‘I Might’ve Been The First Lizzo!’: Fat Joe Looks Back - DMT NEWS

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‘I Might’ve Been The First Lizzo!’: Fat Joe Looks Back

Every time Fat Joe has come back from a career brink with an unexpected hit song – and it’s been quite a few times – he’s as shocked as anyone. “Oh, I’m always surprised,” he says. “It’s like you’re in the middle of the ocean, looking for oxygen. I’m dying and outta nowhere the record comes, boom! This happened to me about four or five times!”

Fat Joe’s new autobiography, The Book of José (co-written by veteran journalist Shaheem Reid), covers all of his career ups and downs, as well as many jaw-dropping, Goodfellas-worthy tales of near-death experiences from his days as a teenage hustler in the Bronx, and his stay in prison on tax charges (he has always blamed an errant accountant). In the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Fat Joe looks back at all it.To hear the entire interview, listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or press play above.

At age 52, he’s conflicted about about retirement from hip-hop. “I think I’ve retired from rap, to be honest with you,” says Fat Joe, who’s involved with multiple TV projects, including a Showtime show based on his book. “But ‘retire’ is a big word and I’m still better than everybody, so there’s no need for me to retire. [Funkmaster] Flex called me out the other day for a freestyle. I gave him some shit to shock the world.”

He has fond memories of his shirtless video for “What’s Luv?,” his 2001 hit with Ashanti and Ja Rule. “I went out there with no shirt on,” he says. “Fuckin’ America loved it. I might have been the first Lizzo. I came out that motherfucker and they lost it. Sales started going up. Everything was rising to the top.”

He knew he was torching his career when he sided with Ja Rule and Irv Gotti – who brought Joe in for ‘What’s Luv?” – when 50 Cent, then the hottest young rapper alive, began feuding with them. “When everybody else else ran away from them,” says Joe, “I stood closer because of my loyalty, and them helping my career, saving my life at the time. I go down with the ship. You had to pick a side. If you did business with 50 who was the rising biggest rapper in the world, you couldn’t do business with Fat Joe.”

Michael Jordan himself called him to a cancel a Fat Joe sneaker after Fat Joe and 50 Cent’s feud went public at the 2005 VMAs. “I get the call like ‘Big Joe, yo, I’m not into all that controversy,'” says Fat Joe, who writes of losing at least 20 million dollars because of the incident. “It’s different now. I watch how [DJ] Khaled designs his sneaker and he meats with the design team. [Back then], it was Michael Jordan in the meeting. Michael Jordan was the coolest in the world. He still is. He just ain’t into the controversy.”

He thinks his old friend DJ Khaled faces too much disrespect. “He knows how to put the music together, structure it,” says Joe. “He knows what a hit is sonically, he knows the right artists to do it. These artists would never even work with other [without him]. So let’s not take away from his credit. He’s a fucking legend.”

He had to convince his friend and discovery Big Pun to put his classic “dead in the middle of Little Italy…” rhyme into “Twinz (Deep Cover ’98)” “He didn’t even want to do it on ‘Deep Cover,'” Joe says. “It was a joke to him. I forced him – ‘I’m telling you Pun…’ but I didn’t know it was that legendary.”

He blames Pun’s ill health, which led to his death in 2000, on youth and ignorance. “We just didn’t know no better,” says Joe, who went into a two-year-long depression after Pun’s death. “I was right behind him. So Pun was like 600 pounds. I was like 400 or 500 or some wild shit. We didn’t know. We were young. We thought you live a good life, you eat, you reward yourself with food. To this day, I have issues with food, but not like that. Like, I would die. I can’t eat like that no more. But it’s a shame man, because we knew nothing about nutrition. We knew nothing about nothing… I kept beating myself up. What could I have done? Could I have made him lose weight? Could I have stopped him? That’s real painful, to watch my best friend die.”

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out six years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, the National, Ice Cube, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many others — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters.



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Brian Hiattt, Khareem Sudlow