Real Name: Curtis Jackson III
D.O.B.: July 6th, 1975 South Jamaica Queens, N.Y.
Orphaned by eight, crack dealer by twelve, prison by nineteen, nearly shot to death by twenty-four and blacklisted throughout New York’s record labels, his mentor executed, 50 Cent defied odds to become a multi-million dollar rap empire two years later and arch-enemies still thirst for his demise. He travels in bullet-proof vehicles with six heavy-handed bodyguards and carries an awe of seriousness around his chest in a bullet-proof vest as his energy breathes unmoved over the daily threat on his life. This is the enormity of Curtis Jackson’s 50 Cent, the hunted child and this is his story.
50 Cent is possibly one of the recognisable stars in hip-hop today, his 50 Cent brand is a multimillion dollar business empire. A protégée of some of the industry’s most celebrated producers, 50 has become the catalyst for hardcore gangsta rap and modern pop culture, branching across both to be the most successful artist in America and across the world today all the while still holding down one of the grimiest stories of ghetto-born, bullet-ridden upbringings. It is this street credibility and reputation that had put 50 Cent on the pedal stool all young aspiring rappers emulate. Dre had adopted 50 based on selling him as the ‘Real Deal’ and in industry terms this is the foundation for the 50 Cent Empire.
Guy R. Brewer Boulevard Hustle
Born in Southside Jamaica Queens in New York, lost in the breeding grounds of the country’s largest crack cocaine epidemic young fatherless Curtis Jackson the third had lost those close to him including his mother as a casualty. He survived through it and even played a part in it before escaping through the world of hip-hop. At the age of eight, Jackson’s mother Sabrina was murdered at home. Someone followed her home, spiked her drink leaving her unconscious, turned the gas taps on and left her to die. She was found dead a few days later, and was only 23 years young. She had been a street-hardened crack dealer with considerable weight on the street and a strong reputation living on the block controlled by Lorenzo ‘Fat Cat’ Nichols and was almost certainly working for his drug sales network. The bigger picture shows us that his mother was a small-time peddler for the larger scale drug empire controlled by the master mind of one kingpin, Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff and his army of militant-like soldiers from the Five-Percenters, he called The Supreme Team and Nichols worked under them. Orphaned Curtis grew up with his grandparents but spent out of school hours on the corner with older cats that looked out for Sabrina’s boy. At twelve years old when most boys were playing stick-ball, watching cartoons or doing homework under parental supervision Curtis was handed three and a half grams of crack rock, baking soda and a cooking pot and shown the intimate science of drug dealing. Between the hours of three to six pm when his grandparents thought he was at after-school care he hustled and amerced himself in the gritty drug trade under the pseudonym of ‘Boo-Boo’ on the notorious block on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica, Queens. Here he built himself up under his mother’s reputation and amassed a small fortune.
In the tenth grade at Andrew Jackson High School he was arrested for possession of crack and given juvenile probation. He changed high schools only to fall back into the grind eventually dropping out of school. He later attained his GED in jail a few years later. He became a ghetto-superstar standing on his own fearful reputation. He controlled a crack house and ran the neighbourhood strip around the way using intimidation and strategy to hold down his fort. At eighteen he was earning $5,000 a day in the business of crack and heroin. He purchased a white Mercedes-Benz 400SE and a matching Land Cruiser. During a prison stretch he met some petty thieves from Brooklyn and later employed them on the outside to rob rival Queens hustlers to protect his trade. He let them keep the cash and jewellery attained and asked only for their drugs then gave out the stolen drugs to his customers as they purchased his crack in a witty marketing ploy. Here he plied a similar strategy to selling records, keeping the anticipation of an album from dropping quality mixtapes out on the street markets.
From June 1994 Jackson was arrested twice in three weeks on felony drug charges adding to a lengthy rap sheet. On June 29th Jackson was arrested on five counts of possession of Class-A narcotics with intent to distribute or sell. At 11.20am on 134th street and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard undercover police officer Taiesha Douse approached an associate of Jackson’s with intent to purchase crack-cocaine who in turn directed her over to Jackson who asked her to join him on a park bench. Jackson handed the agent four gold-topped vials of crack rock cocaine and received twenty dollars in recorded buy-money from the agent. She left the location and radioed a field team who swooped in on the location of Jackson and associate arresting both assailants upon identification by the undercover agent. In a pat-down the arresting officer retrieved thirty-six vials of crack-cocaine, twelve packets of heroin and $172 in cash and the $20 buy-money on Jackson’s person.
On July 19th at 8.50am in his second floor apartment on Rockaway Boulevard a search warrant was conducted on the premises and Jackson was again arrested, with four counts of possession of controlled substances ranging from the first degree to the seventh as well as being caught with the chemical compounds weighing up to four ounces for mixing and preparing crack-rock cocaine with intent to distribute or sell. Upon further search in his bedroom hidden in a boot police recovered seven bags of crack-rock each weighing one ounce as well as another three plastic bags containing crack-rock of one ounce weight in each found in the top drawer of a bureau. Under the bed an envelope containing heroin was recovered and a quantity of marijuana. Also under the television stand they found glass vials, tops and rubber bands used in connection of distribution, an air starter gun in the wardrobe and $695 in cash.
