“No regrets, don’t even talk about no Ruckers, motherfuckers/I am set like a tennis match/See where your interest at/Y’all don’t get the big picture yet, nigga get.”
Jay Z's 2004 “The Game Is Mine” freestyle wasn’t just a Reebok commercial for his S. Carter sneakers, it was a shot at Fat Joe. (You can hear Crack’s “Lean Back” line about the Rucker in the background in one version of said freestyle). There have been rumors flying about bad blood between these two for years. One suggested Big Pun—Fat Joe’s protégé—chased Jay around a couch; another involved a champagne bottle to the dome. Then there’s the incident at the Rucker. Many summers ago, Fat Joe’s Terror Squad—then the best team in the Entertainment Basketball Classic—were set to face off against Jay’s S. Carter team at the famous NYC basketball court in the tournament’s championship game. An already highly anticipated game, the many professional ballers attached to the game—Jamal Crawford, Stephon Marbury, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James—only added to the excitement. But there was no release for the tension; the Northeast Blackout of 2003 stopped the game, and it was never played due to scheduling conflicts. In the end, Jay’s team was forced to forfeit, making T.S. the champions.
Joe and Jay operated at other sides of the spectrum early in their respective careers—Fat Joe being considered more street to Jay’s crossover appeal—with Crack becoming a mainstream star after discovering Big Pun. The New York giants aren’t without some similarities, though. They come from the city’s legendary early ‘90s underground scene, where Fat Joe was a key member of the incomparable Diggin' in the Crates Crew; meanwhile, Hov soaked up game alongside mentors Jaz-O and Big Daddy Kane before making his ascent to the top of the game. Joe and Jay even collaborated with DJ Khaled a few times over the years, making us wonder why them squashing their beef didn't happen sooner.
6:40 AM and I still ain't sleep. Feels good to be lit. This time last year, my best friend died, shows were slow, but I NEVER gave up.— FAT JOE (@fatjoe) May 25, 2016
Now, in 2016, the elder statesmen seem to be unifying the region with last night’s remix to “All the Way Up,” the biggest anthem since Bobby Shmurda and his hat took the Tri-state (and the Internet) by storm with “Hot Nigga.” The Rotten Apple has struggled to produce acts the city, and rap fans at large can universally get behind. While underground acts such as French Montana, A$AP Mob, and Action Bronson have crossed over to the mainstream, other NY artists have failed to find the same success.
In come the veterans, Fat Joe and Jay Z. They know how to make certified hits and, alongside French and Remy Ma, Crack delivered with “All the Way Up.” The original song had the city buzzing since its release in March, and this new version will ring off in New York all summer.
Even without the speculation about his marriage after Beyoncé’s LEMONADE, new music from Hova demands our anticipation and attention.
Jiggaman jumping on this remix is important for New York. Bobby is in jail for God knows how long and New Yorkers (and ATLiens) haven’t fully accepted Desiigner’s Future impersonation. Still, the city stopped last night. I blasted Funk Flex’s Hot 97 broadcast as he rewound the song to death until my neighbor’s came knocking. Even without the speculation about his marriage after Beyoncé’s LEMONADE, new music from Hova demands our anticipation and attention. When I heard him talking his shit at the beginning as the beat started to build, I lost my mind. I was inconsolable. When his verse finally began, I wasn’t underwhelmed by his slightly uncomfortable flow because he still managed to let off a few subs and a handful of quotables.
A line like, “You know you made it when the fact your marriage made it is worth millions/LEMONADE was a popular drink and it still is,” acknowledges all the Beyoncé LEMONADE speculation, and “Prince left his masters where they safe and sound/We never gonna let the elevator take us down” addresses the Purple One’s untimely passing in an elevator and the 2014 Solange Met Gala incident.
At this point of his career, Jigga is just having fun—he shouldn’t have the power he does. He’s the same age as ‘80s rap legends and still performs at a high level. Jigga has been Jordan averaging 20 for the Wizards for how many years now? What else do you want from him? His name is already on the pyramid walls. He will have his own tomb decked out with all his riches. We’re lucky he still loves the sport and hasn’t forgotten about us as he races to a billion. While reacting to Hova’s verse, my roommate looked up and told me, “It's hard to shoot with six rings.” Indeed.