Last year, Bronx rapper Fat Joe stopped by the radio show The Breakfast Club to discuss his memoir, The Book of José. Speaking to the hosts Charlemagne Tha God, DJ Envy and Angela Yee, the rapper spoke about his beef with Irv Gotti and his lawsuit with his accountant. However, he also contentiously delved into his controversial use of the n-word.
Addressing his ethnicity, his childhood and how his environment had a large effect on his identity, the rapper declared, “First of all my projects [estate] is 90%, I’ll give you 80% Black still!” He continued, “My grandmother’s projects is 99.9% Black to be clear. So I’m Spanish, I knew I was Latino, but the whole time I thought I was Black anyway. So my mom lives there 40 years before I was born, in this project, and I’m born blonde hair green-eyes. This shit crazy, right? She brings me there, the first thing is they go, ‘Oh look at this little n*gga Joey, he got green eyes.'”
Explaining how he had grown up around black people his whole life, the ‘Lean Back’ rapper carried on to state, “The minute I’m walking the guys in the building is like, ‘Yo look at that little n*gga Joe, little Fat Joe,’ that’s all I knew my whole life before even elementary.” Fat Joe has repeatedly come under scrutiny for his use of the word and following the 2020 BLM riots, conversations around the word’s use by non-Blacks in hip-hop music resurfaced.
The rapper (real name José Cartagena) put a lot of the criticism and scrutiny down to “woke culture” as he unveiled, “It’s a lot of woke society or something going on these days and Twitter and all that I guess they don’t understand where I come from, where I was born, or how I was raised or how I lived my whole entire life,” he continued. “…We know that the record states that this is a negative word and I wish we never used it. You know? and I try my best…really seriously I been trying to stop, but I been saying this since I was born.”
The rapper described a phenomenon that is ongoing in the Caribbean and Central America at the moment. Going into detail the rapper described how throughout the Caribbean and Central America, different races have mixed and evolved to such an extent that there are no Latinos that have 100% Hispanic lineage.
To a certain degree, the rapper is right, the era of indentured labour did see Chinese, Lebanese, Filipino and Indian immigrants settle in the Caribbean. However, to claim this means all Latinos are partially Black is a stretch. You can watch the full Breakfast club interview in the video below.