A Bronx-raised rapper teamed up with borough officials to participate in the spirit of giving on Tuesday.
Joseph “Jose” Cartagena, more commonly known as Fat Joe, assisted Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and Krasdale Foods to give away 3,000 grocery bags filled with meal essentials ahead of Thanksgiving weekend.
Originally from the Bronx, Fat Joe has worked with artists such as the late Big Pun, Remy Ma, Tony Sunshine and DJ Khaled on his own label. He released his first album “Represent” in 1993, but his most commercially successful record was “Jealous Ones Still Envy” in 2001 — with that disk’s hit single “What’s Luv? (feat. Ja-Rule & Ashanti)” still his most streamed song on Spotify.
Fat Joe said he was excited to get the opportunity to help his own community.
“It means everything for us,” he told the Bronx Times on Tuesday at one of his UP NYC locations on Third Avenue in the Bronx. “This is our community, this is our village, this is where we from. So whenever we can come back and help those in need, there’s nothing like it.”
Krasdale Foods — one of the Bronx’s most long-standing grocery distributors since 1908 — sponsored Tuesday’s giveaway. The cost of the 3,000 grocery bags, estimated to be around $90,000 worth of food, was split between participating partners. Krasdale also provided labor and transportation for much of the food drive.
Gus Lebiak, the president and COO of Krasdale Foods, said he was happy to come to the Bronx for the event.
“We’re really happy to work with Joe and give back to the community,” Lebiak said.
The event was spread out across three different Fat Joe-owned UP NYC retail locations, each with 1,000 grocery bags to hand out.
“In each bag I think we have enough essentials that you need to provide for Thanksgiving,” said Ruby Lassi, the marketing manager at UP NYC. “What better way to help Black and brown people? We’re a Black and brown business that’s providing.”
King Singh, 9, came out to the South Bronx drive on Tuesday to see Fat Joe, one of his favorite artists.
King’s father, Michael Singh, said the rapper sent his son a video message of encouragement while he was undergoing cancer treatment at just 5 years old.
“It made him feel super special,” Michael Singh said. “For Joe to take the time to do something so kind for a cancer survivor, it just means the world and we heard he was in the neighborhood so we came by.”
King and his dad traveled all the way from Queens to give Fat Joe a gold medal for pediatric cancer — their way of thanking the artist for his impact in King’s battle and recovery from the disease.
The 9-year-old, with the help of his family, started a 501(c)3 nonprofit to help kids undergoing cancer treatment, which can be found on Facebook and Instagram @KingFightsCancerFoundation or online at https://www.kingfightscancerfoundation.org.
“It was amazing to surprise him with my medal,” King said.
Joe said coming to the Bronx on Tuesday filled him with pride.
“This gives me a lot of joy, a lot of pride, helping out the community who helped raise me,” he said. “So it’s everything to me.”
Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes