"Just call me 'G.N.' man," an excited Fat Joe said Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after being hit with a surprising, but welcome, nod for his 2002 hit, "What's Luv?" " 'Grammy Nominated,' that's the new nickname. I wasn't expecting it at all."
Joe, who is nominated in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his duet with Ashanti, goes up against Ja Rule and Ashanti, Nelly and Kelly Rowland, Nappy Roots and Anthony Hamilton, and Justin Timberlake and the Clipse (see "Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Nelly, Norah Jones Nab Most Grammy Noms"). Although he's still not sure of his chances, he already knows how he will act if he takes home the award. (Click here for the list of nominees and for photos of this year's Grammy nominees and performers.)
"If I win, it's over," he said, still elated. "Don't nobody wanna see this n---a win 'cause I'm losing it. I'm screaming, 'The Bronx!' I'm screaming, 'Boriqua!' Wow, it's over. If I win it's a problem."
Regardless of whether a presenter reads his name from that envelope during the ceremony, which takes place February 23 at New York's Madison Square Garden, the fat gangsta says he's the people's champ.
"It feels like we all win when Joe wins," he explained. "People know the struggle, everything I had to overcome. People feel like that's them winning. If Joe could do it, they could do it. I definitely was the last n---a on earth people would think be getting nominated for Grammys and doing movies."
Joe's latest role is as a gun-toting thug in "Empire," which did surprisingly well at the box office for an independent release.
"I'm trying to work, be diverse and multi-talented," he said. "I'm trying to get in where I fit in and take it to the next level. When it's all said and done I want to look back on my career and say I did numerous things."
Another thing Joe wants to try his hand at is putting out records without the help of a major label.
"We're working on this Terror Squad album," he said. "I think we're gonna put that out independently, just trying to flex our muscle. I been swearing we could do it ourselves. I don't know if I'm just crazy, but I wanna test the waters. For years I been looking at the independent game, for years I been saying, 'I can get my own video played. I can get my own radio, I can get my own press.' It's just like the acting and everything else, I don't want my career to go by without me saying I didn't give it a shot.
"Who knows if that could be my niche," he added. "You go gold with an independent album, you make 10 million. I gotta challenge myself."
And Joey Crack is already starting to work with smaller budgets than he's used to, a trait of an independent businessman. He recently went to the streets of the Bronx, guerilla style, to shoot the video for "Take a Look at My Life."
"I just felt like it's been a long enough time since I did one of those," said Joe, who has yet another video, "All I Need," hitting airwaves in the next few days (see "Fat Joe — Bringing Couples Together"). "It ain't been since [Big] Pun's 'Deep Cover' that we took it to the projects. So I was like, 'I gotta take it back to the street one time. F--- it.' Straight like '94, '95 and letting n---as know, no matter how big you think Joe is, I'm still respected in the 'hood."
And by the industry, says the Recording Academy.
For more Grammy news, check out the MTV News Grammy Archive.