How Fat Joe turned a basketball rivalry into rap beef
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How Fat Joe turned a basketball rivalry into rap beef

Fat Joe has been involved in a lot of beef over the years. As the founder of the Terror Squad, alongside artists such as Remy Ma and Big Pun, the Bronx native was one of the most feared rappers in New York City.

During their rise in the late 1990s and early-2000s, the Terror Squad was coming up against a new, mighty crew. Roc-a-Fella. With artists such as Beanie Sigel, Kanye West, Cam’Ron and others, it was only a matter of time before a clash of the titans. However, the root of Fat Joe’s feud with Jay-Z was strange. 

During an interview on Angie Martinez’s WEtv show, Untold Stories of Hip Hop, Fat Joe (real name Jose Cartagena) explained the origin of the beef and unveiled that it began all began on a basketball court in Rucker Park in Harlem.

The basketball court is a legendary spot and is known for its street basketball tournaments. In the late 1990s, Cartagena formed his own team, the Terror Squad and rappers from areas of New York used to convene there for games and competitions.

Online music magazine Complex once revealed that Diddy used to bring Allen Iverson and LeBron James to the Rucker, who were up-and-coming students at the time. Fat Joe told Martinez that he was heavily involved in the competitions each year and used to step up as a coach.

One year, Jay-Z decided to get involved, and both teams made it to the final. However, even though “players were flown in” from across the country, Hov’s team never showed up and forfeited the win.

Fat Joe referenced this on his hit ‘Lean Back’ when he rapped, “I don’t wanna speak about the Rucker / Not even Pee Wee Kirkland could imagine this / My n*gga didn’t have to play to win the championship.”

After this, diss records began to fly, going in both directions. The pair didn’t speak for over ten years. However, through various middlemen, in 2016, the two managed to repair their relationship and Cartagena secured a Jay-Z feature for his ‘All The Way Up (remix)’.