Fat Joe Airs Out Terror Squad’s Dirty Laundry & Defends His Name (Video)
Fat Joe is one of Hip-Hop’s most controversial figures. The Bronx, New Yorker has roots in some of the hardest Rap music of the ’90s, starting with his ’93 debut, Represent. However, in the days after Big Pun’s sudden 2000 death, Joe stepped forward to become a mainstream giant, making smash hits with Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule, and others. While Joe Crack never stopped representing D.I.T.C. or Terror Squad, he accumulated a line of critics alongside his platinum plaques and accolades. That list included former T.S. hopeful Cuban Link, Big Pun’s widow Liza Rios, Remy Ma (entering her mid-2000s incarceration), and others. Meanwhile, from Jay Z to 50 Cent, Joe had high profile rivalries and very public tensions with Rap peers.
Following his game-changing interview with Jim Jones about the crumbling of his relationship with Cam’ron, Funkmaster Flex sits with Fat Joe for a two-hour, completely open Q&A. In this rare access interview, Joe begins with explaining why DJ Red Alert (who he calls the original Funk’ Flex) played such an important role putting him on with “Flow Joe” as a radio station promo. He explains how even with the platinum that others have not attained, why Joe is humble and always on time and respectful to his Diggin’ In The Crates band-mates. He discusses Lord Finesse’s role as a great MC and leader of a really important crew. With that, Joe says that Big Pun (who appeared on albums by Showbiz & A.G. and D.I.T.C.) was an extended branch on that family tree (13:00). Fat Joe says Punisher knew to never be late to a Show, Finesse, or other Diggin’ studio session, and humbled himself to the New York giants.
The discussion moves from one crew to another, as Joe discusses the earliest days of Terror Squad (17:00). In a white Lexus (which Joe vividly remembers paying $49,000 for), he recalled meeting Pun in the mid-’90s. Punisher (then known as “Moon Dog”) was on the corner with a mutual friend of theirs, Triple Seis, and Cuban Link. Joe broke Pun away from his crew, and said that he should reach back to support them, after he was on. Joe and Flex reminisce about Pun’s early appearance on 60 Minutes Of Funk, Vol. 1. While HOT 97’s mainstay DJ refused proteges and crew affiliates (Fat Joe uses Shyheim Da Rugged Child and King Just as examples of the kind of artists Flex was refusing for his gold-certified LP), Joe convinced the DJ at D&D Studios for the resulting “Freestyle” to happen.
This conversation grows to discuss T.S. Joe opens up about Cuban Link (41:00), and vehemently denies he ever slashed the MC’s face (at 50:00). That incident happened at Joe’s Café in 2001 during an Angie Martinez party. Instead, Joe asserts that he personally bought the Bronx MC a New Jersey home for a quarter of a million dollars, an Acura NSX, and secured him a deal with a $500,000 advance (an Atlantic-backed deal he says he got for other T.S. artists too). Joe describes Cuban’s shelved album, 24K, as featuring Neptunes production, a P!nk feature, and more…but Atlantic Records’ Chairman Craig Kallman allegedly did not believe it would sell more than 5,000 units. In turn, Joe worked Cuban Link more on his own, until the MC ultimately asked to leave Terror Squad. Joe explains that Cuban and he will never speak again, after all of the character assassination. He praises Armageddon (aka Geddy), Triple Seis, and others within that early iteration of Terror Squad. Joe says that he has put more artists on than his peers, and solemnly defends his name and reputation.
From Cuban to Liza Rios (42:50), Fat Joe takes all questions from Flex. The MC says he never recouped, nor did Big Pun from the Loud/RCA Records contract. Joe blames Pun’s lavish lifestyle, and speaks on first-hand experiences about how spouses can spend. He recalls investing money to set up a chain of salons for Pun’s widow after 2000, and assumes the money was misspent elsewhere. Joe details arriving to Pun’s heart attack at a White Plains, New York Crown Plaza hotel. He says that Liza and Cuban have started smear campaigns anytime Joe has released an album to feed his own family. The MC also opens up about his own depression, which led to alcoholism, food addiction, and a dazed period between 2000 and 2002.
