Fat Joe Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, N.Y. -- The past year-and-a-half has marked a time of rebirth for Fat Joe; not only did the ceaselessly-grinding Big Apple mainstay achieve considerable success in 2010 with 10th studio album The Darkside, a set hailed by many critics as a return to his hardcore roots, but this summer saw him render his stage name considerably less accurate with the help of an immensely successful new diet and exercise regimen. And the leaner, meaner new Joey Crack didn't stop there. Just this Monday (October 31), the rap vet did something normally reserved for hungry up-and-comers and released his debut mixtape--a project which doubles as the sequel to his most recent LP. Heralded by Booth-acclaimed, Chris Brown-assisted single "Another Round," The Darkside Volume 2 is available now online.
In this exclusive interview, Fat Joe steps into the Booth to discuss his motivations for creating a mixtape follow-up to Darkside, his feelings on singers who (like Breezy) try their hand at rapping, and his weight-loss secrets.
You released your new mixtape The Darkside Vol. 2 earlier this week. What was it specifically about Vol. 1 that made you want to create a Vol. 2?
The reviews I got on Volume 1 were so incredible. Not to mention that’s the kind of music I love to make. I come from that hardcore, digging in the crates real hip-hop music and I love to actually make it. I made “The Darkside Vol.1” and my true fans loved it to death. We also realize that nobody is gonna’ play any hard gangsta’ music on the radio right now because it’s so driven by club songs and girl records. The only way to survive in this music climate right now is to target the ladies or make a club banger.
There’s a void for that real hardcore music so I said being that the people love me for that kind of music, let me go ahead and create a project filled with that to give to the fans for free. I get to do what I love to do and at the same time, I get to drop records on my album like “Another Round” with Chris Brown, which I just released that the ladies could vibe too and take it from there.
The Darkside Vol. 2 is your first ever mixtape. What are your thoughts on the current mixtape scene right now?
I’ve been able to analyze the game and utilize the internet to my advantage. It’s a way to get your music out there to get your fans excited about what you have coming up. Take a look at “Girl You Be Killin’ ‘Em” by Fabolous – that was a mixtape record. They didn’t even know that record was gonna’ take off like that, and yet that record became one of the hottest records of the year. The same goes for Rick Ross’ “B.M.F.” – that was a mixtape record. They were just putting out mixtapes to give their fans what they want and these records ended up taking off. It’s a great outlet to drop your music and do what you like, and it might even take off and become a hit record.
You're currently hard at work on your 11th solo album. The first thing that comes to mind with that large a number is longevity. What advice would you offer to an artist trying to have a career like the one you’ve had?
Don’t try this at home (laughs). You have to be a student of the game and you have to respect what the new guys are bringing to the game. Above all you gotta’ love what you do and do it well. As far as I go, this is what I love to do. I always said that if you take a painter and cut off his hands, then he wouldn’t have anything. With me, music is my everything. I’m grateful that I’m still able to drop music after all these years and have fans still be excited about it. That’s big for me.
Lets go back to your new single with Chris Brown. Tell us more about “Another Round.”
That record is that… can I curse?
That record is that sh*t right there! That’s for the ladies. I love to make those types of records also. You need to have balance – while I’m dropping The Darkside Vol. 2, I’m also working on the hit records. I already have a follow up single done with Trey Songz that’s incredible. I’m in a great space. I’m able to make music for myself because I don’t have a boss. It’s a beautiful thing.
Chris Brown recently transitioned from singing to rapping. What do you think of his rapping skills?
He’s dope! Music is an art man. As long as people are doing it from the heart and it sounds great, I’m with that. Actors in Hollywood say that they don’t want rappers to act – they say we’re not real actors. I’m not with that either. Trey Songz is a dope rapper too. To me, the best female rapper ever was a singer - Lauryn Hill. That’s my personal opinion. The greatest female rapper ever to me was Lauryn Hill and she was a singer, so where would I get off saying I don’t like Chris Brown or Trey Songz rapping?
There’s no topping The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Nah, you can’t top The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It’s impossible – those things just don’t happen.
Switching gears, you've lost almost 100 pounds this year - congratulations. What has been your secret?
First off, thanks my brother. I just listened to what people have always been telling me -try and stay away from the carbs [carbohydrates] and work out every day. That doesn’t mean kill yourself, it means to go on the treadmill and do cardio. It was a no brainer. When you start doing it, you realize that you’re just doing what people have been telling you to do. Exercise for about 30 minutes a day – I actually do more now but just in case anyone out there overweight is reading this, it’s hard to get them to start working out so I recommend them to start by doing 20-30 minutes a day. Even if it’s just walking around the block, you’ll gain stamina and take it from there. Do that and do your best to stay away from rice, bread and pasta. It may be hard, but if Fat Joe can do it, you can do it. I used to go to fast food places and eat off the tray, not the plate. I’d fill up the whole tray with food. If I can do it, they can do it.
Your colleague Rick Ross recently suffered two seizures, which could possibly be weight related. What sort of health tips would you offer him?
I can’t really offer him anything. He’s a grown man and he knows what he needs to do. He’s a great guy and I wish him the best with his health and everything, but he knows what he has to do for himself. He’s a grown man.