Rapper Fat Joe smells very good, but he won’t tell you what cologne he’s wearing.
“You don’t want your man wearing this. Trust me,” he says, adding that it’s one of many fragrances in his collection.
Though the rapper is not as big as he used to be -- thanks to diet and exercise -- he’s still larger than life, fielding calls (one from his father) on his Goyard-encased iPhone, shaking hands with everyone he passes and unleashing his booming laugh when his collaborator, Remy Ma, playfully punches him in the arm or rolls her eyes at him.
The two say they’re as close as siblings; they first started working together as members of the hip-hop collective Terror Squad in the early 2000s. They’ve joined forces again to release upcoming album “Plata y Plomo,” and they released a new music video for “Cookin’” on Friday on Tidal, which Remy describes as more protective of independent artists like herself and Joe.
Fat Joe says that on the Dubai set of the video, he and Remy’s husband, Papoose, had a serious talk about who would protect her from the tiger.
“Me and Papoose were taking turns saying who’s going to beat the tiger up if he comes after Remy,” he recalls. “She can’t have no more support system than that.”
Remy rolls her eyes, saying, “I’m sitting here like, ‘I’m going to be running. You guys can sit here being like Mike Tyson.’”
In fact, the two are so close that Remy says Joe can even tell her things her husband can’t.
“He can come and be like, ‘Hey, Rem, so um, I was thinking that you should go on a diet again because I seen this picture,’” she says. “Anybody else -- like if my husband told me that, I’d probably kill him dead.”
Remy mentions that Papoose even asks Joe to act as an occasional mediator, calling him to weigh in on their arguments.
It makes sense that their earlier single this year, released in March, is called “All the Way Up.” The two both grew up in the projects in the Bronx and say the success still feels surreal.
“He calls me at four in the morning saying, ‘Congrats, sis,’” says Remy. “And I say, ‘What?’ And he says, ‘You’re rich. Just wanted to let you know.’”
Joe explains, “I grew up pretty much with nothing. Nobody in my family before me ever had anything. To actually live out my dream and become a rapper … and I’m watching the video and Remy’s on the stairs in Dubai with a tiger.”
Joe and Remy say that they owe much of their success to late rapper and collaborator Big Pun.
“We took Big Pun, a 700-lb Spanish guy, one of the greatest rappers ever, and made him a sex symbol,” says Joe. “Women would wait on line to kiss him.”
The tone gets somber when they talk about carrying on their friend’s legacy; Big Pun died in 2000.
“We are Big Pun,” says Joe.
“It’s because of him I’m able to be with Joe,” adds Remy. “He’s the one who introduced me to Joe when I first met Big Pun -- the first person he wanted me to meet was Fat Joe. So that means a lot to me.”
“I feel like he was a freak of nature,” Joe continues. “I feel like he was one of the greatest ever to do it and literally -- whether he was Latino, white, black, Asian -- he was one of the greatest and I’m advocating for him, lobbying for him every time we get up.”
And they’re doing that by “Cookin.’”
“We heatin’ up,” says Remy. “We in the studio, we on the road doing what we need to do to make this great meal we’re trying to set forth and we’re trying to eat off of it, so we in the kitchen and we cookin.’”