1998 would mark a turning point for Fat Joe. Two albums deep, the Bronx native had produced hits like “Represent” and “Jealous Ones Envy“. With Joe’s brazen delivery, sharp cadence, and a keen ear for intricate sample-based production, he would go on to rise the ranks, leaving the small Relativity Records and forming his own Terror Squad imprint with Big Beat/Atlantic. A major-label draw in the last wave of the “shiny suit era” lead by Puff Daddy and Bad Boy. Joe had also garnered mainstream embrace through his perceived protege, Big Pun.
Coming off the heels of N.O.R.E’s “Banned From Tv” posse anthem and LL Cool J’s “4, 3, 2, 1” with Redman, Method Man, Canibus, and DMX. Fat Joe needed an official posse cut of his own. “John Blaze,” a popular expression for “dope” in the day would be the big-budget movement of the critically acclaimed album Don Cartagena. With the help of new audiences, Joey Crack’s anthem would hit Billboard’s Top 7 with this single, involving Nas, Raekwon, Big Pun, and Jadakiss.
Fat Joe has managed to still meet his core and appease the greater masses in one album through the new millennium and into today. The Bronx spitta is often overlooked but definitely worthy of consideration when the subject of TOP 50 rappers emerges.
Check out his classic video “John Blaze” below.