There is no denying that last summer belonged to Fat Joe and Terror Squad. It was hard to escape the sounds of “Lean Back,” the single that propelled Joe and his crew to the top of The Billboard Hot 100 and earned them a Grammy Award nomination for best rap performance by a duo or group.
So how does an artist top such a hit?
“It’s important to stay consistent,” Fat Joe says, calling from the road where he is promoting his solo album, “All or Nothing,” which arrives June 14 via Terror Squad/Atlantic Records.
“When you have a song like that, then everybody’s watching you like, ‘What are you gonna do now?’ I’ve got to prove it ain’t a fluke.”
On the new album, Joe put his consistency theory to use, teaming again with Scott Storch, who was the force behind the infectious beat of “Lean Back.” He also tapped hitmakers Timbaland, Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz and Cool & Dre, the Miami-based duo behind the new album’s lead single, “So Much More,” which peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Surpassing the success of “Lean Back” was not Joe’s only driving force during the album’s recording. He says he was driven by an emotion far deeper.
“It was the fact that I love this music. I love hip-hop music,” the Bronx, N.Y.-bred MC emphasizes. “If I didn’t have my music, I don’t know where I would be.”
It is his deep-rooted passion that has kept him in the industry for almost 13 years. Joe first drew attention in 1993 with his debut album, “Represent” (Relativity Records).
But it would not be until the release of his third effort, 1998’s “Don Cartagena,” that he would experience success. The album debuted at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 and earned the rapper his first gold plaque. That success would be followed by 2001’s platinum set “Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.).”
Even with these hefty accomplishments, Joe is not content to kick back yet. He has been putting in overtime as the release date for “All or Nothing” nears.
“I’ve been on the road for over 77 days across the country and I just extended the promo tour for five more weeks. There ain’t a rock I left unturned,” says Joe, who also guests on Jennifer Lopez’s current single, “Hold You Down.”
“This album’s definitely going to make all the Fat Joe fans that have been with me for 13 years really proud of me,” he says. “I’m not comfortable just yet though. I’m not going to be through with this game until people are totally convinced that Fat Joe’s a legend in this game.”
Excerpted from the June 4, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
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