Fat Joe talks Remy Ma,Family and his sisters death-real good read

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 10 years ago '05        #1
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Fat Joe talks Remy Ma,Family and his sisters death-real good read

Fat Joe gets interviewed and he talks some deep sh*t regarding his family...Brutally honest interview......prop the kid....1

Fat Joe - Father Knows Best
Monday - February 5, 2007

Fat Joe hates talking on the phone. That’s why, unlike most of his Razr-flashing peers, the Bronx, NY-bred rapper hasn’t carried a cell in five years. But now, sitting inside a speaker-laden conference room in Virgin Records’ Manhattan offices, the 34-year-old is eager to flip open his brand new phone and show off a photo of his newborn daughter Azariah, who entered the world on May 4, 2006.

“She’s so beautiful, man,” says Joe, his typically thundering voice softening to a near hush. “She’s got these sky blue, platinum eyes. She’s like a model.”

Letting out a hearty laugh, Joe puts down the phone and explains his daughter’s unique name. “I went through a million names,” he begins. “This lady who does my wifey’s hair gave her a book of names and when I heard the name Azariah I just knew it was for her. It means ‘helped by God.’”

The name is fitting considering how often Joe and his fiancée, Lorena Rios, prayed for God to bless them with a smooth delivery. “I was a little scared to have another kid because of what happened to my sister,” says Joe, referring to his younger sister Lisa, who died during childbirth at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in 2002.

“They gave Lisa an epidural and instead of numbing her from the waist down, they numbed her from the waist up,” Joe says somberly, avoiding direct eye contact in what is probably an effort to conceal the freshness of the wound. Instead, his eyes drift downward and focus in on a single spot on the wooden table before him. “After spending a year in a coma, she and the baby passed away. That sh*t was crazy. And the whole time, Fat Joe was smiling for the cameras.”

Although he was scared by the medical community’s negligence and the role it played in his sister’s death, Joe put his fears aside in order to calm his pregnant wifey’s frazzled nerves. “She was so scared of going into labor that I really had to be there every step of the way,” he says. “I had to be that supporting cast member.”

Being supportive also meant catering to the whims and desires of a hormonal pregnant woman 24/7. “That was something,” Joe says emphatically. “It was like 7 A.M. when she told me she was having labor pains and I had just gotten home from the studio at 6 A.M. I was like, ‘Leave me alone! Please, stop faking it! I felt bad when I finally took her to the doctor, and he told us it was really going down.”

“After spending a year in a coma, [my sister] and the baby passed away. That s**t was crazy. And the whole time, Fat Joe was smiling for the cameras.”

Like any seasoned performer, Fat Joe has become quite adept at concealing his emotions. It’s a safeguard both for his privacy and to protect himself from further vulnerability. But as a result of this public mask, audiences have been quick to dismiss the hefty rapper as either a party animal that likes to lean back or a menacing figure that’ll slap the taste out ya mouth. Joseph Cartagena is much more than either classification. A dedicated husband and tender father, Fat Joe’s gentle side is not something the general public sees often. Only a privileged few get to know the Don in his totality.

Aside from his blood relatives, Joe’s inner circle consists of the Terror Squad, a collective of artists he pooled together in the late ’90s. An extended family of sorts, the crew has had its fair share of ups and downs. First was the sudden death of the group’s most prominent member, Christopher “Big Pun” Rios, who suffered a fatal heart attack in February 2000. Then, there was the much-publicized beef with Cuban Link, who Joe refuses to dwell on now, followed by the defection of Triple Seis from the group. More recently, the Squad’s first lady, Remy Ma, publicly criticized Joe time and again for mishandling and failing to properly promote her much-delayed debut, There’s Something About. To hear Joe tell it, though, Remy is still very much a part of TS.

