Born as Joseph Antonio Cartagena but better known by his stage name, Fat Joe, this Bronx emcee has been a cornerstone of the hip-hop scene since his debut album “Represent” dropped in ’93. Whether he’s trading bars with the late Big Pun on classics like “Twinz (Deep Cover 98)” or serving up chart-topping hits like “Lean Back,” Joey Crack’s impact on the game is undeniable.

His discography, which spans over three decades, is as diverse as it is influential. Early works such as “Jealous One’s Envy” showcased his gritty street rhymes and knack for storytelling, while later albums like “Loyalty” and “The Elephant in The Room” demonstrated his ability to evolve with the genre and stay relevant. And who can ignore the commercial success of “Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E)”? Still, there’s something to be said for his collaborative efforts too, notably “Plata O Plomo” with Remy Ma and “Family Ties” with Dre of Cool & Dre, proving Joe’s ability to both lead and synergize artistically.

Over the years, Fat Joe’s sound has morphed, grown, and matured without losing its rawness, giving us everything from boom-bap anthems to club-ready hits. He’s a hip-hop chameleon, effortlessly blending into any beat he graces. So let’s get into it. From the rugged rawness of “Represent” to the polished sounds of “Family Ties,” here are the best of Fat Joe’s albums ranked.

13. Darkside III

Darkside III

Released: 2013

Label: R4 So Valid, LLC

In 2013, your boy Fat Joe came through with the third and final instalment of his “The Darkside” series, aptly titled “Darkside III”. Released on the third of September, the project further showcased Joey Crack’s gritty lyricism and hard-hitting bangers – an attribute he’d cultivated since his D.I.T.C. days, no doubt. You ain’t gonna find any chart toppers here, ’cause this tape was all about that raw, underground aesthetic. The production, handled mostly by Streetrunner and LV, was nothing short of stellar, providing a classic, dark East Coast backdrop for Joe to devastate. Critics might say it was a step back from his more commercial ventures, but real heads know what’s up. On “Darkside III”, Fat Joe brought that passion back, that grimy New York vibe from the golden era, reminding us all why he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the game.

12. Jealous Ones Still Envy 2 (J.O.S.E. 2)

Jealous Ones Still Envy 2 (J.O.S.E. 2)

Released: 2009

Label: R4 So Valid, LLC

Features: Lil Wayne, Ron Browz, Akon, Pleasure P, Rico Love, T-Pain, OZ, TA, “Lil Kim”, Benisour, Raekwon, Swizz Beatz, Rob Cash, Cherlise

2)”, a sequel to his 2001’s critically acclaimed “J.O.S.E.”. But peep this, it ain’t just a sequel in name. Fat Joe meant business when he titled it, bringing back that blend of street tales and club bangers, embodied in cuts like “One” featuring the illustrious Akon, and “Cupcakes”, where he gets down with Benisour. The production on this joint was handled by heavy hitters such as The Inkredibles, Ron Browz, and Rico Love, ladling out beats that kept the speakers bumpin’. But let’s keep it a buck, some critics felt it didn’t live up to the standard set by the original J.O.S.E. Regardless, this project further cemented Fat Joe’s authority and versatility in the game, proving he could still get the club jumpin’ and the streets talking, even a decade after his emergence. Mad respect to Joe Crack for that.

11. The Darkside, Vol. 1

The Darkside, Vol. 1

Released: 2010

Label: R4 So Valid, LLC

Features: Clipse, “Camron”, Jeezy, Trey Songz, Rico Love, R. Kelly, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes

1″, dropped in the heat of summer 2010, was a dark horse in Fat Joe’s catalog, no pun intended. This joint was like a grizzled veteran stepping onto the court and showing the young guns he still got game. Filled with grimy, street-certified beats and gritty narratives, this album saw Joe Crack return to his roots. The production roster read like a who’s who of hip-hop royal class, with names like Just Blaze, DJ Premier, and Scram Jones serving up raw, vintage East Coast beats that allowed Fat Joe’s lyrics to shine. Standout tracks like “Slow Down (Ha Ha)” featuring Young Jeezy and the soul-drenched “I’m Gone” were nothing short of bangers. Critics like the heads at AllMusic acknowledged its hardcore stance, making it one of his most respected projects, though it didn’t get much commercially love. The Darkside shined bright and reminded the game what Don Cartagena brought to the hip-hop table.

10. Represent

Represent

Released: 1993

Label: Columbia

Features: Diamond D, Grand Puba, Apache, Kool G Rap, Gismo, Kieth Kieth, King Sun

This was the dawn of Joe Crack, a gritty Bronx storyteller spinning a web of street narratives with a delivery as raw as the concrete jungle from where he hailed. This 12-track project, brimming with hardcore beats and rhymes, introduced us to that gutter style that would define Fat Joe’s legacy. Cuts like “Flow Joe” and “Watch the Sound” became instant classics, cementing his position in the game. Producers like Diamond D, Lord Finesse, and The Beatnuts blessed the album with their boom-bap beats that had heads nodding and systems rattling. But let’s face it – the album might have been a little too rough around the edges for some, and a bit too New York-centric for others. Regardless, “Represent” was raw, uncut, and unapologetically real – a fitting entry into the hip-hop scene for the Terror Squad general.

