How Fat Joe helped Biggie Smalls secure a feature
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How Fat Joe helped Biggie Smalls secure a feature

Fat Joe is a legend and has been the face of Latino hip-hop for years. A product of the early and mid-90s, the Bronx artist was previously a member of the Diggin’ In The Crates crew alongside Lord Finesse Big L and others. However, in the late 1990s, he formed 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 Hispanic rappers ever.

Although Fat Joe (real name Jose Cartagena) is now known as a successful rapper who rose out of the Forest Houses, a low-income housing project in the Bronx, he was a huge name locally and a renowned New York emcee before he received nationwide fame.

In fact, as a local musician, Cartagena was close to Brooklyn legend Biggie Smalls (real name Christopher Wallace). That said, in an interview with Angie Martinez for her podcast Iconic Records, Fat Joe revealed that he played a hand in helping Wallace secure a feature for his 1997 album Life After Death.

Speaking to the host, Cartagena unveiled that he helped Biggie Smalls get in touch with the iconic Cleveland rap collective Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The crew were responsible for the 1994 hit ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ and were a big hit in the 1990s. However, during the height of the East Coast vs West Coast feud, they initially ignored Biggie’s calls.

Speaking about how he helped bridge the gap between the Cleveland crew and Wallace, Cartagena explained, “Biggie hit me up and was like, ‘Yo bro, I’m trying to get in touch with your guys. They don’t wanna do it. They ignoring me.’ They didn’t wanna do a song with Biggie. And just for Biggie to think that advanced because New York wasn’t up on Bone Thugs like that.”

The ‘Lean Back’ musician continued, “He knew that they was gigantic, and he was like, ‘Yo, I need to do a song with them,’ and I was like, ‘Um alright.’ And he was like, ‘Nah, I know you the plug. You can do it.’ I was like, ‘Alright, Big, I got you.'”

However, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was signed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records and had strong ties to the West Coast with anthems produced by DJ Yella and DJ U-Neek. As such, they were very friendly with 2Pac and didn’t want to break their allegiance. 

Explaining this to Martinez, Fat Joe explained, “So, then I called them, and they had already been cool with 2Pac. And so they was like, ‘Yo Joe, we can’t do it. We cool with 2Pac.’ And I’m like, ‘Yo bro, this is B.I.G! You know what it is to do a song with B.I.G.?’ So, I convinced them — and shout-out Steve Lobel — and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony showed up to the studio. They did the record’ Bone and Biggie, Biggie.’ And so, every time I see that picture, I laugh, but that’s why we got that.”

You can listen to Biggie Smalls ‘Notorious Thugs’ featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in the video below.