Founder: Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
Parent Label: Aftermath/Interscope-Geffen Music.
G-Unit is the New York group started by 50 Cent and is also his record label and market branding. G-Unit emerged on the scene by independently releasing several mixtapes. The name of the group is short for “Guerilla Unit” as well as “Gangsta Unit”.
The Early Years
The group’s founding members, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo all grew up on the same block, they rapped and sold drugs together. When 50 Cent was spotted and signed to a label, both Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo worked hard on mixtapes in order to gain attention as artists themselves. 50 Cent was then dropped from his label due to him being shot 9 times in front of his grandmother’s house. They saw 50 Cent as too much of a risk to keep. After being shot, 50 Cent signed to Interscope Records. Due to the success of his début album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, he was granted his own record label. This was when G-Unit Records was created. The group continued to work hard and released several mixtape series which earned them a lot of attention in the rap industry. The most prominent of these being 50 Cent Is the Future, God’s Plan, No Mercy, No Fear and Automatic Gunfire. G-Unit have also started a mixtape series with their DJ, DJ Whoo Kid, called G-Unit Radio. Before the group had a chance to record its début album, Tony Yayo was sentenced to prison for a gun-possession charge as well as bail-jumping. During Tony Yayo’s prison sentence, the group signed Nashville rapper, Young Buck. They continued their activity, working on yet more mixtape recordings. In particular, their ‘G-Unit Remix’ to 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” was successful. During Tony Yayo’s prison sentence, G-Unit recorded their début album, Beg for Mercy. The album was quickly released on November 14, 2003 to combat bootlegging and had significant commercial success. Tony Yayo made only two appearances on the album, both on songs that were recorded before his arrest.
Bang ‘Em Smurf was never an official member of G-Unit, but very closely affiliated with them before they signed to Interscope Records. He claimed that before 50 Cent saw mainstream success, the two recorded a mixtape from which they would earn $5 each, they sold 400,000 copies. 50 Cent allegedly never gave Bang Em’ Smurf his share. In addition to this Bang Em’ Smurf claimed that 50 Cent did not contact or bail him out while he was in jail. This led to him and his close friend, Domination, no longer wanting to be affiliated with the group. Domination was never an official member of G-Unit but was a close friend of Bang ‘Em Smurf during his G-Unit days. After the two had a brief feud with 50 Cent and G-Unit in 2003, Domination and Bang ‘Em Smurf were no longer associated with G-Unit. The Game was originally placed into G-Unit by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. However after a while tensions began to rise between G-Unit and the rapper. 50 Cent claimed that The Game was being disloyal to the group because he did not want to get involved with the feuds between G-Unit and other rappers, even going as far as to say that he wished to work with them. 50 Cent also felt that he did not receive enough recognition for the writing of tracks on The Game’s début album. This resulted in what is arguably the biggest feud since the feud between Nas and Jay-Z. Young Buck was an original Shady/Aftermath Entertainment member of G-Unit until mid 2008. On April 7th, 2008 on New York City’s own Hot97 with Miss Jones, 50 Cent stated and made it official that Young Buck was no longer a member of G-Unit but was under contract and would remain signed to G-Unit Records.
In 2003, the groups début album, Beg for Mercy, was released. However, whilst the album was being recorded, Tony Yayo was sentenced to jail on charges of gun possession. Therefore, he only makes two appearances both on pre-recorded tracks. His face is seen on the brick wall of the album cover because he could not be photographed on account of his jail sentence. Beg for Mercy sold 2.3 million copies in the U.S. and 4 million copies worldwide. The only featured guest on the album was R&B singer, Joe. Production came from Hi-Tek, Dr. Dre, Scott Storch as well as others. G-Unit have confirmed that they are currently working and recording for their second album, Lock and Load, which will be released during 2008.
