Fat Joe was born on August 19, 1970 in the South Bronx area of New York City, where he was raised by parents of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent. He lived in public housing and began stealing at a young age to support his family. He also admits that he was a bully in his childhood. His brother introduced him to rap music. As a teenager, he was highly influenced by fellow Latino rapper Big Pun. Fat Joe explained the rapper’s influence on him by saying “Latinos before us who had the opportunity to do it just didn’t know how to do it. They came in trying to do this black music, waving flags. [But] we’re trying to kick in the doors for other Latinos and represent our people, and it shows.”
Under stage name Fat Joe da Gangsta and part of the rap group D.I.T.C., Cartagena was signed to Relativity Records in the early 1990s, recording material and working with many artists who he would later sign to his own label. In 1993, his debut album, Represent, was released, featuring production from The Beatnuts, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, and others. Its lead single, “Flow Joe” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart; other minor singles from the album included “Watch the Sound” and “This Shit is Real”.
In 1995, Fat Joe released his second studio album, Jealous One’s Envy, which peaked at #71 on The Billboard 200 and at #7 on Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums. The album featured a guest appearance from KRS-One and production from Diamond D. The lead single was Success, which did not chart, but his second single, “Envy” peaked at #8 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. The success of this album led Fat Joe to be featured on the remix of LL Cool J’s single “I Shot Ya” along with Foxy Brown, Keith Murray and Prodigy of Mobb Deep.
Released in 1998, Don Cartagena was Joe’s third album and his first for Atlantic Records. It peaked on The Billboard 200 at #7 and #2 on Top R&B/Hip Hop albums, eventually being certified gold by the RIAA.
The album featured two hit singles “Bet Ya Man Can’t Triz”, and “Don Cartagena”. Guest appearances included Nas, Diddy, Big Pun, Raekwon, Jadakiss, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Within the album, Fat Joe debuted his own group Terror Squad that consisted of the late Big Pun, as well as Cuban Link, Triple Seis, Prospect, Armageddon and later Remy Ma. Joe himself acknowledged, in an interview with HipHopGame.com, that he has received criticism for releasing only one solo album by a former Terror Squad member, Remy Ma, as well as barely featuring original members Prospect and Armageddon on “True Story.” Terror Squad singer Tony Sunshine has had possible album release dates pushed back over three years, and Joe had stated that artists Prospect and Armageddon have not released solo albums yet as the result of them being “really lazy”. Former Terror Squad member Triple Seis also went on record when asked who had written Fat Joe’s lyrics, stating that he and Pun were Joe’s ghostwriters, and asserts that Joe continues to hire ghostwriters. In 1999, he appeared on Jennifer Lopez’s single “Feelin’ So Good” from her On the 6 album with late rapper Big Pun.
Fat Joe released his fourth album Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.) in 2001, featuring production from the then-popular Irv Gotti. The album featured a star-studded lineup from the likes of Ashanti, Ja Rule, N.O.R.E., Busta Rhymes, Petey Pablo, M.O.P., Ludacris, R. Kelly, Buju Banton, and artists from his Terror Squad label. The lead single “We Thuggin’” featuring R. Kelly was a big hit in late 2001, but would not reach the level of the Irv Gotti-produced “What’s Luv?” which was a massive hit in early 2002 and featured The Inc. superstars Ja Rule and Ashanti. The album was Fat Joe’s biggest hit as it was successful from its January release all the way into May, being certified platinum. However, Fat Joe’s fifth album Loyalty, released later in 2002 and featuring production from Irv Gotti, was not as successful.
In 2003, Fat Joe was featured in the pop single “I Want You” by Mexican singer Thalía. The same year, he and Tony Sunshine performed the single “Crush Tonight” from Loyalty on the Comedy Central program Chappelle’s Show, hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle.
