Fat Joe Warns The Shirt Might Come Off At VMAs

Weighty wordsmith excited about nomination and upcoming LP.

NEW YORK — Throughout his decade-long career, Fat Joe has always had a way with words. To follow-up last year's Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.), he's taking his lexis to an even higher level.

"The next album is super crazy, phenomenal," the Bronx-born MC explained while working on his fifth LP in a Manhattan studio. "I really pretty much show my ass as a lyricist, just touching so many different concepts. My album is more musical, it's just really crazy."

Although Loyalty, due in November, is still in the formative stages, the rapper has already voiced his choice for what the first single should be. "Stop Playing," a collaboration with Ginuwine that he was fiddling with last week, may make songs such as Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and Faith Evans' "Burnin' Up" sweat bullets.

"It's a crazy, hot, sexy joint," he explained. "This joint right here we doing tonight, it's just straight fire, straight fuego."

Fat Joe will take a break from the album to attend next week's Video Music Awards, where he's in contention for the Best Hip Hop Video award for "What's Luv?," his collaboration with Ashanti (click for the complete list of 2002 VMA Nominees). To claim the prize, the second single from J.O.S.E. will have to beat out the videos for "One Minute Man" by Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott featuring Ludacris and Trina, "Pass the Courvoisier (Part II)" by Busta Rhymes featuring P. Diddy and Pharell, "I'm Real (Remix)" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule, "The Whole World" by Outkast featuring Killer Mike, and "Always on Time" by Ja Rule featuring Ashanti.

The odds of Joe triumphing over such megastars seem steep, but if his is the name announced after "and the winner is ...," he just might show a side of himself that many have never seen — nor have ever wanted to.

"[The shirt] might come off," the gorged gangsta said of the somewhat disturbing display that made its television debut during MTV's Spring Break week in Cancun, Mexico. "If I win the VMA, it might come off. The belly might be showing," he chuckled.

"I would lose it, I really would lose it," he continued, pondering perhaps his biggest "what if" daydream. "I mean, you're telling the guy who has been in this business for 10 years [that he's] finally getting acknowledged. I really did have a little tear in my eye when I heard I got nominated. It feels really good to feel appreciated. ... So I don't know how I would act."

Even if he comes up short in the VMA contest, Joe won't be heartbroken. Although such a setback might bring him a bit down, Joe Crack will be far from out.

"Definitely, don't worry about Joe," he assured. "I'm gonna be all right, I'm always gonna be the fat dude in the Cadillac truck, 20 years from now, with the windbreaker jogging suit."

Whether he's got a Moonman by his side or not, Joe will be celebrating after the VMA ceremonies. Although his birthday was August 19, he's throwing himself a party that night and sparing no expense. He's hired an art director to give his bash some extra flair, and his tri-level birthday cake is setting him back a whopping $7,700.

"We just gonna be rocking," he said. "We hired [the art director] to put together little extra things around the party, to make it look real nice, to give it a good environment. We gonna be dressed up — it's gonna be a nice, hard-bottom-shoe party, which is rare for Fat Joe. Fat Joe usually have a jersey, hat, thugged-out entertainment party."

For a full-length feature on Fat Joe, check out "Fat Joe: Bigger Than Ever."

Catch all the sizzlin', star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News' preshow kicks things off at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.

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