In the early 1990s, he signed a contract with ‘Relativity Records’ as a part of the group D.I.T.C. (Diggin In The Crates crew) and used the stage name ‘Fat Joe da Gangsta.’ He released his debut album, ‘Represent,’ in 1993. The album included works from artists, such as Diamond D., Lord Finesse, and The Beatnuts, among others. ‘Flow Joe,’ the lead single from the album, made to the number one position on the ‘Billboard Hop Rap Singles’ chart. ‘Watch the Sound,’ ‘This Shit is Real’ were some other singles from the same album.
‘Jealous One’s envy’ (1995) was his second album and it included contributions from Diamond D., and the acclaimed artist, KRS-One. A single, ‘Envy,’ from this album reached number 8 on the ‘Hot Rap Tracks’ chart. The album also included ‘Watch Out,’ featuring Latino rapper Big Pun, whose music had influenced Fat Joe since his teen years. Joe, too, contributed to the recordings of other artists, including ‘LL Cool J.’
In 1998, he signed up with the ‘Atlantic Records’ and released his third album, ‘Don Cartagena.’ It reached number 7 on the ‘Billboard 200’ and the RIAA certified it as gold. The album featured Big Pun, Diddy, Raekwon, Jadakiss, among others and the album also saw the debut of Joe’s own group, ‘Terror Squad.’ The members of the ‘Terror Squad’ are Carbon Link, Triple Seis, Prospect, Late Big Pun, Armageddon and Remy Ma (who joined later). The most popular singles of this album were ‘Don Cartagena’ and ‘Bet Ya Man Can’t Triz.’ Joe featured in Jennifer Lopez’s 1999 single ‘Feelin So Good.’
His fourth album, ‘Jealous Ones Still Envy,’ (J.O.S.E.) in 2001, featured many well-known names, including Irv Gotti, Ja Rule, Ludacris, Ashanti, R. Kelly, Busta Rhymes, Buju Banton and others. This was his most successful album and was certified platinum. R. Kelly’s single, ‘We Thuggin,’ from this album became popular and Irv Gotti’s ‘What’s Luv?’ featuring Ja Rule and Ashanti was a major hit.
Released in 2002, Fat Joe’s fifth album ‘Loyalty’ was not a commercial success as his previous one. In 2004, he recorded for the ‘Terror Squad’s’ second album, ‘True Story.’ The number, ‘Lean Back,’ featuring Joe with Remy Ma, became a massive hit.
Joe’s sixth album ‘All or Nothing’ was released in 2005; it had guest features by Eminem, Nelly, R. Kelly, and Mase, among others. The album also had the track, ‘My Fofo,’ which criticized ‘50 Cent,’ another rapper from New York, who retaliated with his song, ‘Piggy Bank,’ and thus the hostility between the two continued.
In 2006, he came out with seventh album ‘Me, Myself & I,’ which was his first with new label, ‘Virgin Records.’ This album included the hit single ‘Make It Rain’ by Lil Wayne. His eighth solo album, ‘The Elephant In The Room,’ debuted at number 6 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and was distributed by ‘Imperial Records.’
‘J.O.S.E.2’ was his 9th album and it debuted at number 73 on the ‘Billboard 200.’ It featured other artists, including Fabolous, Ron Browz, Lil’ Kim, T-Rain and the first single, ‘One,’ was sung by Akon. Fat Joe’s next album, ‘The Darkside Vol. 1’ was released on label ‘E1,’ in July 2010, and reached number 27 on ‘Billboard 200.’ It included singles – ‘(Ha Ha) Slow Down,’ and ‘If It Ain’t About Money.’
He also contributed to other artists’ work and appeared on a remix of DJ Khaled’s ‘Welcome To My Hood.’ In 2011, he released his first mixtape, ‘The Darkside Vol.2.’ In the same year, Joe came out with the singles, ‘Another Round’ and ‘Yellow Tape’ from his yet to be named 11th studio album. After a gap of almost ten years he got a ‘Top 40’ hit with his single, ‘All the Way Up,’ which made to number 27 on ‘Hot 100.’ This single was from the album ‘Plato O Plomo’ (2017) and featured Fat Joe and Remy Ma. His 11th solo album ‘Family Ties’ was brought out in 2018, and included the single ‘Pick It Up,’ with Dre.
Fat Joe has appeared in a few movies, including ‘Thicker than Water’ (1999), ‘Empire,’ and ‘Happy Feet’ (2006), among others, and also a Netflix series, ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ (2017 – present).
Apart from his music career, he has also dabbled in ventures such as a fashion-line ‘FJ560,’ a barber shop, and a clothing store, ‘Fat Joe’s Halftime.’
When rapper ‘Big Pun,’ whose music he admired, died due to excessive weight at the age of 28, Joe was shocked and saddened and decided to reduce his own weight. Later, he made efforts and lost 88 pounds.