Nuevo Culture

Fat Joe Says He Grew Up “Knowing He’s Latino, But Thinking He’s Black”

Fat Joe has more to say about his self-proclaimed ties to the Black community. 

In an interview with NPR’s The Limits With Jay Williams, Fat Joe spoke on why he feels connected to Hip-Hop culture and Black communities. The Bronx-raised artist claimed that the neighborhood he grew up shaped his outlook on his background and cultural ties. “My projects, my neighborhood was predominantly Black. My grandmother’s neighborhood was 99.9% black, where there was no popular Latinos or nothing… And so when I’m born, I’m not listening to salsa and all that,” he started. “I’m listening to Gloria Gaynor. I’m listening to Stephanie Mills. I’m listening to, ‘I Will Survive.’ That’s what my house was playing, right?”

“So I grew up [with] blonde hair, green eyes, knowing I’m Latino, but thinking I’m Black. Don’t know how to explain it to you any other way,” Fat Joe explained before going on about how things changed when he met people from his background, “And so it wasn’t until I went to high school and met another Latino brother that was a real dude, and he said, ‘Yo, come hang out with me in my hood.’ And ten blocks away was like another world. So when we went to his hood, it was 90% Puerto Rican, Latino flags in the window… I could not believe that it was like Puerto Rican heaven over there.”

These comments come after Fat Joe came under fire for hosting the BET Awards as a non-Black artist of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent. And people were unhappy with the idea that the Awards ceremony on a Black-centered network and celebrates Black talent and music was not being hosted by someone from the community.

In addition, this recent interview follows weeks after Fat Joe defended his use of the N-word in his music with comments to The Source, by saying he grew up in the birthplace of hip hop and during the birth of hip hop. 

“First of all, my projects is 90%, I’ll give you 80% Black still,” Fat Joe said. “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***a Joey; he got green eyes.’ The minute I’m walking, the guys in the building is like, ‘Yo look at that little n***a Joe, little Fat Joe,’ that’s all I knew my whole life before even elementary.”