9. Jealous One’s Envy

Jealous One's Envy

Released: 1995

Label: Columbia/Legacy

Features: KRS-One, DJ Premier

This joint was where Fat Joe started showing his lyrical prowess, with hard-hitting tracks like “Success” and “Envy”. He wasn’t doing it alone though, he brought out fellow Bronx bomber KRS-One for “Bronx Tale”, and the chemistry was straight fire. The production was handled by cats like DJ Premier, L.E.S, and Domingo, giving the album a raw and gritty, yet polished sound that painted a vivid picture of the streets. But, word is bond, this album wasn’t about radio hits or billboard charts, it was about street credibility and spitting bars that spoke to the real heads. Some critics knocked Joe for not evolving his style, but many praised it as an unfiltered capture of the essence of mid-90s East Coast hip-hop. Fat Joe was still carving out his niche in the rap game, and “Jealous One’s Envy” was where he really started to flex.

8. Loyalty

Loyalty

Released: 2002

Label: RT Industries

Features: “Baby”, Scarface, Tony Sunshine, Remy, Ronda Blackwell, Lamajic, Ginuwine, Armageddon, Prospect

Joseph Antonio Cartagena, constructing a testament to his ever present devotion to his roots, his crew, and the hip-hop game itself. This wasn’t just an album, it was a mission statement. The lead single “Crush Tonight”, featuring Ginuwine, let y’all know this wasn’t your average Hip-hop album, blending Joe’s gritty rhymes with smooth R&B hooks. Let’s talk about the ode to his fallen comrade, “Life Goes On”, where Joe teamed up with Trick Daddy and Scarface, delivering heartfelt bars that hit you right in the feels. But it wasn’t all deep cuts and introspective joints. Tracks like “Bust at You”, where Baby and Scarface joined the lyrical fray, brought that raw street vibe that we’ve come to associate with Joe Crack. While “Loyalty” didn’t quite match the commercial success of its predecessor, J.O.S.E., it kept the streets buzzin’, showing Fat Joe’s ability to balance his rough, street storytelling with mainstream appeal.

7. The Elephant In The Room

The Elephant In The Room

Released: 2008

Label: R4 So Valid, LLC

Features: Dre, Plies, Lil Wayne, Swizz Beatz, J. Holiday, KRS-One, DJ Premier

This was Joe fully embracing the mainstream, gaining serious chart traction with features from powerhouses like Lil Wayne and J. Holiday. “I Won’t Tell” was a straight banger, silky smooth and a staple in every whip and club – that track climbed the Billboard charts like it was on a mission. And don’t forget about “Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’,” a percussive monster with that Miami bounce. Of course, some heads griped that Joe was drifting from his roots, said he was watering his stuff down for commercial appeal. But “The Elephant In The Room” showed us a Joe that was evolving, one that knew how to balance the street tales with chart-friendly hits. An Elephant indeed, Joe was here to make some noise and he did that, stomp by stomp.

6. Family Ties

Family Ties

Released: 2019

Label: RNG / EMPIRE

Features: Dre, Jeremih, Bryson Tiller, Big Bank DTE, Cardi B, Anuel AA, Remy Ma, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Wayne

“Family Ties” dropped in late 2019 and it was clear these cats were not playing. They lured in some heavy hitters for features like Eminem, Lil Wayne, Mary J. Blige, and even the late Nipsey Hussle. What’s more, they scored street cred with production credits from the likes of StreetRunner and Infamous. Hits like “YES” and “Lord Above” bang in the whip, but also speak to the trials and tribulations of hood life. Now, some critics might say Joe’s flow wasn’t as venomous as it was on earlier joints, but that’s missing the point. Fat Joe was in his bag on this record, showing his adaptability to the game’s evolution while still repping hip-hop culture. It’s a testament to Joe’s longevity and unwavering commitment to hip-hop, that he could navigate changes in styles and the passing of eras to drop arguably one of his most complete bodies of work.

