The year, 1993. The place, 45 Orchard Street, New York, New York — home to the L.E.S.'s revered intimate studio space: The Lyricist Lounge. Founded by Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall, the small spot was the ultimate hub for up and coming emcees. "This is where rappers would go and battle and all that," recalls frequent visitor to the since debunked place, Fat Joe. According to the Bronx rhymer, it was one of his many trips to the lounge that yielded one special moment.
"I was going there to give the DJ my vinyl, I had just got my vinyl for "Flow Joe," and Biggie came on stage with a backpack and Puff [Daddy] was with him." Within that moment, Joe says he watched Biggie battled "like 10 different dudes" and "crushed all 10 of them." By registering what had taken place, Joe summarized the moment in a few words: "This nigga's a problem."
Fast forward to after the showdown, B.I.G. and Joe quickly developed a friendship. "That's where we originally met and then we kept in touch from there." Through this friendship, Joe says the pair went on to work on several things behind the scenes — including a planned joint album. "Me and Biggie was supposed to do an album together," the "Lean Back" rapper explains. Not only that, but because of this said LP, the project led to Joe landing a deal with Atlantic Records.
"That's how I got my deal, because Biggie told Puff and this was around the time that he had all that beef. So he was like, "Yo Joe, let's make an album together. You the Spanish don, I'm the Black don." So we did like four songs, but we was talking reckless on them records — beyond," he says.
Although nothing from these sessions ever released outside the studio, the buzz behind the collaborations sent Atlantic Records running to Fat Joe's door. "Atlantic Records heard about it and Craig Kallman came up to me and was like "Yo I want to give you your own label deal." I didn't even deserve it, I came from one album on Relatively [Records] with "Flow Joe" and just because Biggie said 'Yo we doing a album,' [Kallman] came down and was ready to give me a label."