It seems as though everyone is burying the hip-hop hatchet these days. Most recently, Nas and Cam’Ron left the beef behind as the former Dipset head posted a photo of his reconciliation with the Queensbridge, New York rhyme legend on Instagram. Former bitter rivals Rick Ross and Young Jeezy marked their surprising union with the track “War Ready,” which will be featured on Rozay’s upcoming March 4th album Mastermind.
And then there’s 50 Cent and Fat Joe.
The two New York rap giants first appeared together onstage at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards—in tribute to their mutual friend and late, respected music veteran Chris Lighty—after almost a decade of hostile feuding. But while everyone praised the peaceful moment as positive gesture, no one expected the unlikely pair to appear on the same record. Still, a few weeks ago, hip-hop fans were stunned when they heard Joey Crack and Fiddy on the boom-bap DJ Kay Slay cut “Free Again.” According to 50, the musical alliance came about in a very organic way.
“The actual Joe record, Kay Slay came to see me and I was just finishing up with Animal Ambition,” 50 Cent tells VIBE, alluding to his first album since announcing yesterday (Feb. 20) that he is leaving his longtime label home Shady/Aftermath to go independent. “And I said, ‘Yo, I got records.’ I had a bunch of records left over from the writing I did for that. [Kay Slay] played it and I was like, ‘That’s the record that we are supposed to do—me and Joe.'”
When it came to their lyrical contributions on “Free Again,” both men took different approaches. “[Joe] wrote about his experience in having to go away,” says 50 of Fat Joe’s brief time behind bars for tax evasion late last year. “So I had to use the actual chorus for my balance on the actual record and write with a completely different energy from what he wrote. Because [his experience] is not true for me.”
The result? Nothing but glowing praise for his former enemy. “I love working with artists when they pull from real experiences,” he says. “I think it’s priceless. I think it will mark a period in [Joe’s] actual life in art after he’s dead and gone. That’s what makes authenticity special within our culture.”
50 Cent’s Animal Ambition is due out on June 3, with preorders beginning on March 18. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)