What can you say about Joey Crack aka Fat Joe? He started off as Da Gangsta and moved into commercial success with the likes of Nelly and Ashanti. After parting ways with Atlantic, some people might have written him off commercially. You might want to think again, with “Me, Myself, and I” dropping November 14th independently on Terror Squad Records, Joe sounds rejuvenated. The lead single is tearing up the airwaves nationwide along side Lil Wayne. Joe has nothing more to prove in the underground or above and according to the man this is “the best and purist Fat Joe album” he could have come up with. I got a chance to chat with Fat Joe about the album, getting out from under Atlantic and the state of hip-hop. You might be surprised with what Crack had to say.
What’s up man, how are things?
I’m in the building man, I’m just here. Been promoting this new LP November 14th “Me, Myself and I” is an incredible body of work.
So outside of music, what else have you been working on?
I’m always doing everything. Always venturing off and doing lots of things but really music is my life.
The album is called “Me, Myself, and I”, do you feel like it’s all on you at this point?
It’s always on me. If I don’t show up the cliche “you’re as good as your last hit” is true. No one wants to hear what you did last year or 2 years or 3 years or 5 years before, they want to hear what is popping right now. It’s always on me. The reason I named the album “Me, Myself, and I” is because I went in the room and locked myself up and came up with the best and purist Fat Joe album I could. None of my friends, no critics, nobody giving me advice or trying to second guess, it’s just me I have to stay true to myself and let the pen go.
You have had success commercially and in the underground, which Fat Joe are we going to hear on this album.
You are going to hear all of Fat Joe. The truth is you are going to hear more of the Diggin in the Crates, early Fat, Gangsta Fat Joe.
Personally, that’s the Joe I want to hear.
This album is real hard. With the new situation where I am doing my album independent, it allows me to market my music creatively and aggressive at the same time. It allows me to make the kind of music I want. I’m making music for my core audience and I feel that is the kind of music that they really love me for. That’s why they have stuck with me through thick and thin.
Since you are doing this independent and you had the deal with Atlantic, what exactly happened?
I was real cool with Atlantic and I’m still cool with them. Brothers like Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Rap-a-Lot have been doing it independent since jump. Coming from the south they do it independent and then the majors decide to pick them up. I was kicking it with J Prince (of Rap-a-Lot) speaking on how he was getting seven dollars a record and owning their own masters and I was like what? I had been with Atlantic for 10 years on an artist deal. I would get that nice advance but only receive 80 cents on a record, and of course you never recoup. So I stepped to Atlantic and said I want to go independent and get that seven dollars a record. They came back with we got you for 80 cents a record, why would we give you the seven? So I was like, I have to leave.
So they let me go and we had the biggest independent bidding deal in the universe and landed at Imperial Virgin distribution.
So the album is coming out independent, but still has the major distribution
Yeah, that’s exactly why we went with Virgin. We have major label backing; it will be in all the stores and have the price positioning. They have a strong team internationally and it was just better than going with a smaller distributor.
The first official single is “Make It Rain” feat Lil Wayne; you caught a lot flack from hip-hop heads for a Nelly collabo, what has been reaction to working with Wayne thus far?
(Laughs) You know my fans; they liked the record with Nelly but the timing and the beef with 50 I think they wanted to hear me come out hard. I was thinking home run at the time and coming out with hits. It is what it is and that record is still a hit record in its own right.
The record was still a monster.
As far as Lil Wayne goes, he’s my favorite rapper in the game today I respect him musically, flow wise, concept wise, I’m a big fan of Wayne’s. Me and him did the joint and you still hear little mumbles in New York. Most people love it but some people keep asking why is Joe rhyming on a south beat. They never ask Jay-Z why he was “Big Pimpin” or ask why 50 Cent sounds like he’s from Alabama when he’s from Queens. What bugs me out; I’m in nobody’s top 10 of the best of all time. I’m always criticized, but if you don’t care about Fat Joe why are you so concerned with what I’m doing? I’m here and I’m relevant. I think I mean more to people and more to hip-hop then they lead themselves to believe.
You can stay underground forever.
I like to make music for everybody and continue to grow.
We have heard that you have a song featuring Game, with both of your beef’s with 50, is this a diss record at all?
It’s not a diss record. I might have taken a jab or two at him, but it’s not like a “fuck you 50″ song. It’s actually a dope song and doesn’t really have much to do with 50. I had to stick the jab out one time being that Game was on the song and Joe was on the song I had to take a smack at him one time and then back to the regular scheduled program.