The “G-Unit Clothing Company” was established in 2003, when 50 Cent teamed up with Marc Ecko (the founder of Eckō Unlimited), to create a line of clothing and accessories inspired by 50 Cent and fellow members of G-Unit. Young Buck has stated it features “More coordinated colors… a whole new flavor and a classy street look” and 50 Cent states that “The G Unit Clothing Company is Quality clothing… I think it’s the best possible clothing company.” G-Unit sponsors The Book Bank Foundation using profits from their clothing range as well as proceeds donated to the G-Unity Foundation.
In early 2005, a feud between The Game and G-Unit began. Even before The Game’s first album was released and their feud became public, there was tension between The Game and 50 Cent. Soon after The Documentary’s release, 50 Cent felt that the rapper was disloyal for saying he did not want to participate in G-Unit’s feud with other rappers, and even wanting to work with artists with whom G-Unit were feuding, such as Nas and Jadakiss. 50 Cent also claimed that he was not getting his proper credit for the creation of the album. He also claimed that he wrote six of the songs, but The Game denied that. During that dispute, a member of The Game’s entourage was shot after a confrontation at the Hot 97 studio in New York City. After the situation between them escalated, 50 Cent and The Game held a press conference to announce their reconciliation. Fans had mixed feelings as to whether the rappers created a publicity stunt to boost the sales of the two albums the pair had just released. Nevertheless, even after the situation had apparently deflated, G-Unit continued to feud with The Game, denouncing his street credibility in the media and claimed that without their support, he will not score a hit from his second album. The Game responded during a performance at Summer Jam and launched a boycott of G-Unit called “G-Unot”. The phrase G-Unot is a pun on the group’s name, and a pejorative term to refer to the group. It is short for “G (Gangster) You Not”. 50 Cent has since registered the G-Unot trademark for himself which has in turn prevented The Game from using it anymore. After the performance at Summer Jam, The Game responded with “300 Bars and Runnin’”, an extended track aimed at G-Unit as well as members of Roc-A-Fella Records on the mixtape You Know What It Is Vol. 3. 50 Cent responded through his “Piggy Bank” music video, which features The Game as a Mr. Potato Head doll and also parodies other rivals. Since then both groups continued to attack each other. The Game released two more mixtapes, Ghost Unit and a mixtape/DVD called Stop Snitchin, Stop Lyin. 50 Cent’s rebuttal was “Not Rich, Still Lyin’” where he mocks The Game. In addition, G-Unit started to respond on numerous mixtapes and new G-Unit member Spider Loc began insulting The Game in various songs. The Game responded with “240 Bars (Spider Joke)”, a song mainly aimed at Spider Loc, but also addressing Tony Yayo and rap group M.O.P., and on the song “The Funeral 100 Bars”. In October 2006, The Game extended a peace treaty to 50 Cent, which was not immediately replied to. However, a couple days later, on Power 106, he stated that the treaty was only offered for one day. On The Game’s album, Doctor’s Advocate, he claims that the feud is over on a few of the songs. The feud seemed to have gained steam after Tony Yayo allegedly slapped the fourteen year old son of Czar Entertainment CEO, Jimmy Rosemond. The Game responded with “Body Bags” on his mixtape, You Know What It Is Vol. 4. G-Unit have released a song named “We On Some Shit” which is aimed at Czar Entertainment as well as Cam’ron and Fat Joe. Before signing with Interscope Records, 50 Cent had been in disputes with rapper Ja Rule and his label Murder Inc. Records. 50 Cent claimed that the feud began in 1999 after Ja Rule spotted him with a man who robbed him of his jewellery. However, Ja Rule claimed the conflict stemmed from a video shoot in Queens because 50 Cent did not like Ja Rule “getting so much love” from the neighbourhood. A confrontation occurred in a New York studio where rapper Black Child, a Murder Inc. artist, stabbed 50 Cent, which resulted in him having three stitches. Since then, Black Child made two “disses” towards 50 Cent, “There’s a Snitch in the Club”, and “You the Wanksta”. In both songs, Black Child talks about shooting 50 Cent, stabbing him, and other things, “I got a lot of living to do before I die, and I ain’t got time to waste, shoot this nigga in his face”. The exchange of insultive tracks released from both parties culminated into Ja Rule releasing Blood in My Eye, which was an album that mostly insulted 50 Cent. Ja Rule eventually tried to squash the feud with 50 Cent by using minister Louis Farrakhan in a televised interview. However, the attempt at peace lost credibility as the interview was scheduled a day before Blood in My Eye was released. As a result, most fans, along with 50 Cent, dismissed the interview as a blatant publicity stunt. Because of the ongoing feud between the two, 50 Cent’s labelmates Eminem, Dr. Dre and Obie Trice have also become involved and have also released tracks which insults Ja Rule.
