Life, at the moment, is an all-you-can-eat buffet for Fat Joe.

The rapper, born Joe Cartagena in the Bronx, is rolling across the country in a convoy of luxury buses, touring with Nelly. “We got satellite (TV), XBox, PlayStation, a sound system, just stuff to keep us entertained,” he says. “We play a lot of cards.”

But during this phone conversation, Joe’s not on the bus. He flew to New York for the day after a show in Wisconsin to tape some segments for MTV. At the moment, he’s sitting in the airport, enjoying a snack, about to fly out to rejoin the tour.

His sixth album, “All or Nothing,” will come out next month. It includes “Hold You Down,” his current smash duet with J.Lo, and a remix of “Lean Back,” the track he recorded with his Terror Squad posse that was one of the biggest hits of 2004.

The CD was originally scheduled for April but was delayed to obtain sample clearances, including the “Flintstones” theme. “The label was scared we would get sued. Hanna-Barbera!” he shouts, laughing delightedly.

But all this good news has been overshadowed by his continuing verbal war with 50 Cent. Joe got dragged into the skirmish after he and Jadakiss contributed to Ja Rule’s song “New York, New York,” which 50 interpreted as a personal insult.

“It wasn’t directed at him,” Joe insists. “We wanted to do an anthem. But I guess he feels anyone who works for Ja Rule is his enemy.”

50 struck back with “Piggy Bank” which, among other digs, called “Lean Back” a “dud.” Joe then dropped his dis track, “My Fo Fo,” accusing 50 of bulking up on steroids and observing, “I see MJ in the hood more than Curtis.” The implication is that Michael Jackson has more street cred than 50, whose given name is Curtis Jackson.

“I didn’t even want to do that,” Joe says. “My fans put a lot of pressure on me. My son wanted me to respond.”

The newest attack in this rap battle is 50’s “I Run New York,” in which his protege Tony Yayo accuses Joe of not being “gangsta” and brings up Joe’s fear of flying.

“I couldn’t care less,” Joe says convincingly. “Hey, I’m sitting in an airport right now.”

Still, that’s a lot of trouble to catch just for chipping in some rhymes for a friend’s song. But Fat Joe is nothing if not accommodating. He’s been a guest rapper for everyone from Raekwon to Ricky Martin.

“If I like your music, I’ll work with you,” he says. “Just give me a call. We’ll work something out.”

Lopez is a special case. He’s been a close confederate of hers since she got in the music game. In recent interviews, she acknowledged that “Hold You Down” is her sincere musical thank-you note to Fat Joe.

“That song there is about friendship,” he confirms. “Not too many rappers are talking about friendship these days.”

Just ask 50.

(c) 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer’s World Wide Web site, at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-20-05 0623EDT

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