It’s just another day in the life of Joseph “Fat Joe” Cartagena as he calls UrbLife.com from the barber’s chair. He’s used to the constant multi-tasking though, and doesn’t miss a beat discussing the ins-and-outs of parenting as people buzz around him.
The father of three beams as he talks about his children, and admits to harboring a tinge of jealousy toward dads who are able to spend every day with their brood. In addition to his reasonable wish to have more quality time, the Bronx, New York native has hopes that his kids value work ethic and good morals in their lives.
Read on as Fat Joe enters our Parent Trap…
How old are your kids, and what was your frame of mind about having kids?
Fat Joe: My oldest son is Joey, he’s 18. When I had him I was very young. I love my son dearly, but I didn’t feel like I was ready to have kids at the time. From time to time I told my mom and dad they should have educated me on the responsibilities of having a kid. He was a special needs child, I raised him with my parents. His mom couldn’t handle him, and instead of him going to a center we raised him all of his life. I had to learn the responsibilities of being a parent the hard way.
My younger son Ryan is 15, he’s a good kid with a 97 average in school, but I have to stay strict with him. I always said I would never hit my children, but then when you get hip to the fact that you’ll never hit them they go ahead and get real loose. I don’t believe in abuse at all and I think no one should abuse their kids, but they shouldn’t abuse the parents either. My daughter [Azariah] is 4-years-old and she’s the love of my life – she’s the boss and she runs the show.
What was it like having a daughter at this stage in the game?
FJ: It’s the greatest, there’s nothing better on earth than having a daughter. She’s just the cutest thing, she runs me and the whole house. She orders her older brothers around and it’s crazy! [laughs]
I’m sure with big brothers and a dad she’ll be smarter than the average girl when she hits her teens.
FJ: I don’t lie to my kids, I tell them the truth. You can’t sugarcoat the world, or else they’ll get put in a position where they don’t know what life is really about.
Do you have any worries for your kids being out [in the world]with their friends?
FJ: Absolutely, but I work so hard so that my kids can grow up in a nice neighborhood and go to private schools. Everybody doesn’t have the comfort and luxury of that, but it’s very scary out there for the kids. I have this reputation of being a tough guy and growing up under tough circumstances. The last thing I want is my sons thinking they have to be that way.
Are your kids aware of your fame? Do they get into problems with other kids, or receive favoritism because of who their dad is?
FJ: I don’t think it happens like that, but my son and daughter enjoy it. He loves being Fat Joe’s son, girls might think he’s a little cuter. My daughter doesn’t want any girls next to me, she’s cool with everything else but she’s very territorial.
How do you deal with censorship with your kids? Are there any shows you don’t let them watch, or is there music you don’t let them listen to?
FJ: My daughter’s only 4, so of course I try to stop her from hearing profanity… but I think you just have to be a parent. Too many parents are busy not being parents, then they get mad when they act like Hip Hop is raising their kids. Parents ask me to raise their kids all the time, I can’t do that. You gotta let your kids know that there’s nothing wrong with liking hardcore Hip Hop, but the most important thing is education, respecting your family and working hard for your kids.
My kids watch me work very hard so that they can have whatever they want. They’re not living in a fantasy world where they don’t see the ups and downs, and the struggles involved in everything I have to do. So they appreciate how hard their father works.
What are your thoughts about your sons working? Do you want them to go out and get a job?
FJ: I want them to go to school to get a great education and be a doctor, lawyer or whatever the biggest, most positive dream for a parent is, that’s what I want. I technically don’t want my son [Ryan] to be a rapper, he wants to rap but I would like it better if he did something else.
What happens if your daughter comes to you when she’s 15 and says she wants to be a singer?
FJ: I would tell her the business is rough and not as easy as you think. The biggest misconception kids have is that you wake up every morning drinking [champagne]with three girls in your bed and that you drive Phantom drops all day. They don’t realize the odds of you becoming a successful artist are like one in every 10 million. They don’t understand the struggle of what we go through. I don’t even have time [for other things].
This is my job, and everybody wants to be a rapper because they think it’s the easiest thing to be. They think, “I don’t have to hammer nails, lift concrete or drive a bus” but they don’t realize it’s a grind and struggle to be successful in this game.
How do you feel about your daughter seeing images of all of these female “role models” acting crazy?
FJ: I had this discussion with my wife today, she said there’s nothing wrong with it. I asked if we should have our daughter coming to a video shoot where the girls are dressed all sexy, she said we’ll just teach her right from wrong. I disagree with that, I think she shouldn’t be susceptible to that type of behavior at such a young age. When she’s 15 we can converse and have dialogue about it, that’s a different thing.
I believe that morals have to be taught at home. If you have a father who’s not being a father and abandoning their kids, and you have a mother who’s busy shaking her a** all over then what do you expect the kids to be? You have to instill morals in your kids and let them know how important it is [to have them].
In cases where you and your wife may have differences of opinion on raising the kids, how do you work that out?
FJ: My daughter’s still young, and unfortunately she has a father who isn’t a regular father. If I was a 9-to-5 guy she would never be around video stuff, but since this is what I do she has to come to the studio and to my job at the video. Even as a father it’s a gift and curse, because yeah, we want to be rich and famous and to give our families whatever we want, but everything has a catch 22.
I’m jealous of the fathers that have a 9-to-5 and come home after work to know what their kid’s homework looks like, how their daily living activities were and they get to watch certain shows with them. I can’t do that. On Father’s Day [June 20] I have a show in Wisconsin – I can’t celebrate Father’s Day with my family because I’m busy paying the bills. The only thing I regret about having this career is not being able to spend as much time with my kids as I would love to.
What advice would you give to a young guy that just had a new baby?
FJ: Just be a father, never abandon your kids. If for some strange reason you can’t work it out with the mother, then always take care of your kids and instill morals in them. Work hard to give them what they need and want, the most disgusting sh*t on earth is a man that child support has to track down so that he can take care of his kids. He’s disgusting and a piece of sh*t, that’s my opinion.
Follow Fat Joe on Twitter @FatJoe and on Instagram @FatJoe