Fat Joe f/ R. Kelly “We Thuggin’” (2001)

Producer: Ron G

Album: Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.)

Label: Terror Squad/Atlantic/Warner

Fat Joe: “Even though I knew Trackmasters, the biggest niggas in the game, and was cool with everyone, Fat Joe was stereotyped. I was almost like an actor who was stereotyped, like, ‘That’s a gangster actor.’ So even though I was cool, and popping bottles with all the nice-guy producers, they wouldn’t give me [those type of mainstream beats].

 

Fat Joe was stereotyped. I was almost like an actor who was stereotyped, like, ‘That’s a gangster actor.’ So even though I was cool, and popping bottles with all the nice-guy producers, they wouldn’t give me [those type of mainstream beats].

 

“So [mixtape legend] Ron G, out of all the unlikely heroes, said, ‘I got a beat for you.’ We were listening in the truck, and [when we heard it] we hopped outside the truck and started dancing. I was like, ‘I got it. It’s a hit.’

“The beat is a hit. If you listen to ‘Lean Back’ and how I went in so crazy on that, it’s because the beat was so ill. The beat makes me go crazy. So with ‘We Thuggin’,’ the beat was so ill that I knew it was going to be a hit.

“I had just met R. Kelly in D.C. at All-Star Weekend, and he was like, ‘Yo, I’m a big fan of yours.’ And he was like the biggest nigga on earth, so I was like, ‘Huh?!?’ And Pun had just passed, so he was like, ‘Sorry about your brother that just passed. Pun was my favorite. You guys [are great]. I’ve been studying you for years.’ And he was like, ‘I wanna do a song with you.’

“So we drove all the way to Orlando, because [that’s where] he was working on his album. And I’ll never forget, Tone from the Trackmasters was doing his album, and he heard [the ‘We Thuggin’’ beat] and was like, ‘Oh shit! This shit is a hit!’

 

I met R. Kelly in D.C. at All-Star Weekend, and he was like, ‘Yo, I’m a big fan of yours.’ Sorry about your brother that just passed. Pun was my favorite. You guys [are great]. I’ve been studying you for years.’

 

“R. Kelly had a tape recorder. He started singing into it and getting the idea [for the hook and the melody]. That was like history for me. It took me to another level. That opened the door. That was it. That was Joe making some money. That was the start. That was my biggest record at the time.

“I started getting way different kinds of looks. They actually had girls at my shows. Before that song, I would have two thousand niggas with razors in their mouths at my show. After ‘We Thuggin’,” I was like, ‘Oh, girls come to shows?!?!?’ That opened up the door, and then ‘What’s Luv’ just smacked the door wide open.

“Everybody embraced it. It wasn’t soft at all. R. Kelly was like the gangster of R&B. R. Kelly had only done two songs with rappers, Nas and Biggie. And I was the third rapper he did a song with. It was a huge look.

“This guy is on top of the earth, and he’s super exclusive, and he’s going to go and do a song with the nigga with the Chukkas and the Army jacket? That was like, ‘Oh shit, we gotta take Joe serious. We always knew he was the hardcore nigga, but he got it. He opened that door.’”

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