One-On-One

What Fat Joe and Remy Ma Talk About Over Pasta

It was just as insane as you’d expect. Think: relationship advice, platinum singles, and favorite cereals.

By: Alicia Cesaro
Photography: Alec Kugler

When your bookings manager calls and asks you if you want to go eat pasta with Fat Joe and Remy Ma—as in *the* Fat Joe and Remy Ma (who are headlining tonight at Powerhouse 2016 at the Barclays Center)—at Carbone, you enthusiastically agree really fast. Then you realize later on that, oh yeah, you’re actually on your way to go eat Italian food with the Terror Squad hip-hop legends that made your theme songs decades apart—in both 2004 and 2016. The old school red sauce Village eatery is one of Joe’s favorites, where he’s well known among staff, has a table in the back and knows the entire menu by heart. Which I found out after Joe ordered from memory the fresh-made mozzarella, pasta, clams, branzino, garlic bread and just about every other delicious thing you could think up before even sitting down. While we waited for the food to arrive, Remy and Joe got chatting, and honestly it really felt like eavesdropping. The pair are such good friends—the old basically family kind of friends—that when they get together and reminisce, the fifteen years’ worth of stories just flow. And they discuss everything together: their music, their lives, their kids, their prison time (seriously), and their cereal preferences. So there’s no topic left untouched, which also brings me to saying that while you may find a lot of what Joe and Remy say to be unbelievable (because a lot of it is just so over-the-top crazy), it’s all true—at least according to them. And believe me, after breaking bread with them, I believe it all.

 

On foodie tendencies and hard time:

Remy Ma: Last time I came to Carbone I was on a diet and I couldn’t eat anything. Most of the time we are on diets at the same time. One time we were in California and someone brought us a box of donuts with fruity pebbles and oreos on top—they were the size of this table. And they smelled so good! I wanted to eat them, but I knew we couldn’t!

Fat Joe: They were donuts on steroids, though, every donut told their own story.

RM: I love cereal; if you look at my house, the top of my refrigerator, in a cabinet, it’s just like the cereal aisle. My favorite is Waffle Crisp, it really tastes just like waffles—when I find it I buy it in bulk.

FJ: Mine is Peanut Butter Crunch. If I die, I mean death row, last meal, that’s part one of my requirement. Can I get some Peanut Butter Crunch, on the way out? First a big lobster, steak, pasta, then an ill dessert and then last minute before I die, a little bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch.

RM: This is weird—the worst time of my life was when I was in prison—but every time I’m dieting I put myself in that mind-set. I couldn’t have anything I liked, I went without Popeyes for seven years, so the next seven weeks without fried chicken isn’t going to kill me.

 

FJ: I did three months [in jail]; there was this one lady officer, she had a crush on me and I used to try and convince her to bring chicken wings and french fries, and she’d say no every time. I was like, ‘Please sneak me some food in here!’ There was an Italian chef locked up, he’s still my friend to this day, I moved him in and he used to cook for me every day.

RM: I just want you to know he has the craziest stories ever, and when I was a teenager I used to question him, and I swear to god that they are all true. I’ve encountered people months or years later who will verify his stories. They sit down with you and recount the entire story. So if it sounds crazy, it’s true.

RM: My favorite food is Popeyes, but besides that I’m a dessert person. I designed a room at my wedding, I want to die in this type of room. There was a man making crepes, chocolate-covered fruit, a chocolate fountain, cakes, pastries! And I had a takeout section with a wing bar—barbecue, hot and fried wings. I had a french fry bar and ice cream station. I had every food you can imagine. I never realized I was a foodie until I met other people who told me I was a foodie, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s what it’s called? I thought I was just fat!’

FJ: We’re not fatties, we’re foodies.

RM: In this industry people want skinny girls, everyone wants to be skinny. I don’t really care but that’s how it is, and in person and on camera is different. I try not to give in to the pressures of society, I’m not little—I’m almost 5’10, I don’t care [about] being a size eight or ten.

 

On their relationship now versus ten years ago:

RM: We have conversations [now] that we’ve never, ever had ever in life. Our relationship is more mature and healthy, we understand each other. He listens and actually takes my advice sometimes.

FJ: We talk about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, years ago we’d say, ‘Fuck that bullshit.’

RM: I called him the other day, he was giving me tips on how I can vote (because once you have a felony in New York, that's one of the stipulations). We both have kids, so we’re dealing with teenagers. He is just as crazy about parenting as me, so he’s the only one that I can call when everyone else thinks I’m out of my mind. When you come from where we come from, there’s a 99.9% chance that you’re not going to be shit. You might be one of the lucky ones that make it out struggling paycheck to paycheck.

