Fat Joe On Staying Relevant Amid Latino Erasure In Hip-Hop

Hip-hop veteran Fat Joe is still hungry for success more than two decades into his career.

Between his debut single “Flow Joe” and chart-topping anthem “All the Way Up,” the Bronx emcee has managed to remain relevant in the face of Latino erasure in hip-hop, though he doesn’t quite understand why it’s easy to deny how critical his community is to the genre.

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“If you look at history, at the first time hip-hop was invented, there was a Latino right there. How they got erased, I don’t know how that all came about,” he told The Root ahead of his Unsung debut on Wednesday night (Jan.11). “It’s crazy because everybody was there together. More and more with these documentaries, there is more information to prove we were there.”

Yet, the Terror Squad frontman credits his longevity to never being crowned a hip-hop great. “I never lose touch. If you let me tell it, I’ll tell you I never got my just due and my respect for being one of the greats in hip-hop, and because of that, the fire never burned out,” the Grammy-nominated rapper said. “There’s more and more of a need for me to succeed or take the legacy a step further, and that’s what it is. I stay around the young boys in the studio; I want to learn from them, and at the same time I have a lot to offer them.”

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A part of that is inextricably tied to lessons from his brother in music, the late Big Pun. “Pun was just a natural-born genius with music, and he basically taught me so many tricks on how to make better music, even though I was the one that discovered him,” he admitted. “He was so far advanced than me; he taught me a lot.”

Read Fat Joe’s full interview here.