Hip-hop lovers know that a Fat Joe show is like a big house party onstage, a blowout celebration of life and its musical soundtrack. And it figures: The man otherwise known as Joseph Antonio Cartagena has worked with dozens upon dozens of superstar artists, including Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jennifer Lopez, Rick Ross, Thalia, Akon, Ja Rule, Ludacris, Nas, Diddy, Nelly, Busta Rhymes, R. Kelly … the list goes on. But he’s best known for his hit with Terror Squad, “Lean Back,” which stayed at No.1 on the Billboard pop charts for three weeks in 2004. Check out the Fat Joe concert experience Thursday night at Midtown Miami’s Ricochet Lounge, where he’ll perform all his biggest hits. He talked to Miami.com about the show, his weight-loss crusade, his love for the New York Knicks, and the status of his feud with rapper 50 Cent.
What can we expect from your show?
You know, I just try to make the people have a great time, and get ’em in the vibe of things. I mean, I made some of these people’s favorite songs – “What’s Luv?” People get married to “What’s Luv?” And some people love Fat Joe and J. Lo’s “Hold You Down” – this is like a big moment in their lives. So all I do is entertain and try to make sure people have a great time.
But you’ve gotta bust out “Lean Back” at some point, right?
Definitely you’re gonna hear it – how could you hear a Fat Joe show without “Lean Back”?
You’ve collaborated with so many great artists – will there be any surprise guests at your show?
Maybe – I mean, we’re in Miami and that’s my home. I live three minutes from Ricochet, and it’s like everybody and they mother be in Miami, so maybe we might bring some special invited guests.
How’s the new album coming along, and will we hear anything from that as well?
Oh, it’s going great – we dropped the Chris Brown song ["Another Round”] and it went No. 5 in the country, and now we got “Pride N Joy” with Kanye West out right now, and I’m about to drop a new single this week featuring Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky and French Montana. It’s called “Yellow Tape” – it’s just a real club thing, and we’re just trying to take it to like the old days when artists would drop four, five, maybe six singles before they drop an album. The new album is gonna be the Fat Joe collabo, so it’s not like your normal traditional album – it’s work I’ve been doing with my favorite artists. Rick Ross will be on there, and Mary J. Blige will be on there, Miguel, Trey Songz …
So will we hear any of that at the show?
Of course! We’re gonna have a great time, man. I enjoy performing even more than the people enjoy watching me perform. You know, I get no better satisfaction than watching people love the songs we created.
You grew up in the Bronx. When did you move to Miami?
Well, I live in Jersey and Miami. And I’ve been in Miami for about 12 years now.
So what attracted you here?
Beautiful weather, palm trees, the people treating me nice, a place to raise my kids. I just love everything about Miami.
But you’re still a Knicks fan, right?
All the way.
So how do you feel about the Heat?
I’m a Knicks fan all the way. You know, LeBron James – I wish him the best, but if you slit my wrists it’ll bleed orange and blue, no doubt.
How’s the weight-loss thing going?
Well you know I’m still on it, and it’s not even just about losing weight – it’s about trying to be extra-healthy. Working out, eating right – it’s important and it’s just a way of life now. Not only for me, but for my kids – now my daughter knows the difference between brown rice and white rice, and she’s only 6. She knows about sweet potatoes – you just gotta educate the kids. I go around a lot to schools, because childhood obesity is real big in the U.S., and a lot of kids are getting diabetes and related illnesses. So I just try to educate them on eating carbs and fried foods and what it does to you.
So are you gonna have to change your stage name?
You know, I look at my Twitter and all that, and everybody’s like, “He’s not Fat Joe no more – he gotta change his name.” But what can I do? I’ve been Fat Joe all my life. I can’t even think of a better name.
What’s been up with you and 50 Cent, and is it all over with?
It’s over with. He was discovered by the same guy I was discovered by – Chris Lighty – and I guess you could say we came to a mutual agreement to just let it die like that. That’s something Chris wanted. And I move on with my life and he moves on with his life, and it is what it is.