In result of this on the 22nd July Curtis Jackson pleaded guilty to all counts and signed a waive form for trial and right to appeal and accepted a plea bargain out of a significant prison sentence by participating for seven months in a “shock incarceration” boot camp. He would later brag about this as his doing “seven to nine.”
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.”
Nine Shots Later
In May 24th 2000 50 Cent and his homeboy 22 year-old Alton Brown were sitting in his parked car in the Jamaica section of Queens outside 50’s grandparents’ residence on his way to the tattoo parlour and then to the studio at about 11:20am. He ducked back inside to retrieve some jewellery and when he returned to his back seat another car pulled up parallel and the driver snuck out of the car and crept up from behind onto 50’s left hand side with his gun cocked and fired nine shots with a 9mm handgun from behind. With his hand on the steering wheel, 50 tried to reach for his gun but was shot in the hand entering at the base of the thumb and exiting through the pinky finger. Another bullet struck him in his hip, then his calf and chest. Another shot struck the vehicle and ricocheted into the left side of his face through the jaw and knocking a tooth out (as seen now with a scar in his left cheek which makes for a permanent dimple) and leaving bullet fragments embedded in his tongue. Further shots struck him in his forearm and lower bicep. Brown was wounded in the hand but managed to pull away, drove a few blocks and stopped to dump their weapon into a sewer and continued to the hospital. 50 says he was up and talking the whole way as the adrenaline pumping through his system kept the pain numb. He stayed in hospital for thirteen days and was confined to a walking frame for six weeks. He valued his life ten-fold now and began working on his body, turning it into a chiselled, raw thug-like LL Cool J physique accessorised with bullet wounds and tattoos to complete the invincible image he now portrays. The injury to his jaw and mouth left him with a distinct slur in his speech adding another element to his legend. This frightening reminder of what could have been is apparent every time he lays down vocals in his music.
“There’s a different sound now when I talk, ‘cause of the air around the tooth. Gettin’ shot just totally fixed my instrument.” Says 50 Cent, (Rolling Stones magazine, April 2003.)
Through various interviews and songs the shooter is rumoured to be Ken McGriff’s associate Darryl ‘Hommo’ Baum, whose nickname is derived from ‘homicide.’ Baum himself was shot three weeks after and consequently died as a result. 50 hinted this was in retaliation for the hit on him. Others claim Baum’s killing was as a result of an unrelated feud with another Brooklyn drug syndicate.
October 30th, 2002 JMJ record executive Jason Mizell, Jam Master Jay of Run DMC was murdered execution style, shot point-blank in the head in his Queens recording studio. Investigations believe the murder as a result of an ongoing ‘blacklisting’ of 50 Cent in the recording industry by the notorious Ken McGriff. Jam Master Jay defied this and took 50 Cent on-board as his protégée and therefore wound up murdered. 50 Cent was interviewed by police over the case but failed to cooperate in providing any information as to the suspects of the case. They further asked him about who he thought responsible for his own shooting of May 25th, 2000 but again he declined to provide any relevant information, instead mentioning that maybe the police should read his lyrics. He warned police of the danger that he had now hired a security team and that he feared for his safety.
The law enforcement agents investigating Murder Inc.’s illegal operation uncovered communication via pager messages of employees tracking 50 Cent’s whereabouts to Ken McGriff and his associates stating when he was in the New York area of Queens. On August 17th, 2002 Christopher Lorenzo, (Brother of label CEO Irv Gotti) informed McGriff of 50 Cent’s presence on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica, Queens deep in the heart of Ken McGriff’s Supreme Team turf at the Baisley Housing Projects. Another occasion on September 5th, 2002 shows McGriff was informed again of 50 Cents whereabouts with record of a direct response from McGriff. These messages obtained by the authorities have been used as strong evidence to pursue Murder Inc.’s involvement in Ken McGriff’s criminal enterprise and the attempted murder of 50 Cent. On December 31st, 2002 New York police officers arrested 50 Cent and his armed bodyguard following a vehicle stop in Manhattan and charged them with possession of two firearms and four bullet proof vests.
Later in 2003 The Source magazine and Murder Inc. opened up a smear campaign against 50 Cent right before his début album was released. A restraining order document floated around the internet stating that 50 Cent had placed label CEO Irv Gotti and rapper Black Child in the document forging a belief that 50 Cent is a snitch (police informant).
