Joseph Antonio Cartagena (born August 19, 1970), better known by his stage name Fat Joe, is an American rapper and actor from the Bronx, New York. He began his music career as a member of hip hop group Diggin' in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.), then forged a solo career and set up his own label, Terror Squad, to which he signed Big Pun, Remy Ma, Tony Sunshine, Cuban Link, Armageddon, Prospect, Triple Seis and DJ Khaled as well as discover producers Cool & Dre.
Fat Joe's debut solo album, Represent, was released in 1993 and spawned the single "Flow Joe", which reached number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs. His most commercially successful album to date was Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.) (2001); it was certified platinum by the RIAA and internationally certified silver by the BPI, as well as reaching the top 100 on multiple music charts.
He is best known for the songs "Lean Back" with Terror Squad, "What's Luv?" featuring Ashanti & Ja Rule, "Make It Rain" featuring Lil Wayne and "All the Way Up" with Remy Ma featuring French Montana and Dre.
Fat Joe has appeared in several films, including Scary Movie 3 and Happy Feet, as well as Spike Lee's Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It.
In 2018 he began hosting a podcast on Tidal, Coca Vision, where he discusses music, friendships, and pop culture with some of the industry's most entertaining voices.
Fat Joe was born on August 19, 1970, in the South Bronx area of New York City, where he was raised by parents of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent. He lived in public housing and began stealing at a young age to support his family. He also admits that he was a bully in his childhood. His brother introduced him to hip hop music.
Under stage name Fat Joe da Gangsta and part of the rap group D.I.T.C., Cartagena was signed to Relativity Records in the early 1990s, recording material and working with many artists who he would later sign to his own label. In 1993, his debut album, Represent, was released, featuring production from The Beatnuts, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, and others. Its lead single, "Flow Joe" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart; other minor singles from the album included "Watch the Sound" and "This Shit is Real".
In 1995, Fat Joe released his second studio album, Jealous One's Envy, which peaked at #71 on The Billboard 200 and at #7 on Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums. The album featured a guest appearance from KRS-One and production from Diamond D. The lead single was Success, which did not chart, but his second single, "Envy" peaked at #8 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. The success of this album led Joe to be featured on the remix of LL Cool J's single "I Shot Ya" along with Foxy Brown, Keith Murray, and Prodigy of Mobb Deep. During the recording of Jealous One's Envy, Joe discovered fellow Latino rapper Big Pun, who was featured on the song "Watch Out". Joe later explained the rapper's influence on him: "Latinos before us who had the opportunity to do it just didn't know how to do it. They came in trying to do this black music, waving flags. But, we're trying to kick in the doors for other Latinos and represent our people, and it shows."
Fat Joe has been back to his old school in the Bronx, New York to donate computers for the students.
In 2008, he attended the grand opening of the Hip Hop Soda Shop in Miami which was community outreach project set up by Ben Chavis for the youth to hang out and do things such as record music, use the computers and play on Xbox 360s.
At a "School is Cool" assembly in Public School 5 in Jersey City, New Jersey on June 11, 2009, Fat Joe was a speaker.
On January 23, 2011, Fat Joe appeared with Newark mayor Cory Booker and fitness expert Jeff Halevy at an event to promote the Newark branch of Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative against childhood obesity.
Released in 1998, Don Cartagena was Joe's third album and his first for Atlantic Records. It peaked on The Billboard 200 at #7 and #2 on Top R&B/Hip Hop albums, eventually being certified gold by the RIAA.