Fat Joe’s beef with 50 Cent in the mid 2000s may have coincided with his commercial peak as an artist, but the feud also came at a hefty cost.
In an excerpt from his newly-released memoir, The Book of Jose, the Bronx, New York native recalled how his fierce rivalry with the G-Unit general resulted in him losing a $20 million deal with Jordan Brand.
Joe pinpointed the collapse of the deal to the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, where he and 50 Cent exchanged shots in full view of the audience. Joe threw the first jab by thanking G-Unit for the heavy “police protection” inside Miami’s American Airlines Arena while presenting Missy Elliott with the award for Best Hip Hop Video.
50 fired back during his main show performance with Tony Yayo and Mobb Deep, calling Fat Joe a “pussy boy” and a “fuck boy.”
But what fans inside the arena and at home didn’t see was 50 Cent and G-Unit taunting Fat Joe during the show.
“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 daring me to get off the stage and physically confront him,” he wrote. “Then he went down to the floor and started slapping fives with JAY-Z and Diddy.”
Joe continued: “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.’”
Joey Crack went on to recall G-Unit members confronting him and Terror Squad as they left the arena, but police were able to separate the two crews and avoid a fight breaking out. Nevertheless, the damage was already done as Joe later received a phone call from Michael Jordan himself calling off their lucrative collaboration.
“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,” Joe wrote.
“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.”
He added: “‘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 anymore.’
“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.”
Fat Joe and 50 Cent eventually buried the hatchet at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards, with the tragic death of their mutual friend, music executive Chris Lighty, inspiring a peace treaty between the rap rivals.
“They asked me to do a tribute to Chris Lighty at the BET Awards. I showed up and it was 50 Cent, Missy, Busta, A Tribe Called Quest, all of us was doing our thing,” Joe explained on a recent episode of Steven A. Smith’s Know Mercy podcast.
“I go to rehearse and one of my main guys, Pistol Pete, is walking through the metal detector and they won’t let him through the security. And 50 Cent says: ‘Terror Squad. G-Unit. We together.’ Pistol Pete, who did 20 years in jail, who heard any story you could think, was looking like a deer [in] headlights. He could not believe he heard that.”
He added: “I performed and 50 ends up performing right after me and he stops right next to me, and he puts his hands out and he says: ‘Peace for Chris Lighty’ … And I said: ‘Peace.’ I shook his hand, and we’ve been brothers ever since.”