What’s going on, buddy? I appreciate the interview. I’m feeling great. It’s all love. I’m just on a major promotions run, just working crazy.
How has the promo run been going so far?
It’s crazy. It’s nothing I’m not used to. I’m just kissing the babies and getting the word out.
How do you feel about Me, Myself and I?
I’m really, really excited about this album here. I have my fans and my team that advises me on what to do and what not to do. This time I went into the zone by myself. This is the purest Fat Joe album since Jealous Ones Envy. I’m really, really, really excited with this. At the same time, I’m able to make a different kind of music. I’m independent and I’m able to get real creative and do that classic Fat Joe material. When major labels give you a million dollars, they kind of steer you into making certain records. Right now I’m able to make the kind of music I want to.
Would you say this is more street than your last album, All or Nothing?
Yeah. This is way more street. That’s what I love to do. At the same time, I’ve been in the game 13 years. The only way I’ve been able to survive is by listening to the fans. They said they loved “Get It Poppin’” with Nelly but they wanted a harder, more early Fat Joe. When I go on tour and I see some of my most consistent, best fans, they tell me they want me to come back with that hard shit. I have to go in that zone.
Why did you want to move from Atlantic to EMI?
I told Atlantic that I wanted to go independent. When you’re on a major and you go platinum, they’re still looking at you like you owe them something. They’re looking at you like you’re a failure. If I sell 400,000 there, I’m a failure. If I go independent on that and keep my masters and make $7 an album and sell that, I make $4.5 million. It was the best mathematic business decision for me to make. I’m also able to market and promote the way I want to. I don’t have a record label breathing down my neck telling me what the radio stations are going to play. The fans say they want my hard stuff. Now we’re going to see if they really want it. I went in the zone for this one.
Are you happy with how “Clap and Revolve” did this summer?
It wasn’t a single. It was more of a street leaker to let people know that I’m coming. It was more of a street leaker. People embraced it.
How’s your single “Make it Rain” with Lil’ Wayne doing?
It’s doing great. The thing about going independent is you can make a lot of money but it’s set up for you to fail. That’s why a lot of independent artists fail. I have fans and I have an interest in me. We were added to BET and MTV and Fuse, basically all the video channels and the record got 1,000 spins in a week and a half. I’m excited.
The beat was very Southern and you have the grill now too. What’s going on?
I’m a diehard New Yorker. I just embrace all types of hip-hop culture. If the West Coast came out with a hot hat, I would wear that. I would support that. I look at hip-hop as a universal movement. I don’t look at it like “I like Ludacris because he’s from Atlanta” or “I like Game because he’s from the West Coast.” I look at it like, “Damn, they make hot music.” I embrace all regions. We’re all one culture. The thing about hip-hop is that we’re so diverse.
Do you worry about fans misinterpreting those moves?
I hope I got the word out enough that I do appreciate what they do and I am showing them love. That doesn’t change who I am. My album is straight up Joe Crack, Bronx, New York representative.
You also spend a lot of time in Miami. How do they treat you down there?
I love it and they show me much love. They embrace me and I embrace them. Coming from the projects and poverty to going somewhere where there’s palm trees and the birds sing a little nicer, I can’t complain.
Can the Heat repeat this year?
I’m hoping the Knicks can make it to the playoffs.
You’ve done a lot throughout your career from Diggin’ in the Crates to working with Nelly. Do you still consider yourself an underground MC?
Absolutely. I consider myself an underground MC with aspirations of being a superstar. I’m hardcore underground by birth but at the same time, I’m out to be a superstar.
How’s your relationship with Remy Martin today?
She’s all right. I get upset with how her album was promoted and the sales. I agree with her that she’s the best female rapper in the game. I’m as frustrated as her. I went to Universal and argued with them a million times and told them they weren’t spending the marketing dollars or promoting the right record. I argued until I was blue in the face. There is nothing I can do at this point. When she expresses her frustrations, I agree with her. I just think she screamed at the wrong person.
When I interviewed Remy, she said she can say things to you that no one else can and get away with it. What type of relationship do you have with her?
We’re like brother and sister. We’ve been friends for many years and we shared a lot of time together. We bonded together and we grew together. She could say certain things. Of course she’s a female so she really gets away with it. No one likes to hear guys talk shit to a girl.
Are there any problems between you and Remy right now?
What happens is Remy Ma is like a boss. She said she wanted to do this album so I gave her the space she wanted. Then she started flipping and saying that I didn’t spend enough time with her. I thought I did what I wanted.
Remy has said that Terror Squad doesn’t exist anymore. Is that true?
Terror Squad does exist. Tony Sunshine has an album coming out in March. The other two guys in Terror Squad don’t work. Prospect writes one rhyme a year and Armageddon does one song a year. At the end of the day, if you own a bodega, you have to bring in sodas and milk to sell. We’re in the business of selling music. They don’t make mixtapes or songs. What do you want me to do? I held them down for so long. They’re saying “Fat Joe wants his own shine.” The truth of the matter is I took matters into my own hands because I was surrounded by a bunch of guys who were really lazy. Remy is successful and she’s where she’s at because she worked really hard. If these guys would have worked hard, because they’re both talented, and took the opportunity she took, these guys would have had successful careers.
Are you ready to start a new TS album?
I am. I did every song on the last album. I am ready. We’re just going to bring some new blood and take it from there.
Is a Diggin’ in the Crates reunion any closer to happening?
We’re still here. I just spoke to Finesse last week and I did two songs with Diamond for his new album. I’m letting them know I’m ready to go. Back in the days they were way better than me and now my skills are up. I’m ready to get it on.
Are you going to do any new songs with Primo?
Of course. Primo’s my brother. The dude is fucking with Christina Aguilera now! He’s with Christina Aguilera! I begged him for a beat on this album but he’s always busy.
Did you hear the rumor that he’s getting work with Whitney Houston?
Yeah? That’s incredible. I would love to hear that. God bless him. He’s a hard worker and a talented brother. I would love to hear that. He’s doing pop culture. Are we going to be mad at Primo if he gets successful now? It seems like the game has a way of doing that. They want you to stay underground and unsuccessful and once you blow up, it’s like you shitted on the culture. Think about it.
Do you see that happening with Premier?
Eventually. Some fucking websites are going to start that. Remember I told you. If he does one more artist like Whitney Houston, watch for it. It’s wack. Everybody should be allowed to grow and make music.
Last time we spoke, you were working out a lot. Are you more health-conscious today?
I’m conscious about what I’m eating and I try to work out as much as possible. On this little promo run here, I’m working 22 hours a day and sleeping two. Until this album comes out, I don’t see a breath of fresh air so I have to really watch what I eat. I’ll have to eat lettuce for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Have to eat that rabbit food!
Did you get the Jordan 5 grapes?
I got the grapes with the “TS” on them.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I need everyone to support that real hip-hop. Just because you heard one Dirty South song, don’t say Fat Joe is going South. You loved Jay-Z when he did “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” or “Is That Your Bitch?”. You still love 50 Cent even though he talks like he’s from Alabama and he’s really from Queens, New York. Stop finding reasons to criticize Fat Joe. Please buy the album.