The reason Fat Joe’s best friend beat him up
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The reason Fat Joe's best friend beat him up

When Fat Joe first emerged as the leader of the Terror Squad, he was a hard-edged, highly aggressive and somewhat scary individual. However, in a miniseries with A&E entitled The Origins of Hip-Hop, the ‘Lean Back’ explained his trauma growing up. 

Fat Joe grew up in the Bronx at a time when New York City was known for being tough and hardcore. As such, he grew a hardened exterior at a young age. He was raised in the Forest Houses housing projects. However, he was bullied by a lot of his peers.

Speaking about it in the miniseries, the emcee (real name Jose Cartagena) stated, “Since 2 years old, he’s fat Joey forever. When I was in junior high, they would bully me every day. You know, I’m not gonna lie. It’s scary looking out the classroom window, knowing that there’s 20 guys waiting to beat my ass. They never fought me fair. They would always jump me.”

Cartagena recalled when his best friend, a kid named Leonard, was pulled away from him and made to beat him up, recounting, “They came up like, ‘Yo, why you be with this guy?’ [He said] ‘He’s my friend.’ They were like, ‘Well if you don’t jump him with us, we’re gonna beat you up every day too — and my friend Leonard jumped me with them.”

Joe remembered, “I went home, and I cried for so many hours. I had a black hoodie on, black jeans, and black Timberland chukkas. I’m tying my chukkas over and over again, and I was like, ‘I don’t give a f*ck, I swear to God,’ giving it to everybody!”

Cartagena admitted that these kinds of experiences shaped him as an emcee and became the foundation for his rap persona, unveiling, “That was the birth of Joey Crack. That was like, ‘I don’t give a f*ck about nobody, care about nobody, I am giving it to everybody.’ My heart turned black that day; I just lost it.”

However, he managed to overcome them and ended up becoming a multi-platinum artist with tracks such as ‘What’s Luv?’ and ‘Lean Back’. Much of his childhood is documented in his memoir The Book Of Jose. You can hear him speaking about his experiences below.