Hip hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and XXL Magazine is honoring some of the genre’s greatest storytellers with its “Legends” cover series. The latest issue features an interview with Fat Joe, a South Bronx native who burst onto the hip hop scene in the early ’90s with his debut album Represent. In the interview, Fat Joe talks about his 30-year rap career, his proudest career moments, discovering Big Pun, and some of his truest friends in the industry.
Fat Joe states that early ’90s hip hop was a vibe, and it was the era that would change the whole game. He mentions the class of ’92 and ’93, where everyone from Diggin in the Crates, Lord Finesse, Diamond D, to Gang Starr, Craig Mack, Biggie, early JAY-Z, and early Nas was collaborating and trying to help each other. According to Fat Joe, they were lifting the hip hop culture to another level.
Fat Joe also mentions his proudest career moments, including working with his mentor and idol LL Cool J on “I Shot Ya.” He said it was a breakout moment that let people know he was real. His second proudest moment was discovering the late Big Pun. The pair worked together on the 1998 single “Still Not a Player,” which had everyone asking Fat Joe if he had any artists who were similar to Pun.
When it comes to his true friends, Fat Joe mentions N.O.R.E., DJ Khaled, Remy Ma, Cool, and Dre, who were there for him during his low moments. They were there for him when he was depressed and needed someone to talk him out of the house.
Finally, Fat Joe shares some advice with those who want to be successful: “If you study my story, if you see what I had to go through to become successful, it’ll teach you to never give up.”
Fat Joe’s interview with XXL Magazine offers a glimpse into the early ’90s hip hop scene, where collaboration and lifting the culture were paramount. His career highlights and moments of friendship remind us that success is not just about individual talent but also about the people we surround ourselves with.