Fat Joe’s beef with 50 Cent was a complex one, and it began as a tale of guilty by association as the war between 50 Cent and another artist bled into the wider hip hop world.
During the late 1990s, Fiddy began feuding with Ja Rule after a friend of Curtis Jackson’s robbed the rapper, and things got messy between the pair. In fact, their rivalry is still rolling on today, but their violent days are behind them, and now it plays out in a more jovial, light-hearted manner.
However, in the mid-’00s, there was nothing genial about their relationship, and legendary rapper Fat Joe got caught in the middle. In 2004, he jumped on Rule’s track, ‘New York’, and became an enemy of Jackson’s after his collaborator dissed the rapper on the effort.
“Apprentice you’re fired, you’re no longer desired, So take off them silly chains, put back on your wire, I’m on fire,” Ja Rule raps, aiming direct and poignant bars at New York’s 50 Cent.
However, rather than fire a direct hit back at Ja Rule, 50 aimed for another. The rapper decided to single out Joe on ‘Piggy Bank’, which made fun of his appearance. From this moment on, Joe declared an all-out war on 50 Cent and rarely let up. In response to the song, he fired back on the track ‘My FoFo’ and alleged that Jackson was using “steroids” during an interview.
Joe would take aim at his rival at every chance he got, and it looked like it would never end. Explaining his decision to side with Ja Rule, he once explained, “I gotta stand next to the man, the man was my brother when he didn’t have this beef. The game is: You choose a side. Sometimes your side don’t win!” However, in 2012 at the BET Awards, they collectively decided enough was enough and put an end to their feud in memory of their late friend, the music executive, Chris Lighty.
“I’m the real deal,” the rapper later explained during a podcast with Talib Kweli about how their war ended. “If we [had] bumped heads somewhere, it would have [gone] down physically 100 per cent. So when Chris Lighty died, I went to the funeral by myself. Where I come from, the morals I have is I gotta pay respects and show love to the family.
“I show up, and 50 Cent is there. He’s on the other side; I don’t see him.” Joe then revealed after he left, he received a phone call from Stephen Hill from BET who invited him to participate in a Chris Lighty tribute at the BET Awards, alongside Fiddy.
Joe continued, “When I show up to the BET Awards, we on point. We super focused. That’s the only way I can explain it legally. They say rehearsal. I perform ‘Lean Back’ and then 50 Cent comes out. He ends up right by where I’m at. And when the music stops, he puts his hands out and says ‘Peace for Chris Lighty.’ Chris Lighty wanted peace.”
He also poignantly noted how the next generation of artists should look at how they resolved things and realise that it doesn’t have to end in bloodshed. The rapper added, “It doesn’t have to result in us killing each other. The rap beef doesn’t have to turn violent in the streets. I hope everybody sees that and says ‘the shit they were saying to each other, and now they’re friends? It can happen.”
See the tribute to Chris Lighty below.