Fat Joe Unsung Tells The Story Of 1 Of Hip-Hop’s Most Enduring Superstars (Video)
Since 1993, Fat Joe has been a mainstay in Hip-Hop. In a genre that cycles through stars every few years and considers artists from as recently as 10 years ago, “Old School,” his longevity is miraculous. Time and again, Joe has re-invented himself, going from Joey Crack to R&B Rap to leader of the Terror Squad to an epic fall only to rise “All The Way Up” again.
Despite being one of the few artists in any genre to remain relevant for nearly a quarter of a century, Joseph Cartagena is rarely mentioned when people talk about Hip-Hop’s all time greats. With 8 Top 10 albums on the charts and hits that range from club bangers to street anthems to ballads, he quite possibly might be the most underrated MC of all-time. Thanks to the latest episode of TV One’s music documentary series, however, Fat Joe is no longer Unsung.
The 30-minute documentary starts from the earliest days in Joe’s life, detailing his coming of age in The Bronx, NY at the same time as Hip-Hop’s rise. Joe’s transition from a street tough and gang leader to a hardscrabble underground rapper is also explained. Discovered by Diamond D, music was literally an escape for Joe that may have saved his life. Working with Diamond and his Diggin’ in the Crates crew, Joe crafted a tough sound and image that channeled the energy that he’d previously released in the streets.
After his first album, Joe’s sound quickly changed. His love for R&B is cited as the reason for the evolution of his sound to soften and embrace more melody. The change would catapult his career to new levels of success, as he crafted hit records with Puff Daddy, J. Holiday, Ashanti and Ja Rule. His affiliation with the latter drew him into a decades-long feud with 50 Cent, Rule’s arch nemesis, even though Joe and 50 shared the same manager in Chris Lighty. Lighty’s death would lead to a reconciliation between Fif and Joe that has blossomed into a real friendship.
The episode also depicts Joe’s prowess as a business man. His professional and personal relationship with Big Pun, whom Joe discovered, is explored in great detail. The documentary also shows the ups and downs of Joe’s relationship with Remy Ma. Though she was initially discovered by Pun, it would be her affiliation with Joe on records like “Lean Back,” and more recently, “All The Way Up,” that would propel her to new heights. Ironically, despite Joe’s acumen, his inattention to his affairs would ultimately land him in prison for tax evasion.
The show features several key participants, including Joe’s wife and other family members, Diamond D, Remy, 50, and others who have been involved in his career over the last two decades. Unlike many Unsung episodes, Joe is not at the sunset of his career. He is coming off one of his biggest years ever, and, with a recent signing to Jay Z’s Roc Nation management, shows no signs of slowing. It’s one of the many reasons that make his story so remarkable.