“We argue all the time ’cause that’s my sister,” he says emphatically. “Everything Remy was mad about I was mad about. But all I am is the middleman. I kept going to [Remy’s label head] Steve Rifkind and saying, ‘Yo, we need to spend more money on radio. We ain’t promoting this album right.’ And they kept telling me, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’”

Joe’s voice rises as he continues describing the run-around he got from SRC label execs, “Me and Rifkind, we put out Big Pun together, and we don’t even talk to each other off [of what happened with] Remy’s album. She had every right to be upset, but I don’t think she was upset at the right people. Don’t throw Fat Joe under the bus! But hey, it’s my responsibility as a leader and a boss to take that. Whatever Remy does, I support her.”
Joe’s commitment to the Squad is confirmed on the outro of his seventh solo album, Me, Myself & I. Supported by a booming backdrop, he gives a roll call of all the people still down with TS—from DJ Khaled, Cool & Dre and Remy to Tony Sunshine, Armageddon, Prospect and a bevy of supporters, collaborators, and a.ssociates. Inspired by Boogie Down Production’s 1988 hit “I’m Still No. 1,” the shout out is Joe’s way of holding court over his household and expressing love towards his fam.

“To tell the truth, I treat everybody like family,” he says. “I’m a humble dude and I treat the poorest people down to the richest people the same. I’m just a good person all around and I’ve always shown everybody in my crew love.”

“We put my mother through so much. From my brother Angel’s substance abuse to me getting shot in front of her over some ’hood beef. [With this song] I wanted to show her that all she’s done for us didn’t go unnoticed.”

Making his debut under the moniker Fat Joe Da Gangsta in 1993, the Bronx bomber has gone from being just another hardcore New York rapper to a radio regular. Eventually dropping “Da Gangsta” from his name, he found success with club-friendly songs like 2001’s “What’s Luv?” with Ashanti and the Nelly-assisted “Get It Poppin’” in 2005. The pop hits may have been good for Joe’s visibility, but die-hard fans saw them as a departure from the Joey Crack persona they had fallen in love with.

Levar “LV” Coppin, Fat Joe’s long-time DJ and producer, can attest to how vociferously one fan demanded a return to the “Flow Joe” days. “I remember we were all in the airport, and one of the TSA guys was like, ‘Joe, all that Nelly sh*t is good and all, but I want Fat Joe Da Gangsta back,’” LV recalls. “And he really meant it. He wasn’t gonna let Joe get on that plane unless he got a response.”

Joe’s response comes in the form of Me, Myself & I, where that grimy, slick talkin’ cat from Trinity Ave. resurfaces. After a string of upbeat, sugary songs, he’s once again creating the music he wants to make. Part of that transition is the result of leaving longtime label Atlantic Records and signing a distribution deal with Virgin for his Terror Squad imprint.

“When you’re with a major, they demand that you make that record that’s gonna play on Z100,” he explains. “And it’s not that I mind making those records but when I made this album, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go completely against the system.’ I love gangsta rap music, that street corner, I-don’t-give-a-fu*k music. So that’s what I did.”

Yes, the album packs some powerful Bronx swagger, but it also showcases a more introspective Joe and is his first real effort to chronicle, in painstaking detail, the past experiences that have molded him. “I felt like this might be the last album I do,” says Joe. “So I wanted to put my heart into it. I ain’t holdin’ nothing back.”

The best indication of that is the Street Runnaz-produced “Bendicion Mami,” which is dedicated to the rapper’s mother, Maria. “Everything you hear on that track is real. Every single line,” says Joe. “Back in the day, my mom worked at the numbers spot and one day, when I was about 10-years-old, she got arrested. My mom’s a real decent lady—don’t get it twisted. But she had four kids to support…”

He pauses for a moment, shaking his head in disgust, he adds, “We put my mother through so much. From my brother Angel’s substance abuse to me getting shot in front of her over some ’hood beef. [With this song] I wanted to show her that all she’s done for us didn’t go unnoticed.”

Fat Joe is particularly grateful for his mother’s help in the rearing of his oldest son, Joey, 14, who is mentally disabled. Still a teenager when his son was born, Joe was unable and unwilling to fully understand the extent of Joey’s condition. “The only time they told me his exact diagnosis was when he was born, and I didn’t really wanna hear it,” says the proud papa. “It was so traumatic for me…”

It was just as tough for his first baby mama. Having split from Joe months before delivering their child, she became so overwhelmed by the idea of raising a special needs baby that she chose to completely hand his care over to Joe and his family. “She couldn’t really deal with him, so we took him and he’s been with my family ever since,” Joe explains matter-of-factly.