So who produced the record with Game?
What else can you tell us about “Me, Myself, and I”? Any other guest appearances or production credits?
I got a song with this young boy out of the Bronx named H Mobb, he’s dumb nasty and it’s called “She’s My Mama”. We have production from Scott Storch, Khaled the Beat Novakane, LV who is really killing them right now. We have Streetrunner an up and coming producer and The Runners. I went into to so many different zones on this record. I got 2 songs with Wayne, one called “The Prophet” that Khaled produced, it’s a street banger.
You have seen the ups and downs of hip-hop, and you have had success on a major level as well as love in the underground. Where do you see hip-hop going?
I’ve never seen down.
(Laughs) You don’t think it’s down right now?
Hell no, I don’t think it’s down. (sings “Chain Hang Low”) Your man Chingy is winning (sings “Pullin Me Back”) how can you say it’s down?
Big difference between that and hip-hop.
Naw, that’s hip-hop man. That’s the problem right now. The thing about hip-hop music is that is so diverse. If we did just one style of music, then hip-hop would end. Guys like you who write and criticize; you can’t wait for a DITC album or a Black Moon album. Music moves on and if you don’t move and adapt with the times, you become a mad hip-hop fan. It’s never coming back to the days we want it to come back to. Should we be mad that they are progressing in the south or on the west, whatever the case maybe? I’m not one of those guys; I think that hip-hop has to grow. Of course there are some wack records out there, but there is no way that hip-hop is dying. The reason you love the kind of hip-hop you love is the same reason there is some little kid out there that loves inside peanut butter outside jelly.
You see what I’m saying.
Of course, but when I came up I was taught about hip-hop, I was taught about Busy Bee and Krs.
Yeah it was that good shit, we were special we were in the golden era.
That’s the thing nowadays nobody is teaching kids about the past, most people think Fat Joe’s first hit was “What’s Luv”.
Believe me, most think it was “Lean Back” (Laughs)
For real, there are mad kids who think it was “Lean Back”.
Where do you see hip-hop going?
I see it going and growing and moving to a different place. It will go back to New York and then back to Cali, it is what it is. We can’t stop what is inevitable and we can’t stop where it’s going. The south guys are doing it right now, I love Young Jeezy and I think Lil Wayne is the best guy doing it right now. I love Rick Ross and what Ludacris is doing, I can’t hate on them. The sound changed a little; if the sound hadn’t changed we would get stuck in one zone.
Do you think there will ever be another period like the early 90′s?
You know what….no. Not only is not what’s popping right now musically, it’s a whole different sound a whole different attitude. We were having fun at that time and right now everybody wants to kill their mother. Politics in hip-hop won’t allow that to win. At that time people were doing out of love and labels were just putting music out and it was for the love. They would make a little bit of money and they were happy. Once that millions and billions got into hip-hop and it turned to a business. They preferred commercial success over the kind of hip-hop you and I grew up on and we love. They won’t allow that to win, they won’t allow it to win. They’ll give you one or two. They’ll let you get away with a Kanye here and there. They will give you a look at it, but they won’t allow you win. They want the commercialization. If you don’t make a record about girl then it’s not getting any spins on the radio, it’s a simple as that. The only person in the world that gets away with killing people and putting his wife in the trunk all day on radio is Eminem. Other than that, you can’t get away with it.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring emcees, what would it be?
Study all formats of hip-hop. Study gangsta rap, study funny rap. Study guys making music for the clubs and study guys making music for the girls. Study real lyricists like Rakim and Krs-One, then go into your chamber and see what you can bring out of it. I’ll bet creatively you can make the kind of music you want to make.
Are we ever going to see a DITC reunion?
I would wish. I spoke to Finesse last week and I did two songs for Diamond D’s new album. AG has a new album out right now. Those are my brothers, the minute they say let’s go, I’ll go.
All the heads are really waiting for that.
I’m with that, 1 million percent.
So what’s next for Fat Joe?
I’ve got Tony Sunshine coming out, R&B album he’s incredible and it will be coming out in March. We moved him off of Jive to UBO and we did a joint venture. Everybody sleeps on Tony, but his album is crazy. I’m going start working on a new Terror Squad album, where I’m going to bring out some fresh legs, some guys I have been working with and developing and give them their debut on the new Terror Squad compilation.
November 14th, support that real hip-hop. Joe Crack.
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