With the release of his new memoir The Book of Jose, Fat Joe has opened up about the loss of his close collaborator Big Pun, his lost collab with Jay-Z, and why he deserved a Grammy more than Chance the Rapper.
In an interview with GQ conducted by Elliott Wilson, the 52-year-old rapper addressed how it felt to lose the Grammy for Best Rap Performance at the 2017 ceremony to Chance the Rapper, who won for “No Problem.” While he thinks Chance is a “cool guy,” he maintains that he “should have won the Grammy” for “All the Way Up” that year.
“‘All the Way Up’ was bigger. Not only that, if people understood the culture, Remy and I were like Robin Hood and Cinderella,” he said. “They gave it to Chance the Rapper—and for what? I’m not going to be disrespectful, but they gave it to him for a record I don’t even know no more. This is my point. I don’t even know what he beat us with. Do you understand? Same thing happened to us with ‘Lean Back.’ We lost Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group in 2005 to, what’s these guys? What’s the guy with the girl, Fergie?”
The group that won the year Joe referenced was the Black Eyed Peas,” who won for “Let’s Get It Started.” “Come on, bro. I don’t know what song,” he added. “How does it beat ‘Lean Back’?”
Joe also reflected on when he first met Pun, who he described as a little brother. “I was brought up so tough. My heart was black. I came from selling drugs, and doing all that,” he said. “I didn’t trust nobody. I was going up against animals. So when I met Pun for the first time, he was telling me his life story. I was just like, ‘Yo, why is this guy telling me all his fuckin’ business?’ That’s not what we do. But he just wanted to belong. He was a real dude, and he just wanted a crew.”
Joe signed Pun to his Terror Squad Productions record label, and served as an executive producer on his debut album Capital Punishment in 1998. The two became very close, but he died in 2000 at age 28 after suffering from a heart attack and respiratory failure.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of death,” added Joe. “I grew up with 40 guys, and 35 of them got killed. That shit is draining, bro. And so when you talk about Big Pun … that was devastating. It destroyed my world. I don’t even know how to explain it to you. So here we are, we brothers, we’re flying high, we get rich together. We made it! [It’s 1998], he’s going platinum with Capital Punishment. First Latino double-platinum rap album. … I was the Puff Daddy, he was the Biggie. And to just have that all just go away at such a young age, I didn’t know how to deal. So that’s when I went into depression.”
Elsewhere in the interview, he spoke about his long-lost collaboration with Jay-Z, a former rival of his. The pair had a song ready to go in 2019, but for whatever reason it never came out.
“He was talking about the NFL stuff. He had just signed that big deal with that NFL, so he wanted to let it go. He gave it to me,” he said, referring to when Jay-Z entered into a partnership with the NFL in 2019. “But I guess his people were like, ‘Yo bro, you just did a deal with them. How are you going to go in like that?’ … I got a copy here. I don’t listen to it but I got it. Dre got it.”
Read the full interview with Fat Joe here.