Fat Joe Breaks Down His 25 Most Essential Songs

Fat Joe f/ Raekwon, Big Pun, & Armageddon “Firewater” (1996)

Producer: Born Lords

Album: Envy/Firewater 12 Inch

Label: Relativity

Fat Joe: “It was the dawn of a new day. Big Pun is in the building. Big Dog Punisher. Damn, that nigga Pun changed the game, nigga! [Laughs.] He came in the game like, ‘I’m all about business and enterprising, surprising, realizing, [mumbles rest of the rap]....’ [Laughs.]

“The first shit I put Pun on was on my second album, ‘Watch Out.’ It was him, Armageddon, and Keith Nut. And ‘Firewater’ [was done after the album was out], so we threw it on the B-side to ‘Envy.’

 

Pun was acting humble and cool, but he wanted to destroy and conquer. He would lure in other rappers like he was their friend and then destroy them on records. That was his job in life.

 

“That night, I think we did that at The Hit Factory or something in New York, and everybody was in the building too. It wasn’t like now, where you do a song with somebody and send them the Pro Tools. Back then everyone was in the building.

“Pun was a breath of fresh air. He was hilarious. The funniest dude you would ever meet, doing pranks, telling jokes. At the same time, he knew he was about to be unveiled. So imagine you know you’re better than everyone but the world hasn’t discovered you yet. And you’re finally there, and you catch your little break. So he was acting humble and cool, but he wanted to destroy and conquer. And that was Pun the whole time. He would lure in other rappers like he was their friend and then destroy them on records. That was his job in life.

“So he was in there. And niggas were like, ‘Oh you’re nice? Yeah, Joe said he got a dude that raps.’ And then he comes up in there and bodies it. And then he looks at you to see what you think.

 

I had Nas and Kool G. Rap hanging out with me. I told Pun to rap for them. Imagine a hungry Pun. You could see it in their faces, niggas were looking like, ‘Oh my God. This nigga’s a problem.’

 

“Pun was with me at the ‘Success’ video. I had Nas, when Nas was the best nigga in the game, and Kool G. Rap, both hanging out with me. I told Pun to rap for them. Imagine a hungry Pun. You could see it in their faces, niggas were looking like, ‘Oh my God. This nigga’s a problem.’

“And you know, Raekwon and me, we started out together. And the thing that’s so special about Rae, he would go Platinum, but still have love for the niggas that started with him. If I called him, like, ‘Yo, I need you on this record,’ he’d show up and get busy, with no question. Biggest nigga in the game, he got ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces’ out, he got the most classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx out, and he’d show up in one second and show love.

“So being that he was always so real and so humble with me, he got a special place in my heart. Me and Rae got this bond that can’t be broken. To this day, he still calls me and asks for advice. I call him. It’s a serious alliance.”

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