50 Cent persisted boldly after his recovery teaming up with his new business partner Sha Money XL as the two headed out of New York and into Canada to safely bang out thirty-plus tracks in the studio to continue his mixtape library and fly his flag of defiance in the face of his enemies. His street-cred rose higher again almost to invincibility and by the end of spring, 2001 he’d released new material and together with unreleased tracks off ‘Power of a Dollar’ including the controversial “Fuck You” and “U Not Like Me” coming together for the independent mixtape LP, Guess Who’s Back released April 26, 2002. 50 stayed on the grind producing enough tracks to flood the market unlike any other MC only this time he retouched beats off classic hooks from released tracks from other artists such as Jay-Z and Raphael Saadiq with his lyrics added over the top. The red, white and blue bootleg, 50 Cent Is the Future was recorded introducing the original G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo who guest appeared on the recordings. The album was released June 1, 2002 with DJ Whoo Kid and Kayslay producing it. Here hip-hop history was made, the record caught the attention of superstar MC Eminem and within a week he was quick to get on the New York radio circuit with the message that 50 Cent was his favourite rapper of the moment.
“One of the things that excited me about Tupac was even if he was rhymin’ the simplest words in the world, you felt like he meant it and it came from his heart. That’s the thing with 50, that same aura. That’s been missing since we lost Pac and Biggie, the authenticity, the realness behind it.” – Eminem.
label, Shady Records and he quickly grabbed 50 to headline his new label seeing him as being the new generation of hip-hop today. Eminem heard his New York mixtape, 50 Cent Is The Future with MTV rap aficionado Sway Calloway and promptly called 50’s lawyer to set up a meeting between the two stars in Los Angeles. 50 arrived and Em invited him to join him at some industry parties all weekend and tried to sell his plans for 50 to join Shady Records to him. Eminem asked him to hang around and meet Dre in an editing studio the following Monday. Evidently 50 Cent was astonished at his arrival at the front door to success and did not hesitate to sign with the legend’s Aftermath and Shady Records and was to have his record co-produced by the dream-team of Dre and Eminem. Before 50 began working in Interscope’s studios he released another mixtape, a bootleg record again collaborating with his Queens crew G-Unit entitled, No Mercy, No Fear with the single “Wanksta” written as a diss against Murder Inc’s rapper Ja Rule. Due to the rumours over his record deal with Shady/Aftermath, “Wanksta” quickly became the most requested song on New York radio in July 2002. Interscope capitalised on the appropriated song’s success and the hot track became the first appearance for Aftermath/Shady in Eminem’s 2002 8 Mile soundtrack with accompanying video clip which immediately went into heavy rotation on BET, MTV and radio stations across the country. 50 Cent certainly was the future in hip-hop and boosted by his parental rap upbringing of Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay, Eminem and the legendary Dr. Dre. In the wake of his acquisition, 50 Cent has become the hottest and most sought after neophyte since the summer of ‘94, when radio introduced the coming of Notorious B.I.G. He represented the new generation of pop culture, his hype was explosive!
In 2003 50 Cent began production of his début commercial album titled, Get Rich or Die Tryin with Eminem and Dr. Dre co-producing it. The first single released off the record was “In Da Club” produced and written by 50 Cent, Eminem, Dre and Mike Elizondo. This is one of the most listened to songs in the history of radio. By the second week of March 2003, Arbitron radio ratings estimated that during that week at some point 200 million people had listened to some or all of the song. “In Da Club” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Song in 2004 and became Billboard Magazine’s number one single for the year. It debuted number one on the American, Canadian and Australian and third on the British charts. It was the first time since 1994 that an artist had both the number one song and album for the year (held previously by Ace of Base with “The Sign”). The video clip for the track portrayed 50 Cent exercising in a laboratory with both Eminem and Dr. Dre in white lab coats with clipboards observing him as their case study which is a fairly accurate analogy. 50 was sued for copyright infringement by former 2 Live Crew manager, Joe Weinberger on January 20, 2006. He owns the rights to the rap group’s catalogue and claims that 50 Cent plagiarized lines from the song “It’s Your Birthday” by former 2 Live Crew lead singer Luther Campbell, in his 1994 album “Still a Freak for Life”. The next single released off the album was the R&B touched “21 Questions” written about a relationship between a newly-convicted felon in prison and his girlfriend on the outside. The smooth cut was produced by Midi Mafia featuring the G-Funk presence of Nate Dogg laying down soulful choruses over a Barry White classic hook, “It’s Only Love Doing Its Thing” soon followed with great reaction debuting number one on the American charts again. The accompanying music video directed by Dre’s director on speed-dial, Philip G. Atwell shows 50 Cent arrested and hauled into prison where upon he tries to stay in close contact with his girlfriend played by Meagan Good while under duress from a rival convict harassing him played by model and actor Tyson Beckford. The video closes with 50 Cent back on the outside with his girlfriend watching Tyson’s character getting arrested as we are led to believe that 50 was originally wrongly-convicted. The video shares a similar screenplay to Nate Dogg’s own “Never Leave Me Alone”. Cameo appearances come from G-Unit members and Nate Dogg. The follow-up single becomes 50’s second number-one single début on the charts, third in Australia and sixth in the U.K. The third released single entitled “P.I.M.P.” became 50’s fourth single to hit the top ten also peaking at number-five on the U.K. chart and number two on Australian charts. The song was written by 50 Cent and produced by Denaun Porter. Later a remixed version added Snoop Dogg, Lloyd Banks and Young Buck to the track which saw very sexist lyrics accompanied with a full-frontal nude video of dancers centred on a table of celebrity pimps donning 50 Cent as one of their own. The Bishop Don Magic-Juan makes an appearance dressed in glitzy green with his pimp drinking mug. The fourth and final single off the album was “If I Can’t” proved good things come in threes, entering all the way at number 76 on the U.S. charts, although the U.K. saw it at number ten.
