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Fat Joe Talks New Album, Pitbull and Ending Beef with 50 Cent — Exclusive Interview

Fat Joe
Chris McKay, Getty Images

It’s been twenty years since Fat Joe entered the rap game. Represent, his debut album featuring the eponymous first single “Flow Joe,” dropped in July of 1993. Boy, time really does fly.

Since then the Bronx native has scored more hit records than most casual rap fans even realize. “We Thuggin,” “What’s Luv?,” “Make It Rain” sound familiar? That’s not to mention his collaborations like “Twinz” with Big Pun and “Lean Back” with his group Terror Squad.

Yeah, Joe’s catalog is crazy.

Now, the rap legend is prepping his 11th LP, The Darkside Volume 3. Read our exclusive interview to hear why he settled his beef with 50 Cent, why Big Pun is still the most famous Latin rapper and whether or not he feels he gets the respect he deserves.

Your last project The Darkside Vol. 1 was a serious rap record, where you went back to the underground. How do your new LP compare to the last one sonically?

Well, this new album can’t compare to any other album because it’s a collabo album. It’s me and a bunch of artists that got together and put together some great music and it’s nothing like you’ve ever heard before from my stuff.

“Another Round,” featuring Chris Brown, was a big mixshow record. Is it on this album?

Yeah that will be on this, and the remix. We got a bunch of people. Wiz Khalifa, Teyana Taylor, Fabulous and Trey Songz to name a few.

Chris Lighty was such an important part of your early career. How did losing him affect you?

It was sad for his family and was a bad day for hip-hop. This guy changed my life. I came from the streets and if it wasn’t for him finding me I wouldn’t have a career in hip-hop.

What was the significance of you and 50 finally putting your beef to bed?

Well, the Chris Lighty thing happened, and we were all supposed to perform at the BET Awards. When we went to rehearsal, 50 came over to me and was like, “You know Chris wanted us to be cool with each other. He wanted this to be over with a while ago.” I agreed with him, and it went from there. Chris would’ve been happy ultimately with how we handled things, so I’m glad that that is over with

From Big Pun to Cool & Dre to DJ Khaled, your eye for spotting great talent is amazing, if not underrated. Why do you think you’re overlooked as a tastemaker in that respect?

Critics out there always seem to overlook what I have done, yet I have been the one to discover a lot of this talent out there, on top of putting out my own stuff. “Lean Back” was number one for 19 straight weeks. “I Won’t Tell” with J. Holiday went number three; “Another Round” just went number three in America last year. “We Thuggin” went number five. These are facts, man. I just don’t get it. You got Remy Ma who is one of the best female rappers in the game. DJ Khaled has his own company and is a huge mega-producer out there. Chances are if I am the one to cosign people they will become a big part of the industry.

When you moved to Miami years ago you really helped certify that that’s where you needed to be if you wanted to be involved in hip-hop. What has the success of guys like Rick Ross and others from Miami meant to you?

In New York there wasn’t really any unity. When I moved to Miami, things were really looking up for me. I linked up with so many different guys from Rick Ross to Lil Wayne to Birdman. All of us knew each other but had never worked with each other. The biggest misconception in the hip-hop industry is that people are only focused on the money. We should just be happy for everybody that is working in the hip-hop culture. I got a better sense of that unity when I came down to Miami.

Pitbull has taken Latin rap to the biggest place it could be. Do you feel any which way about the fact that he had to sort of cross over and make dance music to do it?

I feel like he is so creative and is a genius, and we all know he can rap. I could give you a fake answer, but I’ll give you the real answer. Real answer is that I am happy for him. He’s rich! He made his way and I am happy for him regardless.

Had he not died, where do you think Big Pun would be now? Would he have been the most popular Latin rapper of all time?

Of course! I think he is already the most popular Latin rapper of all time. There never has been a better one in my opinion.

I see in recent pics that you have been losing weight and getting in shape. What advice can you give to our readers about steps you have taken?

Man, that hasn’t been easy. Just been doing the normal routine of working out and trying to cut down on the carbs is the best way I can describe it.

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