With so many rappers, and men in general, being summoned to court for unpaid child support nowadays, it’s a refreshing rarity to hear of an artist willing to man up to his responsibilities. But Joe isn’t one to hog the credit. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to take him on my own at such a young age, so my mother and father really helped raise him,” he says. “Really, they raised him.” In fact, Joey lives with his grandparents in Miami, where Joe owns a home.

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The heir to the Terror Squad throne, though, is Joe’s 12-year-old son Ryan, who the rapper fathered with his former flame, Brenda, a teacher from New York he dated for five years. “Ryan is Mr. Hip-Hop 101,” Joe says. “He’s the guy I don’t wanna take to the Puerto Rican Day Parade ’cause it’s too hectic and stressful, but every time the float stops and I look down, he’s there with his Puerto Rico bandanna up, hypin’ me up with a mic in his hand.”

Although Joe encourages Ryan’s passion for hip-hop, he’s intent on having his son discern the difference between entertainment and reality. “He loves Cam’ron’s ‘Suck It Or Not’ and he’ll sing it. He won’t curse in front of me, but he’ll sing it,” says Joe. “That’s fine, but the minute he tells a girl, ‘Suck my d*ck,’ I’ll slap the sh*t outta him. Let’s be clear about that.”

Having endured the pressures of the music industry first-hand, Joe also isn’t too keen on Ryan entering the music business. “I don’t want him to follow in my footsteps ’cause if you’re Joey Crack’s son you gotta lot to live up to as far as his father being one of the realest rappers and being one of these serious dudes. I don’t want him to get caught up in that where he gotta live in my footsteps and he gotta be a tough n*gga. That’s a burden and I don’t want him in that.”

“I felt like this might be the last album I do. So I wanted to put my heart into it. I ain’t holdin’ nothing back.”

For any artist, balancing family life with a demanding schedule filled with studio sessions, tour dates and press appearances can be quite a challenge. Joe’s motto is simple: “Work hard, provide for your children, love them with all your heart and, whenever you have a second free, spend it with them.”

According to Joe, his most valuable lessons in parenting came courtesy of his mother. “Growing up, my mother’s door was always open,” he recalls. “Even though we didn’t have much, [anybody] could walk into my house and eat pork chops and rice and beans and borrow a dollar. So whatever my family needs, they get. We don’t ever deny our family anything.”

The most rewarding aspect of his work, then, is seeing his family live well. “I teach my children to be humble, to treat people with the same respect whether they have money or not, to be loyal and kind,” he says. “And if they do that, I’ll reward them and give them whatever they want.”

The cornerstone of the Cartagena household, however, is of course his “queen,” Lorena. Joe, who describes Lorena as “the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen with a personality to match,” raves about his wifey’s ability to cope with his lifestyle and accept his other two children with equal love.

“Ryan’s mom and my wifey are both very mature,” says Joe. “Even with my nephews from Ryan’s side—just because I’m not with Brenda anymore, that don’t mean Ryan’s cousins ain’t my nephews. So they come to the house and Lorena shows them love, cooks for them, and cleans for them… She loves them.”

“Lorena’s a trooper,” confirms LV. “Joe works a lot and for that to be your husband’s life, you have to put up with a lot—him not being there, him having to work even when he’s home... She’s a special woman.”

Joe’s demeanor tells everything about his feeling for his wifey. He smiles tenderly every time her name is mentioned, and his eyes light up like a smitten kid basking in the glory of his first crush. Briefly letting his guard down, the proud father and husband reveals the driving force behind everything that he does.

“You know, growing up I didn’t have much, so I wanna make sure my family lives good,” he says. “I want them to travel and see the world. I want for my kids to get a great education. I want them to be loyal and good people. I just want them to be able to be blessed. So that’s why I work so
hard and bust my a.ss so much.”


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