Within its first week of release the album sold 872,000 units, certified gold and a week later hit platinum with 2.1 million units sold. It broke the record for first week sales of any major label début in the entire Soundscan era. This became the dopest rap album since Eminem’s follow-up album and by April 12, 2004 Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ became certified six times platinum by the RIAA. The début album also attained the Juno Award International Album of 2003, American Music Awards Favourite Rap/Hip-Hop Album of 2003. The 2004 Grammys further awarded 50 Cent with nominations in categories of Best New Artist General, Best Male Rap Solo Performance, Best Rap Album ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’. After this apparent success Interscope granted him with his own label.
Following the height of success of his début commercial album, Interscope executive Jimmy Iovine granted 50 Cent with his own subsidiary record label. In 2003 G-Unit Records officially launched appointing 50‘s manager Sha Money XL as the president. The first signing to the label was his Queens based mixtape partners Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Bang ‘Em Smurf and Domination as the established members of G-Unit. Later Tennessee’s Young Buck joined up. By 2004 R&B singer Olivia and mixtape DJ Whoo-Kid were also signed to the label. The Game joined G Unit as a promotional deal between 50 and Dr. Dre as a product of Aftermath/G Unit Records. Recently 50 cent added Spider Loc, New York’s own Mobb Deep, Mase and M.O.P. to his label growing into an empire of industry. The original artists’ Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck all released their own solo projects under G-Unit’s banner.
Before the official release date of 50’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo were arrested for possession of firearms. Both 50 and Banks were released on probation but due to an outstanding warrant for weapons charges, Tony Yayo was forced to spend a year in prison for weapons violation. Upon release he wound up back inside for six months for possessing a forged passport. Since then he has remained on probation and required to remain in New York State making him ineligible to tour with G-Unit for 12 months.
On March 3, 2005 50 was set to release his much-anticipated follow-up album ‘The Massacre’, originally entitled ‘St. Valentines Day Massacre’ but later changed it as the release date was set back from Valentine’s Day as it was deemed inappropriate for the occasion. The album was finally released on the 8th. The anticipation for this release held as much weight as Tupac’s post-prison ‘All Eyez On Me’ release and was set to be the dopest album since Biggie’s début.
“Disco Inferno” was the first single from The Massacre. The single peaked at number-three in the U.S. and was produced by Dr. Dre displaying his typical easy flowing melody rolling over strong beats that has encapsulated the west for the last twenty years. The music video had never been released on MTV but has found its way onto the internet. The clip is pornographic and takes place at a club in black-and-white with many undressing strippers. Artists Young Buck and Method Man appear briefly in the clip. The song was beaten by Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” at the Grammy Awards of 2006 for Best Rap Solo Performance. “Candy Shop” was the second released single off the follow-up, featuring G-Unit’s R&B starlet Olivia. The song was written by 50 Cent and Scott Storch and produced by Storch using the sample of The Salsoul Orchestra’s “Love Break” a sample already used on Eric B and Rakim’s famous track, “Paid in Full”. The track caused ripples in the mainstream with faint sexual references to oral sex. The song was heavily censored on many commercial radio stations removing swearing and explicit sexual lyrics. Some downgraded the single as another rehashing of his collaboration with Lil’ Kim on “Magic Stick”. The music video produced by Jesse Terrero was developed over the 11th and 12th of January in Hollywood showing 50 Cent driving into a mansion which turns out to be the so-called candy shop (another name for a brothel) with several attractive models inside including Lyric as the nurse, Chessika Cartwright (as the dominatrix) and Erica Mena (as girl in bed) and G-Unit’s own Olivia as lead dancer. Young Buck and Lil’ Scrappy make their appearances. At the end it shows 50 asleep in a fast-food drive-thru daydreaming about the event and Olivia working as the cashier waking him up. The video was nominated at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2005 for Best Male Video, losing to Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks”. The single reached number one in the U.S. becoming his third number-one single and hit number four in the U.K. It was also nominated at the Grammy Awards of 2006 for Best Rap Song but only to be beaten for a third time by Kanye with ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’. It sat at number-one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine weeks. “Just a Lil’ Bit” is the third single dropped from the album which reached number three in the U.S. charts and number ten in the U.K. Produced by Scott Storch and written by 50 Cent. The music video is set in the Caribbean and follows a plot with other men attempting to take advantage of 50’s entourage of women but it shows 50 getting back at them in the end. “Outta Control” is the fourth and final single from 50 Cent’s second album which features Mobb Deep in their G-Unit introduction and the track later appeared on their G-Unit début album Blood Money. The single peaked at six in the U.S. charts and number seven in the U.K. It was written by 50 Cent, Dre, Mike Elizondo, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy and Havoc, M. Batson and S. Standard and produced by heavyweights Elizondo and the Godfather Dre himself. The track has a familiar Dre-touched head-nodding syrupy addictive whine to it which sets off Mobb Deep’s new career under Interscope. The video produced by Jesse Terrero is set in a nightclub featuring appearances from G-Unit’s Olivia, Young Buck and Tony Yaya. 50 and Mobb Deep sport T-shirts with the words “Game Over” symbolizing the departure of The Game from G-Unit over a continuing inter-label beef.
