Talking to Fat Joe on the phone is not very different from listening to “Lean Back,” “All the Way Up” or “What’s Luv,” or even watching him steal scenes as a prisoner Skyping into Tiffany Haddish’s class in Night School. The Bronx-born rapper is always on the beat, and you never know what’s going to happen; in my case, he had to pause our convo to share something with DJ Khaled, with whom he just happened to be hanging in Miami.
Joe is happy to be back in Vegas this weekend for another gig at hip-hop hot spot Drai’s, as you can read for yourself.
What do you like about frequenting Las Vegas for your Drai’s residency? There’s nothing like Vegas in the world. They say about New York that if you make it there, you can make it anywhere, but whenever I pull into Vegas I feel like I made it, especially when I see my name on those billboards. It’s an extra-special experience for me, especially at Drai’s, because it’s always packed with beautiful people having a great time. And it’s people from Oklahoma and Nebraska and Miami and Chicago and the whole world. I love it over there. I would love to do a residency where I just live in Vegas for eight months.
What was it like shooting Night School with Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart? It was a great learning experience. I feel like my whole career is a work in progress, and I learned a lot from them and that whole cast; they were amazing.
You’ve been out and about doing more than music lately. You’ve evolved into a bit of a cultural ambassador. I’m a mature gangster rapper (laughs). I’m older now, and I look at the world differently. I just went to four schools in the Bronx and told them whichever class has the best attendance and the best grades at Christmastime, I’m gonna get them all a free pair of Jordans. Today I got the first update and all of the schools we went to have 96 percent attendance. And the behavior is through the roof. I’m gonna be buying a lot of shoes, but the point is to get this info and take it to a major sneaker company, like Nike, and show them it works, and maybe make it a bigger initiative. We’ve got to get back to our communities and our kids and give them some hope and inspiration.
When is your new album, Family Ties, going to drop? We’re working on it. What happened is too much good music came out this year, and we want to make sure our project is incredible. It’s about 85 percent there; I just need two or three more songs. We’ve got Big Sean on it, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Bun B. The album is fire. I just want to get a few more classic pieces on there.
FAT JOE November 2, 10:30 p.m., $30-$50. Drai's, 702-777-3800.