Despite the setback, Fat Joe scored a number-one hit in 2004 with his group Terror Squad, collaborating with Remy Ma on the Scott Storch production “Lean Back” from the album True Story. The song was criticized twice by conservative columnist L. Brent Bozell III for its extensive use of obscenity. However, Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic called the song “a perfect club-ready duet between Joe and Remy Ma that boasts a trademark Scott Storch beat and a memorable singalong hook and dance-along step”. He then began recording material for Ivy Queen’s debut English-language album Real in support of her goal to compete in the world of English-language hip hop music.
Me, Myself & I, released in 2006, is Fat Joe’s seventh album. It was his first album released on his new deal with Virgin Records. It featured the hit single “Make It Rain” with southern rapper Lil Wayne, followed by “No Drama (Clap and Revolve)”. Fat Joe did a freestyle cipher segment for VH1’s “Freestyle 59” competition in October 2006 prior to the VH1 Hip Hop Honors featuring New Jersey emcee Neuse.
In June 2007, the Reverend Michael Pfleger targeted Fat Joe as among several rappers he believed promoted misogyny in his billboard campaign “Stop Listening to Trash”, which was launched June 18, 2007 throughout Chicago, Illinois, where Pfleger preaches. Also that month, Fat Joe was featured in the DJ Khaled singles “We Takin’ Over” alongside Akon, T.I., Rick Ross, Birdman, and Lil Wayne and the remix to Khaled’s “I’m So Hood” with Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Ludacris, and Birdman. Verbal disputes between Fat Joe and 50 Cent continued during this time period: in September 2007, on the BET program Rap City, 50 Cent accused Fat Joe of being cowardly for not willing to confront him, but Fat Joe dismissed this claim as nonsense. Later in January, 50 Cent released another Fat Joe diss, called “Southside Nigga (I’m Leaving)”. At the end of January 2008, Fat Joe and his longtime accountant Brian Dittrich both denied rumors spreading on the Internet that Fat Joe owed the IRS in taxes.
Fat Joe’s eighth solo studio album The Elephant in the Room was distributed by Imperial Records, a division of Capitol Records and Terror Squad Entertainment and released on March 11, 2008; its lead single was “I Won’t Tell” featuring singer J. Holiday. The album debuted at the sixth position on the Billboard Hot 100. “Ain’t Sayin’ Nuthin’” followed and featured Plies.
Fat Joe’s ninth solo studio album, J.O.S.E. 2, was released towards the end of June 2009. The project reprises the title of Joe’s 2002 RIAA-Certified Platinum release, Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.), and marked Joe’s third release since bringing his Terror Squad imprint to the EMI family in 2006. For this album, Joe has reached out to many artists, landing assists from Ron Browz, Fabolous, Lil’ Kim, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, and Akon. Producers include Jim Jonsin, The Inkredibles, and frequent collaborator StreetRunner. “One”, featuring Akon, was the first single. The album was released on October 6, 2009 and sold 11,000 copies in its first week. It debuted on The Billboard 200 at #73.
In January 2010, Fat Joe announced that he was working on a new album, The Darkside Vol. 1. MTV News reported that Fat Joe intended “all the material…to be much harsher” than his previous album. Production comes from The Alchemist, Cool & Dre, Streetrunner, DJ Premier, Scoop DeVille, Just Blaze, Scram Jones, Raw Uncut and DJ Infamous with guest appearances by Busta Rhymes, Trey Songz, Lil Wayne, R. Kelly, Clipse, Cam’ron, Rico Love, Too $hort, TA and Young Jeezy. The first single from The Darkside Vol. 1 is “(Ha Ha) Slow Down,” which features Young Jeezy. The second single off the album is “If It Ain’t About Money” and features Trey Songz.
On March 28, 2010 Fat Joe signed a record deal with E1 Music. The Darkside Vol. 1 was released on July 27, 2010 and sold approximately 12,000 copies in the first week and entered the Billboard 200 at #27.
On August 6, 2010 Fat Joe was interviewed on MTV RapFix Live by Sway. Fat Joe announced in the interview that he planned to record 2 more volumes of The Darkside and then retire.