The Massacre hit number-one on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart and the U.K. Albums Chart that year and sold 1.15 million copies within its first four days of release. According to the figures produced by Nielsen Soundscan it became the sixth fastest-selling album since Soundscan began recording sales data in 1991. It also became the third best selling album of 2005 with 4.85 million copies sold worldwide. The Massacre was re-released in September 6, 2005 with a remixed version of “Outta Control” featuring Mobb Deep which included a bonus DVD with music videos for all of the tracks and a trailer for 50 Cent’s upcoming movie. 50 Cent lost out again to Kanye West’s Late Registration at the Grammys of 2006 for Best Rap Album.
“Piggy Bank” is the most controversial song since Tupac’s notorious “Hit ‘em Up” that blew up every enemy of Tupac’s across the music industry and there was a lot. This follows in similar ferocious format attacking long-time rival Ja Rule, Jadakiss and Fat Joe who worked with Ja Rule on his song ‘New York’, the track also aims at Shyne, Lil’ Kim and Nas.
JA RULE, JADAKISS & FAT JOE - In 2004 Ja Rule released a track for his R.U.L.E. album entitled “New York” which was well-received by fans with its heavy bass and edgy lyrics. The track featured New York’s Fat Joe and Jadakiss. This became a welcomed comeback into the public eye for the fading star that lost fame losing out to fellow Queens native 50’s verbal and physical attacks on his credibility and pride. Ja wasted no time in referring to the subject of his rap within the first few lines. Ja Rule referenced subtly to the tale of 50 Cent being a police informant in regards to Ja’s record label financier the notorious Ken McGriff and the Lorenzo brothers who run the label (Irving ‘Irv Gotti’ Lorenzo and his brother Rory Domingo Lorenzo). 50 Cent saw both Jada and Fat Joe siding with Ja in a predominantly 50 Cent dis-track and retaliated against all three in ‘Piggy Bank’. 50 also believed two collaborators have subliminally made reference to him in the past. 50 added insult to Fat Joe’s collaboration with his Terror Squad on the hit single ‘Lean Back’ which 50 accuses his rival of thinking his dance-smash hit was as successful as his own “In Da Club” sensation. 50 also rubs in his début album’s record sales over Fat Joe’s mediocre record sales in comparison.
SHYNE - New York’s Bad Boy rapper Shyne came under fire from 50 Cent originally when it was rumoured that he was in talks with joining Murder Inc. while he was incarcerated for the nightclub shoot-out involving P Diddy and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. 50 dissed Shyne on a mixtape freestyle. Shyne heard this and responded with an inside-prison phone freestyle recording where upon he threatened to handle their affair violently once he was released. This verbal threat saw him aimed at in 50’s commercial dis-track.
NAS – Back in 2003 another fellow Queens native Nas was rumoured to be in talks with Irv Gotti in regards to joining Murder Inc. but these proved to be incorrect but did not help strengthen ties between he and 50 Cent. Initially the Queens pair had been close professional associates before time tore them apart. 50 cites Nas as being too erratic in his behaviour and hard to trust. 50 also added that although Nas has in the past stood for peace… Except for his long standing feud with Jay-Z he was also the same person who verbally insulted Cam’ron, Nelly and Nore and Hot97 radio DJ Angie Martinez on June 27, 2002 without warning. Nas quickly turned to apologise those he attacked and reverted back to his peaceful ways. It is unclear if this is the sole reason for 50’s attack on Nas in ‘Piggy Bank’ but it is apparent Nas had made disparaging remarks against him prior to this track. At a free concert in Central Park, New York City Nas made a statement regarding the essence of 50 Cent’s music,
“This is that real New York shit, not that fake shit! Not that 50 Cent!” -This could be construed as 50 Cent’s main reason for adding Nas to the song.
The video for ‘Piggy Bank’ was computer animated featuring a parody of Fat Joe looking like the King Hippo character from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Jadakiss was made out like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Nas as a henpecked husband literally chasing after his wife, R&B starlet, Kelis. The song was recorded before the internal rift between The Game and G-Unit as he was mentioned pro-G-Unit although a parody of The Game is shown as Mr. Potato.
