The following is an excerpt from The Book of Jose, a memoir by the recording artist Fat Joe and Shaheem Reid.
IT WAS MTV that brought us into each other’s path. During the 2005 Video Music Awards in Miami, at the American Airlines Arena, me and 50 Cent were both scheduled to be part of the show. 50’s crew was extra thick that year. He had his regular G-Unit MCs there: Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck. He had just signed Mobb Deep, so Havoc and Prodigy were with him, too. Ma$e was also supposed to have joined 50’s label and he was runnin’ with them. Plus 50 had brought some extra muscle.
But Terror Squad was deep too—the label and the crew. All of my men-at-arms were with me.
I knew it would get ugly with both of our factions sitting in the audience, so I purposely stayed backstage with my guys for most of the show. I wasn’t scared for us. I was scared for them. My team was ready to decapitate someone. The Squad has so much love for me, they would never let anyone disrespect me without serious repercussions. I knew there was a strong possibility somebody would get hurt with all of us in the crowd. I didn’t want to disrespect MTV, because they always showed me love. I didn’t want to disrespect hip-hop.
Halfway through the show, I went out on the stage to give Missy Elliott an award. What the audience at home didn’t see was that during the commercial break beforehand, 50 Cent got out of his seat and started walking the house. He went up to the audience in the cheap seats and started waving to me. It was like he was dar- ing me to get off the stage and physically confront him. Then he went down to the floor and started slapping fives with Jay-Z and Diddy.
He was really trying to antagonize me as I was standing there waiting to speak on the mic but I wasn’t trying to pay him no mind. Then 50 actually came onstage for a few seconds. He stood several feet away from me.
I was saying to myself, Okay, we’re about to fight. We’re about to get it on right here at the VMAs.
When the show came back on—this is live TV, mind you—he went back to his seat. The G-Unit started yelling at me while I’m reading off the teleprompter. The Terror Squad, offstage in the wings, started barking back. That’s when I dropped my jab: “I feel safe with all the police protection courtesy of G-Unit.”
Me and my crew left the building after that. As we were head- ing out, some G-Unit guys streamed backstage to confront us. The police separated us and we were able to leave without a fight. Later in the show, 50 came out for his performance, a medley of songs featuring G-Unit and Mobb Deep. Tony Yayo’s “So Seductive” was the closing performance and when they finished, 50 yells into the mic, “Fat Joe is pussy, man. Pussy boy. Fuck boy.” You could hear the curses on TV from what they tell me. You damn sure heard it in the arena. He was going so bad they had to cut his mic.
The funny thing is, right before the show, me and 50 were both saying in our interviews that we were done with the beef and ready to move on. But the VMAs turned Fat Joe vs. 50 Cent on flame broil. It’s one thing to beef with each other on albums and mixtapes, but when you beef live on MTV during the channel’s biggest night, things are serious.
I was supposed to be the first artist ever to collaborate with Jordan Brand. I’ve always rocked the most Jordans, always had the 172 flyest, most exclusive Jordans out of any celeb. No one can compete with my sneaker collection. Me and Michael Jordan are actual friends. I met with him six times going over designs for the Fat Joe Jordan. Some of those meetings were literally just me and him, brainstorming, bouncing ideas off each other. But after the VMAs, Mike deaded the deal.
“You know I love you, Big Joe, but you’re too hot right now,” he told me on a phone call. “I wanted to do it, but I’m not into all that rap beef. With all this controversy, we can’t do the sneaker any- more.”
That was it. I lost about $20 million by not getting that deal. I lost out on other endorsements too. Promoters definitely didn’t book me and 50 Cent on the same shows. Everybody had to keep us separated. But as fate would have it, after the VMAs, we didn’t see each other again in person for almost a decade.
Copyright © 2022 by Joseph Antonio Cartagena. Published by Roc Lit 101, a joint venture between Roc Nation LLC and One World, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.