Last month, on Funkmaster Flex’s freestyle platform, Pun’s son Chris Rivers rapped about the hardships the Rios Family has faced. “I goes hard, harder than life / Harder than when all you have from your Pops is jewelry and pawning the ice / To keep on the lights / I’d rather be in dark with the mice / With sentimental value / But Pops loved the old hood, so never left the old avenue / Where niggas would chain-snatch you / Yeah, thanks Pops. Had 3 home invasions / Ain’t saying it sarcastic, I needed the motivation,” spit the MC who is closely tied to Styles P and Pun producer Domingo. Recently, Rivers has been wearing Roc Nation caps, speculating to some, that he and Joe could be attached to the same management company.
After addressing Big Pun’s survivors’ struggles, Joe opens up about his own financial woes, despite reportedly having a $2 million emergency nest egg. The BX bomber explains scaling down his entourage, stopping private plane charters, and no longer assuming that money could not run out (he does later detail taking 50 Cent and girlfriend out in Miami on a $50 million yacht for a two couples day-retreat). Joe traces the transition in his life and career, and explains why Roc Nation is his best situation yet.
At 1:13:00, Fat Joe starts to discuss Remy Ma. The fellow Bronx native was Pun’s discovery, as Joe recalls her integration to Terror Squad right as Punisher passed. He explains Remy’s street cred, flashy persona before fame, and early aesthetic. By 1:13:00, Joe explains why the pair had a falling out after “Lean Back.” To Joe, it had large part to do with Loud Records evolution to SRC, and sale to Universal Records. Remy’s 2006 debut was not given the kind of push that Loud had given Pun and others, because it was no longer up to Steve Rifkind. Joe says he took the fall in dealing with an upset, young and wild Remy. Flex and Joe discuss Remy’s legal woes, and subsequent seven-year sentence. The de-facto leader of T.S. also remembers getting a reconciliation call from his estranged protege, and the long silence of a prison collect call.
In the closing minutes of the two-hour discussion (1:34:00) is where things truly get topical. Flex presses Joe about Remy’s monstrous “shETHER” diss to Nicki Minaj. At taping, March 2’s “Another One” follow-up had not yet been released. “If I say what I really believe, then I’m gonna get bashed by all the women in America. But I feel like women don’t get along, man. They all want to be the One,” Joe declares as to why this beef started in the first place. “I want to be clear and say that my sister’s (Remy Ma) the best female rapper on the planet earth, as we know, now. This is a unanimous decision. This is a unanimous decision: she is the best female rapper on earth, hands down!,” Joe touts, while also crowning Rem’ “The Queen of Hip-Hop” and “The Queen of Rap.” Here, Joe downplays Remy’s plans to diss the Young Money/Cash Money superstar, and saying so on The Breakfast Club. “The next thing you know, two songs come out. The Gucci [Mane] song [‘Make Love’] and another song came out, labeled ‘The Remy Diss.'” Flex concurs that the latter record was circulating behind the scenes, with a video shoot reportedly taking place. Joe says even still, he encouraged his Plato O Plomo partner to fall back and focus on the positives.
Flex alleges that Remy’s verse on 2016 Grammy-nominated hit “All The Way Up” was the sort of lyrics that could upset Nicki Minaj and others. Joe defends Remy, and reminds Flex that since 2010, Nicki “bullied” other MCs, including Lil’ Kim by name.
In many places, he declines to mention Nicki by name—only calling her “little girl.” Minaj dissed the first-week sales of Joe & Remy’s collaborative LP. After weighing in on that beef, and Nicki’s failure to respond yet (which he says is bad for Hip-Hop), Joe admits he believes Remy Ma has pushed ahead of Lauryn Hill as the best female MC. Clearly, Joe believes in his “sister” as much as he did 15 years ago, and beyond.
Elsewhere in the interview, Fat Joe says Roc Nation’s Shawn Pecas was instrumental to his coming to the management team. He apologizes to Ja Rule, Irv Gotti, and Murder Inc. for his armistice with 50 Cent (and says he hopes they can understand), and discusses how 1988’s The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick was paramount to his Hip-Hop love affair.