Piggy Bank’s aftermath had Jadakiss and Fat Joe responding with their own freestyles. Jadakiss’ “Checkmate” and Fat Joe’s “My Fo’ Fo’” although Fat Joe declared that would be his only retaliation to 50 Cent, Jadakiss and his D-Block crew threatened to make the feud the cornerstone to their continuing careers. 50 responded to that in Tony Yayo’s “I Run N.Y.” closing with 50 Cent mentioning the fact that Jadakiss still does not own the publishing rights to his own music and threatened to buy the rights from Bad Boy’s CEO P. Diddy who has always owned them. Soon after Jada and The Lox appeared on N.Y.C.’s Hot97 radio station and stated they would retire from recording music due to most of the money earned went to Bad Boy.
Despite stating he had only the one response Fat Joe attacked G-Unit once more at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards by making a disparaging comment about G-Unit during his performance. 50 and G-Unit retaliated immediately by shouting obscenities toward Fat Joe and Terror Squad. Nas was the last to make a response for “Piggy Bank” on July ’05 with the song “Don’t Body Ya Self(MC Burial)” which taunted 50 Cent and his G-Unit crew by claiming their earlier dis-track was not directed toward Nas but his family because he was afraid to get into a war of words with Nas directly. He also threatened to end 50’s career and claims to be King of New York. Both 50 and Nas have yet to respond to each other.
Throughout the shoot-out 50 added that Ja Rule sings instead of rapping and should be regarded as an R&B singer. Ja Rule retaliated by accusing 50 Cent for insulting rappers to gain fame. Ja Rule eventually tried to squash the beef by using Minister Louis Farrakhan in a televised interview. Ja soon lost credibility when the interview was screened a day before his album Blood In My Eye was due to drop the streets. This lead 50 Cent to dismiss the affair as an obvious publicity stunt and therefore did not comment on the F.B.I. probe into his label Murder Inc. and Irv Gotti.
This spiralling beef between New York artists and affiliates turned inward to the Shady/Aftermath camp when 50 Cent had a falling out with Eminem’s former DJ Green Lantern who he labelled as being a snitch and traitor for his apparent phone call to Jadakiss. Lantern interviewed him over his feud with 50 Cent, encouraging the artist to deliver a major blow to 50 Cent. 50 never confronted the DJ about the situation but it did profoundly affect the relationship within Shady Records resulting in Green Lantern leaving Shady Records and other Eminem associated projects.
50 Cent: Trademark
The ostensible protagonist has been capitalising on his multimedia trademark since his career blew up under Dr. Dre’s direction and has since released the G-Unit logo branched over to clothing, sneakers with Reebok and even bottled water. His latest venture saw him endorsing a video game called ’50 Cent: Bulletproof’ from Genuine Games available on Playstation 2 and Xbox platforms. The single-player game’s premise centres on 50 Cent with his gangster persona dealing with his controversial real-life drama seeking vengeance as he fights his way through the criminal underworld to hunt down the men who are responsible for shooting him treading carefully so as not to resemble the actual suspected perpetrators of the real-life attempted murder incident. The video also stars Eminem as a corrupt cop, Dr. Dre as an arms dealer and G-Unit’s Tony Yayo, Young Buck and Lloyd Banks make up 50’s gang. The video game was officially released on November 17, 2005 accompanied with a soundtrack released by Shadyville Entertainment and produced by DJ Whoo Kid. It contains several new songs including ‘I’m a Rida’ and ‘P.I.M.P. Pt.2’ The song ‘Maybe We Crazy’ won “Best Original Song” in the 2005 Spike TV Video Game Awards.
Despite the video game carrying as ESRB rating of “Mature” and not for children at all 50 Cent claims the video game is educational teaching young kids how bad gang-life really can be as a point of discouraging it. Of course many political leaders claim Bulletproof warrants no educational basis and deem it a very violent nonsensical game. The game received poor reviews, Gametab rated it only 49% noting game-play problems and earned Xplay’s “Worst Game for the PS2” award. However due again to the 50 Cent trademark it has sold over two million copies in the U.S. with many countries including Australia banning the product due to exceeding the MA15+ rating which is the highest rating outside of the U.S. Later a cut version was submitted and has since been approved for retail sale.
Prior to the release of GTA: San Andreas 50 Cent expressed a strong desire to feature in the game a major role. Rockstar denied he would take part in the video game. Allegedly approached other gaming companies to make his own game, hence the seeding of the idea to branch his trademark into the video game world with the end product being Bulletproof.
