Hustlin’ Crack to Rap
Curtis Jackson found himself in and out of prison over the following four years of his burgeoning adult years through the period of his girlfriend’s pregnancy and birth of his son, Marquise (born in 1997.) Being an inspiration in his life, he moved away from selling drugs on the streets and headed for a more positive path, determined to secure a future and be a role model for his child. He was caught up in the politics of record companies putting him on the back burner in favour of brighter stars. It was during this time he learned the brisk dog-eat-dog survival of the business. He spent arduous hours in the basement studio of a friend’s place freestyling over popular beats and continually sharpened his skills, determined to turn his life into a positive for his son. Late ’96 after several unsuccessful projects with various other labels, Jackson met with Hollis, Queens super producer Jason ‘Jam Master Jay’ Mizell from Run DMC and was signed to his label JMJ. Once Jay had taught him the basics, how to count bars, structure songs but due to Jay’s hectic Run DMC touring schedule there was no time to spend producing material for Jackson so he left the label in search of someone who could really provide him with the platform in which to shine.
50 teamed up with the platinum production duo Track Masters who saw the potential in young Curtis’ talent for delivering street-curb lyrics and from there he met with Corey Rooneys the president of Columbia Records who signed him in 1999. During these several years 50 Cent released a library of mixtapes, and appeared on almost every major selling tape sold on street corners of New York becoming a somewhat legend of underground rap. He was advanced $65,000 by Columbia and taken to a recording studio in upstate New York where he turned out 36 tracks in two and a half weeks producing his début album, ‘Power of the Dollar’ with the single (originally entitled ‘How to Rob Industry Niggaz’) ‘How to Rob’ became a stick-up kid’s anthem which served as a comical ode to robbing at gunpoint several big name New York artists such as Jay-Z, Sticky Fingaz, Ghostface Killah and Big Pun all of whom could not take it lightly and replied through their own recordings. By 2000 the album was never released by Columbia and he was seen as being too much of a risk for the record company and shortly dropped from the label. Despite this Blaze Magazine judged it an unreleased classic. 50 placed himself on the map as a heavyweight contender, hungry and lurking in the shadows swinging devastating blows to anyone who caught wind.
v Murder Inc
"It wasn't personal. It was comedy based on truth, which made it so funny," - 50 Cent.
A bitter feud existed between 50 Cent and the Hollis Queens outfit, Murder Inc. 50 carried a deeply wounding hatred for the labels relationship with New York drug kingpin, Kenneth 'Supreme' McGriff who once ruled 50 Cent's neighbourhood through the 1980s. (Think Nino Brown running your hood.) Public beef and dis-tapes brought attention to the feud, which was never aimed at Murder Inc. rather the man behind the business. This vicious tale of retribution has been brewing from when 50 Cent lost his mother at just 8 years old.
In New York club one night, 50 Cent was in the company of a man who had stolen a chain from Murder Inc’s label headlining recording artist, Ja Rule. He noticed 50 conversing with the man and immediately put the two together. Ja in turn reported this to Inc. CEO Irv Gotti who told silent partner, the notorious Supreme who had threatened 50's life for the return of the jewellery. The personal feud began between the two, stemming from 50’s existing feud with Ja Rule’s label bosses. The pair get physical one day in Atlanta while they were both staying in the same hotel. 50 noticed Ja Rule in the lobby and pulled him aside to talk. Ja Rule was carrying a small kiddie’s baseball bat as he approached him but the chat didn’t last long when 50 unleashed his quick temper and punched him dead in the eye. Months after the fight he found himself in a fight with Ja Rule’s crew at The Hit Factory , a Manhattan recording studio resulting in 50 Cent getting stabbed. The wound was not serious and all charges against his assailants were dropped. The beef survived through various recorded dis-tracks with 50 Cent vowing to end Ja Rule’s petty recording career.
At this time he caused industry controversy when he recorded a track with DJ Clark Kent called "Fuck You" which provided 50 with a blank target to diss any established artists. After that he followed with "U Not Like Me" which was accepted widely throughout the underground fraternity and made it a solid gold mixtape record. (Both tracks never made the line-up for his first LP) Word on the street was after releasing a track called "Ghetto Qur'an (Forgive Me)" on his Power of a Dollar record and later on Guess Who’s Back. This reported on several key members of the underworld drug empire run by the McGriff and his Supreme Team mentioning his close associates Tyrin ‘Ta-Ta’ Moore and ‘Freeze’. As a result of this McGriff blacklisted 50 Cent from obtaining any record deal by threatening the life of any New York label executive who signed him. None of these are proven facts but have strong credibility within the industry. It is rumoured Jason Mizell from Run DMC and who signed 50 to JMJ Records was murdered at the behest of Ken McGriff.
During his final leg with Columbia Records he was commissioned to work with Jennifer Lopez on a record as a way of marketing 50’s burgeoning career but decided to pull him off the deal when they prepared to cancel his deal with Columbia. It was here where 50 started his much-publicised beef with Murder Inc. Records and label boss Irv Gotti. Although Murder Inc. was a record label financially backed by Ken McGriff it is possible a conspiracy to end 50’s career started earlier involving Murder Inc. Right before his album was due to drop, 50 had earned himself a contract on his head. In Queens he stated the price for murder is very cheap, somebody will do the job for $5,000. Before he was dumped by Columbia 50 Cent was to be Queens’ most wanted, the F.B.I. has since investigated Drug Lord Ken McGriff and The Supreme Team as being major suspects.
The Smoking Gun website reports there is a 2003 search warrant affidavit for the Manhattan offices of Murder Inc. record label showed that Kenneth McGriff (an incarcerated Drug Lord with financial ties to Murder Inc.) had a contract put out on and is still trying to kill 50 Cent and that he "communicates with Murder, Inc. employees concerning the target." An excerpt of the affidavit reads:
"The investigation has uncovered a conspiracy involving McGriff and others to murder a rap artist who has released songs containing lyrics regarding McGriff's criminal activities. The rap artist was shot in 2000, survived and there after refused to cooperate with law enforcement regarding the shooting. Messages transmitted over the Murder Inc. Pager indicate that McGriff is involved in an ongoing plot to kill this rap artist”