The 1990s was a golden age of hip-hop. The culture was thriving, and despite the East coast versus West Coast war, the ’90s saw the emergence of some incredible artists who produced exceptional records like ‘John Blaze’ by Fat Joe.
Fat Joe was one of the artists who surfaced in the early and mid-’90s. Previously a member of the Diggin’ In The Crates crew, alongside Lord Finesse Big L and others, Fat Joe, by the late ’90s, was forming his own collective that would later become the renowned Terror Squad. While gathering recruits such as Big Pun, Cuban Links and Remy ma for his Bronx-based collective, the rapper (real name José Cartagena) was simultaneously recording and releasing music as one of the first and biggest Latino rappers ever.
In 1998, while Big Pun was becoming the face of Terror Squad, Fat Joe was working on his third album, Don Cartagena. Wanting to establish himself as a new Fat Joe outside of Diggin’ In The Crates, Cartagena made sure to make his 1998 project a solid body of work with plenty of quality tracks and exciting features and that it had.
With his project featuring the likes of Puff Daddy (Diddy), Noreaga, Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony and more, the album was certified Gold. A feat that no other rapper from his background had achieved. However, although Big Pun would go on to outsell his counterpart, Fat Joe had one standout track that could be regarded as a New York classic, and that is the song ‘John Blaze’.
Produced by Ski Beatz, the song featured Big Pun, Nas and even Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. Released in 1998, this track was a line-up of all-stars, and every artist delivered a quality verse on the song. The posse cut that barely contains a chorus is a potent onslaught of pure lyricism completely devoid of fodder.
‘John Blaze’ is without a doubt a New York classic. That same year Roc-A-Fella artist, Noreaga, would go on to release another posse cut that is a New York classic entitled ‘Banned From TV’. Produced by Swizz Beatz between the two it is safe to say there was some magic in the city at that time. You can listen to the isolated vocals for Fat Joe’s ‘John Blaze’ below as well as see the music video for the epic track.