Straight after the release of his follow-up album 50 Cent was set to open up a career as an actor starring in his some-what autobiographical film ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’’ not unlike Eminem’s ‘8 Mile’. The filming was split between New York City and Toronto and released on November 9, 2005. The original name was Locked & Loaded, but the title was changed by 50 Cent to the same name as his debut album. The film details his violent and controversial life on the streets of Southside Jamaica Queens, New York City.Directed by Jim Sheridan and co-starring Bill Duke, Joe Bryant and Terrance Howard 50 plays Marcus Grier, a drug dealer aspiring to be a rapper. We are introduced to the character as a young boy abandoned by his mother constantly left in the care of his grandparents and eventually orphaned. He in turn takes to being a notorious drug dealer in the same ghetto-jungle as his mother scratched and much like his real life makes it out to become a successful recording artist. The movie holds stage for a character named Majestic as the Drug Lord quite possibly centred on Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff. The chilling and very gripping accounts through the film help the viewer to understand the passion and realism of 50 Cent’s professional life.
The movie received a majority of negative reviews, marking the rise-to-fame plot as too familiar and tiresome with a less than impressive acting debut of Curtis Jackson. It has become one of the lowest rated films on the Internet Movie Database with a destroying 2.9 out of 10 as of June 2006 and has sat comfortably on the bottom 100 films list. Rotten Tomatoes carried a low 17% positive review posting. Despite making $12 million in its first weekend the film was expected to be carried by 50’s strong popularity within the hip-hop industry but with negative press and general disinterest sales were way under expectation with a $40 million budget grossing a domestic $30,984,537 with additional $15,367,487 in foreign sales making it a disastrous box office bomb.
Accompanying the film was the soundtrack from G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records released November 8, 2005 with the first hit single ‘Hustler’s Ambition’ a personal favourite off the album of 50’s. The song details the rough upbringing in Southside Jamaica Queens surviving as a hustler by any means possible. The track contains elements from Frankie Beverly & Maze’s song ‘I Need You’. The video was shot in London, U.K. showing 50 coming into a training gym to train as a boxer with a boxing match at the end which 50 walks away from guest appearing his real-life grandfather as his trainer. The video shows trailers from the film. The track is heard at the end of the film as 50’s character performs it live on-stage. The 12” single also contained a live recording of ‘In Da Club’. ‘Window Shopper’ was the second single from the soundtrack and hit the U.S. charts at number 11. It contains a sample from Bob Marley’s ‘Burnin’ and Lootin’. The song is essentially about wealth and the ever-present bling. Filmed on location in Monte Carlo, Monaco and centred on the famous casino and surrounding restaurants and shops with the G-Unit soldiers including Mase gloating over over-priced purchases of expensive jewellery, cars and meals. 50 buys a $1,000,000 Maserati MC12, Mase a $500 milkshake and $300 cheeseburger.
Campaigns and Controversy
Before the release of his movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ controversy exploded over advertising billboards placed near schools featuring 50 Cent holding a gun in one hand and a microphone in the other. Protesters targeted Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles and Clear Channel in Philadelphia to the point where some were removed.
Other posters across the world were changed to depict 50 Cent cradling a baby boy in his arms. On the opening night, Shelton Flowers, 30 was fatally shot to death after an argument with another man near the concession stand inside a Loews multiplex in Homestead, Pennsylvania after a screening of the movie. In response, National Amusements theatre chain ended after-midnight screenings of the film, fearing further unrest relating to the nature of the films content.
Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly from The O’Reilly Factor urged boycotts against rap music as a whole industry while taping a show. He specifically used 50 Cent as a target of his crusade to prevent rappers who promote violence from endorsing mainstream merchandise. He criticized the Reebok Corporation for sponsoring 50 Cent and allowing him to open and endorse his own line of sneakers, G-Unit Sneakers. O’Reilly moved forward with his boycott against Reebok, despite this, sales remain sky-high and the shoe company continue to endorse 50 Cent’s image branching further out to endorse other controversial recording artists and outstanding athletes. However a television commercial for Reebok starring 50 Cent and Jay-Z was recently taken off air in the U.K. as the commercial contained lyrics from one of 50’s songs which resulted in complaints against “their violent imagery of life.” Like before, sales remain undeterred by the crusade against them, proving that any controversy makes for excellent marketing as history has shown us in hip-hop merchandising.
Dan McTeague (member of Canadian Parliament) put forward a request to the government that rapper 50 Cent be banned from entering the country to perform. He stated that the rapper’s message was inappropriate at a time when its largest city Toronto was experiencing a huge increase in gun violence. Despite this 50’s Canadian tour went ahead as scheduled and once again served to sell more tickets for his concerts. All publicity is good publicity in the end.
The Original 50 Cent
On March 2005 hip-hop’s most feared and loved troublemaker James ‘Henchman’ Rosemond (a man named responsible for Tupac’s 1994 Quad Studios attempted murder and the manager of The Game and the catalyst for his break-up with G-Unit) released a documentary called ‘The Infamous Times: The Original 50 Cent’ attempting to drop it in stores to coincide with 50’s new album ‘The Massacre’ which is set to begin a trend of street-released DVDs detailing the truth behind hip-hop’s most celebrated superstars. Henchman is a man who either works for you or against you, Henchman was directly working against the empire of 50 Cent and G-Unit.