FJ: You learn a lot through one’s path in life and from watching a lot of other people and realizing it takes teamwork to make the dream work. Not one person has the assets to everything, one time I thought I did. I’m really smart at certain things but I suck at computers, so why don’t we get the smartest person we know on the earth that does computers to be down with us? Now we know that it’s about assembling a team that’s great at what they do. I always take Remy’s suggestions and she’s on the money, she knows exactly what’s hot.

 

On social media:

RM: He’s slightly obsessive with Facebook Live now. He didn’t even know what it was at first, then a week later I can’t have a decent word with him, he’s like, ‘Hold on, Rem, talk to my Facebook.’ Same thing with his Snapchat!

The other day I was so mad because Snoop Dogg busts out into this random freestyle dedicated to me, and I can’t wait to see it but Joe only recorded it on his Snap so now it’s gone!

FJ: The only thing that scares me about Snapchat is I don’t know who’s out there watching. I know it works because DJ Khaled tells a million people to come and they come. I was in the car Snapping and singing Drake, ‘I think I’d lie for you...’ I get a crazy text one second later from my wife asking, ‘Who the hell you gonna lie for?!’ I’m explaining to her that it’s a Drake song… So you gotta watch what you say, shaking my head, you gotta watch what you say on the Snap.

 

RM: R. Kelly sang at my birthday party, which was a dream come true because he’s top three best singers of all time for me. I was Snapchatting like crazy every song!

Social media is great because you get to interact with people that you probably would have never encountered, they’re in places where they will probably never be able to interact with artists and it gives them the opportunity to not only interact, but maybe be an artist themselves. It’s also a platform where you can say and do anything that you want, no matter how grimy or disrespectful—they feel they can comment what they want. But not on my page!

We knew “All the Way Up” was going to be big, that was our intention of making it, but I don’t think that we knew it was going to turn into an inspirational theme song. From teenagers with “All the Way Up” on their graduation caps to senior citizens getting out of their wheelchair and taking steps singing ‘nothing can stop me…’ It was just crazy—we didn’t expect that, it’s amazing.

 

On winning Track of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards:

FJ: For Song of the Year we were up against two Drake songs, “Controlla” and “Hot Line Bling,” DJ Khaled “I Got the Keys” and Desiigner “Panda,” I got scared when they announced “Panda.” I don't know why but I knew we were going to beat Drake and Khaled, I didn’t think we were going to win against “Panda,” so I wasn’t prepared. I just shut down when we won the award because so much was flashing in front of me.

Just thinking about how many people gave up on us—it just hit me at that moment. I was on a major label, selling two million records, two million people were buying my album. I put an album out that sold a half a million, but they thought I was a failure—even though half a million people still thought Fat Joe was dope, it wasn’t good enough for them. All that shit rushed me right when I touched that stage.

 

I was more hurt because I gave my life to this culture, people don’t realize how much it takes out of us to create music, to promote, to get up every day and do what we got to do. Me and Rem the other night were just kicking back, like just going into every bullet scar club in New York, just performing for free, just popping up on them. They call it ‘pop up’ now, so we were popping up and rocking everywhere. But all that takes time, meanwhile all that day we were doing interviews and press and this and that, and on Mother’s Day I’m not with my mom or wife, I’m performing for somebody else’s mother.

I had to fly out right after the awards to go to my father’s birthday and got there late, but they still appreciated it and appreciate me. And then when it comes to business we got to give you, what do we got to do, we got to win the Superbowl for you to acknowledge us? I gotta die or something? We’re twenty years in the game, we’ve been through some shit, she came out of prison, she did eight years. What kind of girl comes out after eight years and has a fucking number-one TV show, an anthem and platinum record.

When we won, Rem went in and she spoke from the heart, she let them know how she felt, but bad people watching and we ain’t giving them all of that. We gave them enough to let them know we love you, we appreciate everything, she went through so much and we went through so much and we can’t even express to you how much we feel. But we ain’t letting the haters get this. And because they make memes these days.

 

RM: Him and my husband are so scared of memes!

FJ: It’s up to the people to make any song a hit. There’s some records I could swear were hits, but the people didn’t support it, so that’s the only obstacle. I told Remy “All the Way Up” was a smash hit, but let’s see if the people want to make it a hit. People embraced it and the rest was history! It was first a street smash, “All the Way Up” was in every strip club, every bullet scar club, then it turned into radio smash, then a 9-5 blue-collar working society, it didn't really go pop until the NFL picked it up as their theme song and the white people were like, ‘This is a new song, I love this shit!’ Fans at the games singing ‘I'm All the Way Up.’ It keeps getting rebirthed—top ten on the iTunes, every Sunday on NFL, and now the Knicks just made it their theme song. It won’t stop.

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