5. Don Cartagena

Don Cartagena

Released: 1998

Label: R4 So Valid, LLC

Features: Big Pun, Prospect, Diddy, Nas, Jadakiss, Raekwon, Charli Baltimore, Cuban Link, Triple Seis, N.O.R.E., Terror Squad, Armageddon, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone

On ‘Don Cartagena,’ Fat Joe asserted himself as a potent force in the rap game. The album shows the Bronx MC hustling hard, evolving from a gruff-voiced street poet to a bonafide rap mogul. But don’t get it twisted, Joe hadn’t lost his grit. Nah, he channeled it into cuts like “John Blaze”, a who’s who of late ’90s NYC rap with Nas, Jadakiss, Raekwon the Chef and Big Pun all adding their lyrical prowess. Then there’s the boisterous title track ‘Don Cartagena,’ a Mafia-inspired anthem that further cemented his OG status. Peep the smoothness on “Bet Ya Man Can’t,” trizz, a funky ode to his prowess with the ladies. The tragic passing of Big Pun in 2000 added a bittersweet tinge to this album, but it also underlines the camaraderie and ‘ride-or-die’ loyalty that colored this era of Fat Joe’s career. Commercially, it performed solidly, hitting Gold status, but for the heads, it’s valued as an East Coast classic that showcases Joe at his most ambitious and driven.

4. All Or Nothing

All Or Nothing

Released: 2005

Label: RT Industries

Features: Mashonda, Nelly, Eminem, Lil Jon, Mase, Remy Ma, Jennifer Lopez

This was Joey Crack with his back against the ropes, delivering a heavy-hitting album brimming with anthems for the streets and the club. Tracks like “Safe 2 Say” and “The Incredible” showcased Joe’s lyrical prowess, spitting verses that were raw and unfiltered, giving us a glimpse into the heart of the South Bronx. Yet, the undeniable standout was “Get It Poppin” featuring Nelly – the track was a heatrock, blazing up the charts and getting everyone in the party mood. Critics, though, were quick to call out the slightly disjointed feel of the album, attribute it to Joe’s emphasis on crossover appeal. But make no mistake, “All Or Nothing” was a bold statement from the Don Cartagena, a testament to his ability to straddle the hardcore rap and chart-topping universes with ease.

3. Me, Myself & I

Me, Myself & I

Released: 2006

Label: R4 So Valid, LLC

Features: Lil Wayne, The Game, H-Mob

Not to say he’d forgotten his roots – tracks like “The Profit,” with a raw verse from Lil Wayne, reminded us that Joey Crack could still hold it down on the street level. But the real game changer was “Make It Rain,” an undeniable club banger that featured Wayne spitting that hot fire. The album is laced with producers like Scott Storch, LV, The Runners and Cool and Dre, giving it a polished, modern feel, without losing that gritty edge we’d come to love from Joe. This joint exhibited a Fat Joe flexing his storytelling and ability to create hits, while maintaining a balance between radio-friendly tracks and hard-hitting street anthems. “Me, Myself & I” emphasized the dynamism of Fat Joe’s artistry, serving as undeniable proof that he could navigate both the underground and mainstream spectrums of the game with ease.

2. Plata O Plomo

Plata O Plomo

Released: 2017

Label: RNG / EMPIRE / Plata O Plomo

Features: Remy Ma, Kat Dahlia, Kent Jones, French Montana, InfaRed, Sevyn Streeter, BJ The Chicago Kid, The-Dream, Vindata, Ry SO Valid, Ty Dolla $ign, Kingston, Stephanie Mills

Released in 2017, this album signified an old-school NYC renaissance, reminding heads of the Terror Squad heyday, and proving that Joe was far from out of this rap thing. The nostalgic yet forward-thinking approach was personified in their monster single “All the Way Up,” which had us hooked from the first ‘Nothing can stop me’ hook. That track was a certified banger, reaching double Platinum status, and earning Grammy nominations. The album also showcased Remy Ma’s fierce wordplay and held radio waves captive with its catchy-as-hell choruses and guest verses from heavy hitters like The-Dream, Ty Dolla $ign, and French Montana. Despite mixed reviews, the project was an unexpected rejuvenation of Fat Joe’s career, solidifying his status not only as a rap veteran, but also as an artist who isn’t afraid to adapt to an ever-changing hip-hop landscape. Plata o Plomo? Joe chose the silver.

1. Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E)

Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E)

Released: 2001

Label: RT Industries

Features: Buju Banton, Remy, R. Kelly, M.O.P., Petey Pablo, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Prospect, Ludacris, Armageddon, Xzibit, Busta Rhymes, N.O.R.E.

Now this here was Fat Joe at his sublime best, flowing over instrumentals as smooth as butter, and painting lyrical pictures that were as vivid as the graffiti adorned blocks of his home turf. The album went platinum, testament to Joey Crack’s appeal that transcended the streets, thanks in part to the R. Kelly assisted “We Thuggin'”, a song that was inescapable that summer, having partygoers worldwide throw their hands up. But it wasn’t all just commercial success; Fat Joe kept it 100 with the streets on cuts like “Murder Rap” and “Fight Club”. Critics were quick to point out the album’s focus on radio-friendly hits but let’s not get it twisted, “J.O.S.E.” was Fat Joe proof that he could hold his own in both the mainstream and underground arenas, definitely a stand-out in his rich discography.