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 Joe pays his dues, chops down doors and takes his shirt off...


Page 2


 Joe gets picked on, discovers hip-hop and develops ghetto survival skills ...


Page 3


 Joe takes a backseat to Big Pun, endures tragedy and comes back hard ...


Photo Gallery

 Fat Joe Live
At Spring Break 2002


Photo Gallery

 A Look Back At Fat Joe




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-- by Abbey Goodman, with additional reporting by Peter Wilkinson

He's always been fat. And when it's hot, he always takes his shirt off. Deal with it.

That's right. Fat Joe. Joey Crack. Don Cartagena. However you know him, you've been seeing a lot of him lately. Probably more of him than you bargained for, especially if you tuned into this year's MTV Spring Break programming.

Fat Joe Live
At Spring Break 2002
Performing his breakout single, "What's Luv?," with Ashanti in Cancun, viewers got a look at Joe like never before, bare-chested with his shorts slung low. The incident had online message boards and office water coolers buzzing for days.

"Look, I've always been fat," Joe said unapologetically. "You saw me on Spring Break with my shirt off. I mean, that's normal. I walk around the Bronx with the shirt off all day. Every Sunday I play softball with my shirt off. The whole Bronx sees me. I see Ja Rule, I see LL [Cool J]. Everybody can wear their shirt off. But for Fat Joe, there's controversy."

Clearly Joe is aware of what's been said and the attention he received. And he relishes it.

"It's cool, because now the people that were never really turned on to Fat Joe see him," he said. "You can really rate him. You can see, 'Man, this guy's fat, but he's jumping all over the stage.' I mean, we put on a hell of a show.

"You ain't never going to forget this," Fat Joe said proudly, "especially if you're a hater and you hate Fat Joe and the Terror Squad. We're here now. Ass is out. Life is good."

Life is good for the rapper born Joe Cartagena, the newest darling of the rap world. Despite the fact that he's been in the game for nearly a decade, it's an honor Fat Joe is happy to accept.

While new listeners might feel like they've discovered an untapped talent, hardcore fans who have been with Joe since his first album, 1993's Represent, might worry that their underground hero is selling out.

"Fat Joe done kept it real for so many years, I'm never considered a sellout," he said confidently. "If anything, I'm an underdog that [people] are happy for. It took me nine and a half years to be platinum, to get MTV success, have #1 songs in the country. Everyone's seen me pay my dues and chop down doors."

The child of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents, Fat Joe grew up in the South Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop. For better or for worse, he's held a torch for the place ever since.


Joe gets picked on in school, discovers hip-hop and develops ghetto survival skills ... NEXT
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Photo: Atlantic

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 "What's Luv?"
featuring Ashanti
(live from Spring Break 2002)
(Atlantic)



 "What's Luv?"
featuring Ashanti
J.O.S.E.
(Atlantic)



 "We Thuggin'"
featuring R. Kelly
J.O.S.E.
(Atlantic)


 Jennifer Lopez
featuring Fat Joe
"Love Don't Cost A Thing"
J To Tha L-O! The Remixes
(Sony)


 "Don Cartagena"
featuring P. Diddy
Don Cartagena
(Atlantic)


 "John Blaze" remix
Don Cartagena
(Atlantic)






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