Joe Cartagena, a.k.a. Fat Joe, is one of mainstream hip-hop's few Latino rappers, as well as the rare bird able to establish a decade-long track record of success. Hailing from hip-hop hot spot the South Bronx, Joe came out of the box swinging, scoring the number one rap single, "Flow Joe" off his 1993 debut, Represent. Connecting the gangsta lifestyle with filmic Mafioso touchstones (1995's Jealous One's Envy featured a Christopher Walken monologue from King of New York), Joe rode high on thug rap thanks to the strong cinematic sensibilities of his raps and his appropriately pugilistic verbal volleys. Joe helped bring Big Pun into the game, and was crushed when the oversized rapper died of a heart attack in 2000. But ever resilient, Fat Joe returned, scoring a hit in 2002 with his Ashanti duet, "What's Luv," then followed it up this year with the club-inspired, number one hit recorded with his Terror Squad crew, "Lean Back." Though the gangsta craze buoyed his career, Joe's continually broadened his sound, demonstrating a touch for chart-topping duets, and proving one of rap's few ever-bankable stars.
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