|by Thato Dadson
WHO?MAG: How did you first get into rhyming?
FAT JOE: Well I used to look up to my brother and he was rapping and well monkey see monkey do. I just feel in love with it and started rapping.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about “Flow Joe” and the impact it had.
FAT JOE: It saved my life. Diamond D produced it. We did it in his apartment. That record right there was just me expressing myself with everything in my life and what I coming to the game with and it went to number 1 on the rap singles chart. And yeah it saved my life.
WHO?MAG: My favorite song was always “Firewater” when I had it on the B-side on a cassette single. What made you pick the line up?
FAT JOE: Well you know that was Pun, Armageddon, and Raekwon. You know I always work with people I admire and respect and I guess that was the hottest line up I could come up with at the time.
WHO?MAG: How did “Diggin In The Crates” come about and how did you become part of the crew?
FAT JOE: Well, Showbiz used to DJ. Diamond D also DJ’d. Lord Finesse was my little man from the projects. He always said was going to get a deal and become a rapper and we never believed him. He opened the door for everybody because after him one by one we opened the do for each other. And that’s basically how the group came together.
WHO?MAG: How influential was the Bronx for you as an emcee?
FAT JOE: Well that’s the mecha of hip hop. So as a kid I saw it growing up in front of it. I got to see Grandmaster Flash play soft ball in front of me. It was great seeing all these groups being from the same place I was from. So it heavily influenced me a lot. And it also gives me a great deal of pride being from the Bronx.
WHO?MAG: How did you meet Big Pun and what was your impression of him?
FAT JOE: Well I met him walking out of a bodega in the Bronx. And these guys were rapping and then all of a sudden this big Spanish guy started rapping. Now lyrically he said the hottest stuff, but I looked at him now how are we gonna have a fatter Puerto Rican be successful in hip hop. It was a bit of a challenge when I first looked at him, but lyrically he was better than everybody.
WHO?MAG: What is your fondest moment of Big Pun?
FAT JOE: Brotherhood, Being good friends, Loyalty. He was a very loyal and beautiful person.
WHO?MAG: I heard initially Big Pun wanted to be a singer and not an emcee. Is that true?
FAT JOE: No I never heard that. Now he did love RnB music, but I never heard that.
WHO?MAG: What is your fondest moment of the late Big L?
FAT JOE: He would talk so much s#!t and he would threaten me like he said if I came at him he would take my fans. I feel if he didn’t pass away he would be a giant in the game.
WHO?MAG: Talk about the song “The Enemy” you did with Big L produced by DJ Premier. How did the song come about? How was it working with DJ Premier?
FAT JOE: Big L was doing his album and I had just gone gold and he had dared me and threatened me to do the song with him. I did it with him and Primo did the beat. I have to say it was my favorite track to do because he was a funny dude he would say” Joe I’m gonna take all your fans on this track so you better step your game up.” It’s always an honor to work with DJ Premier because he’s very good at what he does and he’s very selective on whom he works with.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about D&D Allstars and the video shoot?
FAT JOE: That was classic record. Even Jay-z sampled that record on his first album. Everybody used to work at D&D. That was the hottest studio in New York and they decided to make a compilation and asked me to be on it. Til’ this day, it’s a classic!
WHO?MAG: Talk about what inspired you to do the “Deep Cover” remake and the video shoot?
FAT JOE: Well you know I was bringing big pun into the game and we knew we had to do a song together which was New York enough, but also get love on the west coast. We figured it was the first time people heard Snoop Dogg, so why not let it be the first time they heard Big Pun. We had so much fun with the video shoot. We did it in the Bronx. We had the Donnie Brasco theme.
WHO?MAG: Talk about the song “John Blaze” and the video shoot?
FAT JOE: Well you know I love collaborating with some of my favorite artists. We had Pun, Nas, Raekwon, and Jadakiss and the track came out crazy! On the shoot day I got really nervous because Nas came really late. We thought he wasn’t gonna be able to make, but overall it was a lot of fun.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new album “Darkside Vol #1”.
FAT JOE: Well, it’s a lot of the stuff we’ve been talking about. Early Joe Crack. The fans kept on blogging and talking to me at the shows saying we love and we support you, but we want some of that Fat Joe the gangster. So this is me giving the fans some of that early Joe Crack.
WHO?MAG: How was it working with the late Apache?
FAT JOE: It was an honor to have him on my first album. He was a real beautiful person and he was great to work with and he is missed.
WHO?MAG: Being a Bronx native and Puerto Rican what are your thoughts on Salsa music and have you ever thought about working with Willie Colon since he’s also from the Bronx?
FAT JOE: Willie Colon he is a living legend. Salsa music is some of the most beautiful music in the world in my opinion. And what’s funny is he asked me to work with him about 15 years ago, but we never followed through.
WHO?MAG: What advice would you give to up and coming rappers?
FAT JOE: I would say stay grinding. Remember things never happen overnight. Make sure you learn the business so if you do make it no one can take advantage of you.
WHO?MAG: Did you ever feel discriminated against in the industry because you were Latino?
FAT JOE: Nah, never. Everybody has always embraced me with open arms.
WHO?MAG: What do you remember about working with Gangstarr on the song “We Got Gunz” Feat. MOP?
FAT JOE: You know whenever you’re with DJ Premier, it’s an honor and then working with Gangstarr was always an honor working with those guys. I looked up to them a lot.
WHO?MAG: Any cool stories about working with Guru that others may not know?
FAT JOE: We used to talk until about 8 in the morning just talking about hip hop and life. He was a cool dude.
WHO?MAG: What’s next for Fat Joe?
FAT JOE: Darkside July 27th. Lil Wayne, R. Kelly, Clipse, Too Short, Young Jeezy, Trey Songz plus more are on that album. So make sure you get a copy of that.