Fat Joe aka Joey Crack, niggas be like, ‘He’s phat,’ bitches be like, ‘He’s all that.’” That rhyme pretty much sums it up. Who doesn't love the South Bronx's own Don Cartagena? The fellas throw him pounds, the chicks give him hugs, and the industry’s top disc jockeys, producers, and artists all show him love (well, except for that one guy). After almost 20 years in the game, he’s one of the only rappers out who can make hardcore rap tracks and radio friendly hits, and still demand respect in the streets.

We caught up with a slimmed-down Fat Joe recently (congrats on the weight loss!) to ask him about the stories behind his 25 essential songs, including his solo smashes, collaborations with Lil’ Wayne, R. Kelly, and his Terror Squad twin Big Pun (RIP), not to mention the underground bangers with his Diggin’ In The Crates crew and posse cuts with everybody from Nas to Eminem to Rick Ross.

Find out what beat Joe was scared to spit on (it was just that dope), what rapper said he was going to get on a track with him and take all his fans, which hip-hop legend he used to be a hype man for, and the origin of Big Pun’s most celebrated tongue twister. He also tells us which one of his songs Biggie complimented him on and even discusses his beef with you-know-who. Coca!

As told to Daniel Isenberg (@stanipcus)