We went through “Get It Poppin’,” to “Make It Rain,” to “I’m So Hood,” to “Taking Over,” “I Won’t Tell.” All we’ve had are hits since our beef with him. I don’t know what he’s talkin’ about. What I’m tryin’ to figure out is who is he stopping? He has to embrace reality.
DJ Booth: I don’t even think, if you were to ask him, he would really know himself why he’s doing all this, other than, of course publicity.
Fat Joe: Publicity, exactly. He wants to be relevant again on the streets – Fat Joe is hot in the streets! He wants to be relevant, let me go at Joe.
DJ Booth: Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Fat Joe: [laughter]
DJ Booth: Fat Joe, many readers on our site have pointed out your presence on all of DJ Khaled’s chart-topping Southern heavy hits over the past few years. Aside from your relationship with Khaled – I know you guys are real close – you were born and raised in the Bronx. So, with animosity still rampant between East Coast and down South rap, do any of your industry-mates or peers at home give you crap about the collaborations?
Fat Joe: I really don’t know. If they do, they keep it to themselves. And part two is, music hass no race; music is colorblind. White people are just as much a part of hip hop as blacks and Latinos and Asians. So, that point being said, music is music. You think I can’t like a guy’s music ‘cause he’s from the South, or he’s from the West Coast? Do I hear a hit from Snoop Dogg or Game and say, “Oh, they’re from the West Coast?” I love music, so if someone from the South makes incredible music, or someone from New York makes incredible music, and I love it, that’s what it is. In look as it as just one whole. I don’t categorize, South music, West Music, New York music – that’s not what I do.
DJ Booth: So would you say then that the animosity that does exist is just jealousy of success?
Fat Joe: I’m just tryin’ to say – people say hip hop is dead. I mean, maybe the hip hop you prefer is dead? I happened to love, when I was just a fan, before I was even in the game. Eric B., Rakim, Slick Rick, KRS-One – that’s my favorite era. I didn’t even have nothing to do with it. But I can’t say that because I love that era I don’t love Biggie and Tupac, or, because New York is not as hot as it used to be, I can’t love Jeezy, Lil Wayne and TI. I love their music.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about Terror Squad. Over the years, protégés Cuban Link, Triple Seis, and of course Remy Ma, have all left the label. Additionally, I’ve heard Tony Sunshine make public comments either embracing or distancing himself from your label. Can you pinpoint the cause of all these tumultuous situations?
Fat Joe: Well, first of all, I’m a middleman – I don’t have total control. I have deals through Koch, Universal, EMI, Imperial, so all I am is a middleman. So all I have to do is try to get people to put up the money to market and promote artists. That’s all I have. The first one is Cuban Link. He was a waste. I bought him a house before I bought myself a house. To spend $1,800,000 on that guy’s album – he just wasn’t a good rapper. He’s just mad, and he’s not relevant at all. He’s at a pub, a saloon right now, at a corner near you, drinkin’ a forty ounce. With slippers on in ten degree weather.
DJ Booth: That’s an unfortunate situation…
Fat Joe: [laughter] Yeah, yeah. And then Remy Ma panicked, she thought her first album was gonna sell a bunch of records –she thought it was gonna just do that off the box. She doesn’t realize that everybody gotta pay dues, and everything is just work in progress. She had to throw somebody under the bus, and it was Joe Crack. And she’s a very disloyal person, when she just keeps on – she wanted to leave the label, she left the label three years ago, I still haven’t heard a hit record yet. I’m tryin’ to figure out: was that the smartest move for her to make? ‘Cause at least with us she had money and she was relevant. She’s gotta know it was a bad decision. And she keeps disrespecting me. Nobody wants to hear a three hundred pound guy disrespecting a girl. Most of the time, no matter what she does, I just say, “Aight, it is what it is – whatever,” and let her say what she wants.
DJ Booth: Joey, do you think that after the success that you both had with “Lean Back,” she thought she could have that same success as a solo artist?
Fat Joe: Yeah, she probably thought it was because of her. I made “Lean Back” by myself – she begged me to get on the second verse. I made the hook, made everything. I gave her a window of opportunity, and she didn’t know how to handle that. Since the days of Julius Caesar, a lot of people always come up and break empires by talkin’ in people’s ears and stuff. And then you start to believe that it’s about you.
DJ Booth: Definitely. You’re gettin’ all 300 on me right now.
Fat Joe: It’s real talk!
DJ Booth: Joey, fellow collaborator, Lil Wayne, who is seemingly on top of the hip hop world right now, was recently arrested in Arizona, hit with a whole medley of gun and drug charges. With so much to look forward to, why do you feel big name artists are constantly putting themselves in the position to get busted by the cops?
Fat Joe: [sigh] I don’t know. I really don’t know, man.
DJ Booth: Does it frustrate you?
Fat Joe: Of course it does, because he’s my brother and I want him to do well, and I want him to succeed. And he has so much talent, but he’s also a grown man and he does whatever he feels like doing. Hopefully he’ll be all right. I wish him the best, because he’s a beautiful person.
DJ Booth: What do you do to make sure that you’re not put in a situation-
Fat Joe: I just don’t get high, man. I don’t smoke weed. I drink on occasion, but I’m a little older. I’m a little bit more mature, that’s it.
DJ Booth: Well. That leads perfectly into my next question. From ‘93 through to today, what have you learned about this business that you wish you knew from Jump Street?
Fat Joe: That the record labels and executives ain’t your family, ain’t your friends. That it’s just a business. You come in the game, you’re fresh off the streets, you’re a young kid, never had no money, and all of a sudden you sell some records and then the executives are actin’ like they’re really your friend, they love you – you fall for that. The minute you get lukewarm, they won’t even answer your calls, or [they’ll] run away from you. I’ve had executives run away from me when my album ain’t doing good, I swear to God.
DJ Booth: Figuratively or literally?
Fat Joe: These are the guys that, we’ve been cool, [who] run away from me. Before it was all private planes and they’re lovin’ me; the album came out, didn’t do well, and they was running. Running away from me.
DJ Booth: And the whole industry’s definitely taking a different form here in 2008, and will be for the next few years until they figure out exactly how to make this work. Joey, I wish you nothing but the best of luck.
Fat Joe: Thank you so much. This March, in stores, “Elephant in the Room.”
DJ Booth: Go ahead and give a website, Myspace, so people can find out more about the album.
Fat Joe: Yo, what’s my Myspace, man? [asks a label employee] It’s myspace.com/fatjoe.
DJ Booth: That’s what’s up. Joey, I appreciate your time, my man.
Fat Joe: Ciao baby! One.