Fat Joe Reveals 200-Pound Weight Loss and Battle With Depression: 'I Really Wanna Be Here for a Long Time'

The rapper speaks with 'Men's Health' about his health and fitness journey and battling depression.

Fat Joe is opening up about his health and fitness journey and sharing the inner strength he discovered along the way.

The 52-year-old rapper spoke with Men's Health for the outlet's ongoing "Hip Hop Health" content series, which examines how the evolution of the health of Black and brown men can be traced through the genre, in honor of hip-hop's 50th anniversary. Fat Joe divulges how shedding more than 200 pounds saved his life and revealed an entirely new person along the way.

The rapper shares that it was after entering a period of depression following the death of several close friends due to heart conditions, including the unexpected death of his best friend and mentee, Big Pun, that he realized he had to make a change in his life.

"I went to his funeral and I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge. Like, I seen me," Joe explains. "And I'm looking at his little daughter. She was the same age as my daughter. I said, 'You gotta lose weight; otherwise, you outta here.'"

Joe likened his depression to "the most complex Rubik's Cube you could ever, ever, ever, ever try to figure out," even recalling a Matrix Resurrections scene in which Keanu Reeves, as Neo, sits in the bathtub with a rubber duck on his head.

"That's what depression was like to me. When you're fighting yourself, there isn't a wall high enough that you can build. There isn't an island you can go to. There isn't a place you can go to where you get away from it, because you're fighting your mind," he explains. "You wake up, and then the minute you think about it, your brain sends you a message to say, 'We're not supposed to be happy.' And then you fall right back into depression."

"I lost a lot of people, and unfortunately, I can't sit there and dwell because I know that's something that takes me down that path," Joe shares. "So I gotta push forward."

Although his depression was a "battle" that he fights every day, the rapper says that he's worked on shifting his habits to remind himself of how to move forward.

"You should know what brings you there and to run the other way. The minute I feel unhappy, I go toward happy," he says. "When I pull up to my mother's home that I bought for her, that's a modest home, it puts the biggest smile on my face. And when I go inside, she's happy and my father's happy and everybody's happy. I never told my daughter 'no' one time in her life for anything. It's always been 'yes.' That makes me happy. I'm a big movie guy. John Wick 4. Air. That makes me happy. CNN makes me happy. When you're on the road so much, you feel so happy to sleep in your bed."

Working on bettering his mindset went hand-in-hand with working on bettering his physical health. While Joe has always been a proponent for the big guys, he began taking his health more seriously and understanding the science of good habits. Still, the rapper shies away from acclaim for his actions.

"Although what I did is pretty cool for me, there's people who take it even more serious," he tells Men's Healthadding that he is a big advocate for taking things slowly. "Everybody's body is custom-made... Everybody is different, because I got some friends that love the gym, and these guys spend hours lifting weights. And they the ones that got the back problems! You gotta do whatever keeps you healthy. You start off exercising ten minutes a day, doing some cardio. Then 15 minutes. Then 20. And before you know it, you're at 45, an hour. It's a gradual thing."

Jai Lennard for Men’s Health
Fat Joe in 2003. - Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Although he's happy about where his new habits have taken him, the rapper shares a conversation with one of his drivers that made him realize how the "Fat" moniker is more than just a name.

"Steve is a big boy. And he said, 'Man, you always fly, Joe. All the big boys, you gave us confidence and made us think that big was fly. You Fat Joe. Then out of nowhere, you start losing weight.' I said, 'Man, I thought you guys would be happy for me! Because I'm getting healthier,'" he recalls. "And he said, 'Nah, man, we feel like you left us. For years, you've been telling us being a fat guy is cool. We got upset with you, the big boys.'"

Joe says the conversation left him torn between pride and confusion, recalling how he used to bring his own form of body positivity to men who looked as he once did. "Here I was, giving confidence to oversized people, and they felt like I flat left them," he says. "They didn't realize I was just thinking about, yo, I really wanna be here for a long time. I really want to work out. I really want to be healthy. I wanna be here."

Despite the moniker not being as physically accurate as before, the rapper isn't letting go of his iconic name anytime soon. "Although I've gotten health conscious on another level," he says, "it wouldn't make sense to change it. Now it's my brand. It's what I built."