“I am a warrior. I am tough. I fight through all adversity. The great ones fought through adversity. I can name about 400 groups that came and went, even more, through the time of my struggle in hip-hop. Everybody counts me out every couple of years and I come back better than ever, bigger than ever.” Fat Joe
An originator and veteran rapper of Puerto-Rican and Cuban heritage, Fat Joe, born Joseph Antonio Cartagena, has found himself at the zenith of the rap game thanks largely to the massive hit “What’s Luv” (2002), tracks like “We Thuggin’” (2001) and the No. 1 classic “Flow Joe” (1993). Since making his debut with 1993’s Represent, Fat Joe has released the solo albums Jealous One’s Envy (1995), Don Cartagena (1998), Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E., 2001), Loyalty (2002), All or Nothing (2005), Me Myself & I (2005) and My World (2007). With Terror Squad, he has released a Terror Squad self-titled album (1999) and True Story (2004). Also an actor, Fat Joe has dotted his acting resume with roles in such films as I Like It Like That (1994), Whiteboyz (1999), Empire (2002) and director George Miller’s animated Happy Feet (2006).
In September 2004, Fat Joe made headlines when his former bodyguard, Jose Mulero, was arrested and charged with a 1994 killing which the rapper had purportedly witnessed. The New York Times reported that Mulero, 33, was accused of murder after being charged with gunning down Ernesto Rivera, 16, on April 15, 1994.
The Bronx native has a barbershop, a clothing store named Fat Joe’s Halftime, as well as manages a fashion line, FJ560. As for his married life, Fat Joe is the husband of Lorena and has two sons with her.
Childhood and Family:
Joseph Antonio Cartagena, who would later be popular as Fat Joe, was born on August 19, 1970, in The Bronx, New York, to Puerto-Rican and Cuban parents Ernesto Delgado and Marie Cartagena. As a youth, he became interested in the Zulu Nation culture and parties thanks to his brother, Angel, who frequently brought home tapes of the music played at these occasions. When he became older, Fat Joe developed a passion for hip-hop, rap, break dancing and graffiti. Before starting a professional music career, he was known in the world of drug dealing as Joey Crack, an alias that mirrored his increasing control and influence in the business.
Joe is married to Lorena. They have two sons, Joey and Ryan.
Fat Joe began his rap career after scoring a deal with Relativity Records. With the company, he became Fat Joe Da Gangsta and launched a debut album called Represent on July 27, 1993. Surprisingly, the album’s first track, “Flow Joe,” was a No. 1 hit and subsequently the singer became a sensation in the New York hip-hop scene. He went on to score success with his sophomore release, Jealous One’s Envy (1995), which debuted at No. 71 on the US Billboard 200 album chart. Produced by DJ Premier, the album attracted many, including fellow rappers L.L. Cool J and Raekwon, who invited fat Joe to work with them. The collaboration helped Fat Joe gain popularity.
With his growing fame, Fat Joe eventually landed a higher profile music contract with Big Beat/Atlantic Records. On July 14, 1998, he released Don Cartagena, a community conscious album that is often considered his best work yet. Consisting of tracks like “Don Cartagena,” “John Blaze” and “Bet Ya Man Can’t (Triz),” it reached No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and went gold. Lured by the success, Atlantic put newcomers Big Pun and the Terror Squad under his guidance. Both artists made significant improvements under Fat Joe’s wing with smash hits like “Feelin’ So Good.”
A tragedy struck Fat Joe’s life when protégé and best friend Big Pun suffered a deadly heart attack in 2000. That fact, combined with a sister in a coma, shook Fat Joe hard. Fortunately for Fat Joe, he overcame his stress and returned to his solo project on December 4, 2001, with the release of Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.), which raced up the Billboard 200 chart, landing at No. 21. The album’s back-to-back hits “We Thuggin’” (featuring R. Kelly) reached No. 15 in the US chart and “What’s Luv” (featuring Ashanti and Ja Rule) was a Top 2 in America and peaked at No. 4 in the UK charts. The latter song became one of the biggest pop hits in 2002. J.O.S.E. finally received platinum status in America and Loyalty, Fat Joe’s fifth album, followed on November 12, 2002. The gold album scored two minor hits with “All I Need” and “Crush Tonight” (featuring Ginuwine).
In 2004, after several roster changes and many years sabbatical following the release of a 1999 Terror Squad self-titled album, Fat Joe made his way back by releasing True Story. The single “Lean Back,” collaboration between Fat Joe and new member Remy Ma (formerly Remy Martin) ripped apart the charts, landing at No. 1 on the Billboard Singles Chart. Later, that same year, Fat Joe enjoyed another radio hit with his verse on Ja Rule’s ‘New York,” also featuring Jadakiss.
Fat Joe released his sixth solo album, All or Nothing, on June 14, 2005. The lead single, “So Much More,” featured an appearance by DJ Kay Slay in its music video. The second single, “Get It Poppin,” featuring Nelly and was used as the theme song for WWE 2005 SummerSlam. The same year, he also found himself singing the songs “Hold You Down” with Jennifer Lopez and “I Don’t Care” with Ricky Martin and Amerie. In November 2006, Fat Joe released Me Myself & I. It spawned the small singles “Make it Rain” (#30 U.S.) and “Breathe & Stop” (featuring The Game). My World, Fat Joe’s newest solo effort, will be released in the summer of 2007.
Apart from his rapping activities, Fat Joe has sporadically appeared as an actor. He made his debut as a biker inmate in the Black independent film I Like It Like That (1994), which he followed with performances in Thicker Than Water (1999), Urban Menace (1999), Marc Levin’s Whiteboyz (1999), Darnell Martin’s Prison Song (2001), Empire (2002, opposite John Leguizamo, Denise Richards and Isabella Rossellini) and Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon (2004). He also voiced Seymour in the animated film Happy Feet (2006), directed by George Miller, and served as director, writer and producer, as well as appeared as himself in 2002’s biography Still Not a Player.