They say good things come to those who wait. For over ten years, Fat Joe has patiently waited for his opportunity to be recognized as one of the greats in the world of hip-hop. Through years of hard work and dedication, Fat Joe has made his mark on music, film, clothing, and urban culture. From his humble beginnings on the bullet-riddled streets of the Bronx to orchestrating the rise of the late, great Big Pun to making a whole nation "Lean Back" in 2004, Fat Joe has run the gamut of music business. Now, he is enjoying the fruits of his labor at last with the release of his new Atlantic album, "ALL OR NOTHING."
Born and raised a product of hip-hop's birthplace, Fat Joe (Joseph Cartagena) lived and breathed the Bronx. The tough-as-nails demeanor that comes with growing up in crime- ridden streets, amidst the raging crack epidemic of the 80's, infused Joe's debut album, "REPRESENT," released in 1993 on Relativity Records. Praised for its strong production, the album introduced the world to 200-plus pounds of raw aggressive rap, and held such rap classics as "Flow Joe" and the DJ Premier-produced title track. As the only Latino rap artist on the East Coast scene, this tenacious Puerto Rican/Cuban represented a demographic that had been yearning for a voice they could call their own.
Two years later, Joe got a second chance to show the world his potential with the release of his sophomore set, "JEALOUS ONE'S ENVY." The album found Joe aiming for higher plateaus with singles like "Success" and "Envy." As he set his sights on advancing further into hip-hop dominance, he stumbled upon his greatest asset, and his name was Big Punisher.
Soon after placing Big Pun on "Watch Out" (on "JEALOUS ONE'S ENVY"), the entrepreneur in Joe came out in order to ensure that Pun didn't endure what Joe did on his rise to the top. In 1997, Fat Joe executive produced Big Pun's debut album, "CAPITAL PUNISHMENT." It became the first ever multi-platinum album by a Latino rap artist. By the time "CAPITAL..." had been nominated for a Grammy, Joe was gearing up for his most critical album to date, "DON CARTAGENA."
Fat Joe's first album for Atlantic Records, "DON CARTAGENA" debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart upon its release in 1998. Powered by the Puff Daddy-laced title track, the album sold over 500,000 copies, earning Joe his first RIAA gold plaque. Joe's hard work was well on its way to paying off, but there was a price to pay. In February of 2000, his friend Big Pun suffered a fatal heart attack, which found hip-hop music losing one of its brightest personalities and Joe one of his best friends.
As the hip-hop world mourned the loss, many cast doubt on Joe and the future of his now established crew, The Terror Squad. As some members defected and skeptics rejoiced, Joe poured his heart into what many called his best album to date, "JEALOUS ONES STILL ENVY (J.O.S.E.)." Released in December 2001, the album's first single was the top five Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop hit, "We Thuggin'" featuring R. Kelly. This was followed by the powerhouse track, "What's Luv?," which featured the debut of R&B princess Ashanti. Reaching #2 on the Billboard "Hot 100," the song helped expose Joe to a new audience. As a result, "J.O.S.E." not only gave Fat Joe another top ten album, but earned him his first RIAA platinum award.
The past few years have found Joe catapulting to the top of the hip-hop elite. But when his fifth album, 2002's "LOYALTY," failed to attain the platinum status of "J.O.S.E.," the world once again cast doubt on Joe's ability to be perceived as one of the greats. And the stage was set for the climactic statement that would once and forever earn Joe the widespread acclaim he had long deserved. With hip-hop music obsessed with the Crunk sounds of the South and the sample heavy sounds of the Midwest, Fat Joe - with his Terror Squad in tow - brought the New York state of rhyme back to the forefront with the infectious single, "Lean Back." Produced by Scott Storch (Dre, Beyoncé, Eminem, Christina Aguilera), the single took the music world by storm. It became Joe's first # 1 single atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
For 2005, Joe is set to continue his dominance with his most anticipated release to date, the aptly titled "ALL OR NOTHING." On his sixth outing, Joe combines his aggressive style with powerhouse producers like Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Scott Storch, and Cool & Dre. "This whole album is different for me," attests a proud Joe. "I feel like I'm at the prime of my game. I felt like I wanted to do something different. I wanted to give the fans something different. I came with different types of concepts and different flows for this album, so I used a lot of different style of beats to make sure it worked."
The album's lead-off street track, "Safe 2 Say," was produced by Roc-A-Fella soundman Just Blaze, and set the street on high alert for the release of Joe's latest opus. "I feel like my lyrics and my music have elevated once again with this album. Every time I do an album, I feel like I take it to the next level, I can't get no better, but somehow I've been blessed enough to actually get better."
The album's first single, "So Much More," was produced by Cool & Dre - who recently provided the backdrop for Joe's collaborative effort with Ja Rule and Jadakiss on "New York, New York" and serve as the Co-Executive Producers of "ALL OR NOTHING." "My rapport with them is like working with my brother," says Joe about the Miami-based duo. "I let them produce me to the fullest extent. They have input into my work, which is rare."
While Joe kept guest appearances on the album to a minimum, he did find time to record a killer track with hip-pop superstar Nelly, "Get It Poppin." The collaboration is just a taste of where Joe is heading for 2005. "My normal fans will be like, 'This is crazy different for Joe.' At the same time, it's elevating my game to where I rhyme to a whole different style of music. I look at my album the way a fan would. I do what I do for my fans."
With a slew of songs that highlight Fat Joe's growth as a heavyweight artist, "ALL OR NOTHING" is poised to be his most dominant statement to date - the album which will finally solidify Joe's position among the greatest hip-hop names of all time.
--- from the official Fat Joe website