Joe was featured on a remix to DJ Khaled’s song “Welcome to My Hood”, which also features Ludacris, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Twista, Mavado, Birdman, Ace Hood, Game, Jadakiss, Bun B and Waka Flocka Flame. It is included as the final track on Khaled’s fifth studio album We the Best Forever.
In an interview with XXL Magazine on September 21, 2011 Fat Joe stated The Darkside Vol. 2 is going to be his first ever official mixtape and will feature the Mark Henry produced songs “Massacre on Madison” and “Drop a Body”, both of which were released earlier in the year. Joe went on to say he is also working on an album which is yet to be named but the first single is called “Another Round” produced by Cool and Dre and Young Lad and features Chris Brown.
On October 19, 2011 “Another Round” the first single off Joe’s yet to be named eleventh studio album was released on iTunes. The second single released from the album is “Yellow Tape” which features Lil Wayne, ASAP Rocky and French Montana. In September 2012, Joe featured in Grammy awards winner Alejandro Sanz’s new album, La Música No Se Toca in a music named Down. Joe would then release another single, “Ballin’” on March 18, 2013. The song features Wiz Khalifa and Teyana Taylor.
Fat Joe joined D.I.T.C. for their album Sessions. The album was released in October 2016 and was preceded by the lead single “Rock Shyt”. He said he was going to work on a joint album with Remy Ma. The first single would be “All the Way Up” and features French Montana and Infared, which later peaked at #27 on the Hot 100, becoming his first top 40 hit in nearly a decade. They have shot the video and it was released on February 3, 2016. Joe could not explain what the album would be called saying, “I have the title, but we’re trying to see if we can legally use the title.” The album would be titled Plata O Plomo and was released in February 2017.
Remy Ma grew up in Castle Hill Projects in the Bronx, New York, and often saw the consequences and terrors of her family’s drug abuse with her own eyes. She was forced to take care of her little brothers and sisters at a young age and retreated from her home issues by writing poetry. Her reputation quickly grew around the Bronx and word eventually got to the late MC Big Pun of her and her work. After one meeting and a freestyle session, Pun immediately became her mentor.Ma made her first appearances in the music industry on Big Pun’s album Yeeeah Baby (under the name Remy Martin) on the tracks “Ms. Martin” and “You Was Wrong”.
After the death of Big Pun, rapper Fat Joe signed Smith to his imprint label under SRC and Universal and made her a member of Terror Squad. Following the success of Lean Back, which garnered Remy a Grammy nomination, Remy Ma released three singles from her debut album There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story; “Whuteva”, “Conceited” and “Feels So Good”. The album moved 37,000 units in its opening week and 158,000 units within the first year. The album received reviews from XXL Magazine with XL to Rolling Stone and Vibe Magazine.
In 2008, Papoose and his cousin stated that he and Remy Ma were to be married, but due to Ma’s impending prison sentence of potentially up to 15–25 years, the couple had changed their plans and intended to marry in her jail instead. Papoose whiled off in jail, but the wedding was called off for one day after he allegedly attempted to smuggle a key into the jail on their wedding day in May 2008. After the incident, Ma married Papoose the next day inside the courtroom right before sentencing and he was barred from visiting her for six months.
During an interview with Funk Flex in July 2012, Remy Ma announced that in 22 1/2 months she would be released. In February 2014, her husband Papoose confirmed that Remy should be released during July 2014.On August 1, 2014 Remy Ma was released from prison after serving six years.
In 2015, Remy Ma joined the cast of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York for its sixth season.
Fat Joe revealed that he and Remy Ma were releasing a joint album,”Plata O Plomo”.
She is currently recording her sophomore album “Seven Winters, Six Summers” and third album “PunisHer” back to back as well as her next collaboration album as part of the all-female rap supergroup 3Sum, alongside female rappers Shawnna and Jacki-O.