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What could you learn from a former armed robber and extoritonist? What if he stole to feed his family? This is not a philosophical question but the young life of Gramy Winner Fat Joe; a famous but unappriciated rapper, songwriter, music manager and producer. Fat Joe has been instrumental to the growth of Hip Hop since the 1990s and continues to develop artists today yet most people only know him as a rapper from the 90s. I believe there is a lot to learn from Fat Joe if you are trying to influnce an industry from multiple points of interest.
South Bronx native Joseph Antonio Cartagenal, known as Fat Joe, grew up in public housing with no hope of a future until his brother introduced him to hip hop. He immediately turned away from a life of crime and pursued a career in music in the early 1990s. Fat Joe gained little success as part of a rap group so he launched a solo career and his own record label; Terror Squad. His business success was often overshadowed by his own record albums and the big names who signed under his label such as Big Pun, Remy Ma, and DJ Khaled. Keep in mind, he launched his label before YouTube, SoundCloud, or iTunes were available to young artists. The only way to gain success back then was the easy way by signing with an existing record label, or the nearly-impossible way of self-promotion. Most artists who were successful put out albums and singles at least twice a year to become and remain relevant and popular. From 1993 to 2010, Fat Joe released one album every two years on average. That is because he was working hard on promoting the artists signed to his label. It takes a lot of self-discipline and respect to put your career second to those whom you serve. Fat Joe is also a known supporter of the LGBT cause and a advocate for equal rights.
"I'm known to be hands-on 100%. I don't know any other way to be than a leader by example" - Fat Joe
Top 3 things to learn from Fat Joe
- Accept responsibility for your actions - Considering his upbringing in the Bronx, Fat Joe has a lot of understandable reasons to blame his actions on his environment but he rarely does. Even when he admits being bullied as a kid, he speaks about how he stood up for himself and what he learned from the experience. He doesn't blame that bully for messing up his life. It seems that he does the same in his career, He pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2013 and after serving a few months in jail told a reporter "I made a mistake and it won't happen again". I would imagine, given the amount of shady people in the music management business, Fat Joe was not alone but he accepts his share of responsibility.
- Success requires hard work - Fat Joe is an example of hard work and dedication. While he admits to having a couple lucky breaks, ultimately he contributes all of his success to working harder than everyone else and the belief that nothing comes free.
- Lead by example - Personally I love that Fat Joe is an artist and develops artists because he has done it already and knows how to set an example. In fact, I have never seen Fat Joe publicly speak strongly about something unless he has been active in the issue.
"Everybody wants to be famous. You have to be ready to deal with consequences.” – Fat Joe
Of course, Fat Joe is moving forward
Today, Fat Joe works within Roc Nation developing iconic artists, and collaborating on records with top artists like Cardi B & Anuel AA. He is working on his new album "Family Ties" alongside long-time producer and collaborator Dre. It is set to release by the end of 2019. Believe it or not, Fat Joe doesn't believe he has released a real classic song yet. I personally still bump "Lean Back" and "What's Luv" today. Regardless Fat Joe promises classics within his latest album and I am eager to hear it.
What do you think? What action did Fat Joe's story inspire you to take? What was your favorite part of his story? What question would you like to ask him? If you have any questions, comments, or concerns for me, feel free to contact me; firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. Hope to hear from you soon!
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Fat Joe, nor any of his employees or associates, were consulted for this article, all information was found through the references below.
- “Fat Joe.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Oct. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Joe.
- Western, Dan. “Fat Joe Net Worth.” Wealthy Gorilla, 19 Feb. 2019, https://wealthygorilla.com/fat-joe-net-worth/.