The truth is Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson has taken the moniker of 50 Cent from a notorious Brooklyn stick-up hood of the 1980’s who carried two Dirty Harry handguns almost as big as his feared reputation. Kelvin Martin was the original 50 Cents (with the plural ‘s’ dropped by Jackson) who stood at a meagre 5’3” and controlled the streets with a ruthless confidence of invincibility. He aligned himself with the notorious Supreme Team who now has a contract on the recording artist 50 Cent. He also associated with rap stars of the ‘80s Eric B & Rakim. Martin robbed and murdered anyone who he could profit from, former friends, high-ranking drug lords and rappers including Whodini. His exploits were phenomenal and had the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster, but his escapades caught up with him eventually and he was consequently murdered at the behest of his victims. The surviving members of Martin’s family do not endorse Curtis Jackson or his 50 Cent trademark.
Rapper 50 Cent was interviewed through the making of the documentary about his namesake and he states he is paying homage to the street legend by carrying on his name commercially. However no proceeds of his booming multimillion dollar 50 Cent empire have been donated to Martin’s family. Henchman wanted to film 50 Cent purchasing a tombstone at $7,500 for Kelvin Martin’s grave telling Jackson it would give him great respect in the street. However Jackson never parted with the money and as Henchman states (Vibe December 2005) he had to chase him up for it and ended up purchasing the tombstone himself. Jackson’s attorney Mike Cooley said Jackson had agreed to appear in the DVD on the conditions that any proceeds he might earn would be contributed to the Martin family or to his own charitable organization G-Unity Foundation. Cooley puts it that Henchman refused this offer leaving Jackson to ultimately decline the use of his interview in the documentary. Jackson and his attorney filed a lawsuit against those involved in the distribution of the DVD for the unlawful use of the 50 Cent trademark. After July 9th 2005 the motion against any further distribution of the DVD was denied by a judge. As henchman was a manager of The Game this further distanced any relations between the two fallen-out Aftermath artists. However ‘The Infamous Times: The Original 50 Cent’ has continued sales and commercially sold over 150,000 copies with most fans downloading free copies over the internet.
Curtis v Kanye
“CURTIS” album was originally named “Curtis S.S.K.” for SoundScan Killer, but shortened to the present title. The title Curtis, obviously named after his own birth name. Also in retaliation to Cam’ron’s “Curtis” diss-track aimed at 50 in a continuous recording-war between both artists. It was marked for release by June 26th, but later pushed back to September 11th. It will drop on Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records.
50 told XXL Mag the reason for his label holding onto the album till September,
“Yes it’s true my album has been pushed back because it wasn’t delivered to the plant in order to be distributed and delivered world wide so it has to be pushed back.”
Singles dropped are “Amusement Park”, “I Get Money”, “Ayo Technology” and “Straight to the Bank” performed live for Floyd Mayweather Jr’s unified title super-fight against Oscar De La Hoya. Featured guests include: Eminem, G-Unit’s Tony Yayo and Young Buck, Timbaland, DJ Khalil, Akon, Pussycat Nicole Scherzinger and more.
In July 2007 famous recording rival, Kanye West was due to release his third album, “Graduation”, from September 18th, 2007, to that of 50 Cent’s “Curtis” date to yet again put his album in direct competition with his. The bets are on as the drop-date edges closer for both mega-stars of industry. (More on the sales battle here.)
Commercial Releases:YearAlbumRIAA SalesRecord Labels
- 2003Get Rich or Die Tryin’4x Platinum(Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
- 2005The Massacre5x Platinum(Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
- 2007Curtis1x Platinum(Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
- 2009Before I Self Destruct(unreleased)(Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
- 2000Power of the Dollar(unrated)(Columbia)
- 2002Guess Who’s Back?(unrated)(Full Clip
- 200250 Cent Is the Future(unrated)(Shadyville Ent.)
- 2002No Mercy, No Fear(unrated)(Shadyville Ent.)
- 2003Beg For Mercy2x Platinum(Gunit/Interscope)
- 2008Terminate On Sight(210,574+)(Gunit/Interscope)
- 2005Get Rich or Die Tryin’Marcus
- 2006Home of the BraveJamal Aiken
- 2008Righteous KillSpider
- 2008The Ski Mask WaySeven(pre-production)
- 2009Before I Self DestructClarence(announced)
- 2009Streets Of BloodStan Green(post production)
- 2009Dead Man RunningThigo(filming)
- 2009Spectacular RegretAmos Jenks(in production)
Music Industry Awards
- American Music Awards37
- ASCAP Awards110
- AVN Awards24
- BET Awards37
- BET Hip Hop Awards12
- Billboard Music Awards1318
- Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards716
- Grammy Awards013
- MOBO Awards30
- MTV Video Music Awards28
- The Source Awards30
- Vibe Awards58
- World Music Awards60