Ja Rule later released R.U.L.E. with the successful single, “New York”, featuring Jadakiss and Fat Joe in which Ja Rule took subliminal shots at 50 Cent. This single prompted 50 Cent to enter a feud with the two featured artists (see article on “Piggy Bank” for details). Although it seemed that the feud was over, Ja Rule returned with a track entitled “21 Gunz”. In response, Lloyd Banks and 50 Cent released the track “Return of Ja Fool” on Lloyd Banks’ mixtape Mo Money in the Bank Pt. 4, Gang Green Season Starts Now. In an interview with MTV, Ja Rule has stated that his new album, The Mirror, will not be continuing any past feuds that he has engaged in. He said: “There was a lot of things I wanted to say, and I didn’t want there to be any bitter records on the album. Because I’m not bitter about anything that happened [in the past few years].” 50 Cent pointed out that Fat Joe painted a target on himself for partnering up with Ja Rule in a song where Ja Rule insulted 50 Cent. 50 Cent recorded the track “Piggy Bank” in which he attacked Fat Joe. Fat Joe responded with a track entitled “My 44” and although he said that he would not respond, he made three more tracks, “Massacre of Fifty”, “Victim”, and “Whip Your Head”. 50 Cent and Tony Yayo took more shots at him on “I Run NY”. Even though things died down, at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, Fat Joe mentioned that all of the police presence in the venue was “courtesy of G-Unit” which related to his lyrical accusations that 50 Cent was a “snitch”. 50 Cent and Tony Yayo retaliated on set later in the show at the end of their performance by shouting obscenities towards Fat Joe and Terror Squad, which were censored by MTV. Tony Yayo claimed Fat Joe ran from them at the VMAs. Also, Pistol Pete (a non-rapping member of Terror Squad) appeared on The Game’s “Stop Snitchin, Stop Lyin” DVD and disrespected Tony Yayo, Chris Lighty (owner of Violator Records whom had ties with 50 Cent), and James Cruz (50 Cent’s manager) and claims he chased Tony Yayo near a jewelry store. Lloyd Banks, Spider Loc, and Young Buck have also been insulting Fat Joe. In 2007, the feud has only been carried on in interviews and by affiliates from both parties.
A feud between 50 Cent and Cam’ron began when 50 Cent was on Hot 97 giving an interview and Cam’ron called in. Cam’ron asked 50 Cent whether he had the power to stop records from being released on Koch Records and 50 Cent said that he does in some respects. As the conversation escalated into an argument, 50 Cent called Koch Records the “industry graveyard”. Cam’ron replied and started insulting G-Unit by saying that Jim Jones’ newest album sold just as much as Lloyd Banks’ album did, despite the fact that Dipset is on an independent label and G-Unit is on a major label. 50 Cent took offense to this and said that Lloyd Banks has more money than Jim Jones, which makes record sales irrelevant. Cam’ron lost his temper and started ranting. Most notably, he brought up the poor record sales of the new Mobb Deep album. His rant became so profane and disruptive that the radio station was forced to hang up on him. On February 9, 2007, a video premiere of 50 Cent’s “Funeral Music” appeared on DJ Kay Slay’s Myspace. The video attacked the leader of Dipset. This is not seen as an attack on other members of Dipset, as 50 Cent says “From now on, Jimmy’s the boss of Dipset. And Juelz is the Capo. Cam is demoted to soldier. We like Jimmy better anyway”. At the end of the video, there is a poster showing a fictional drawing of Cam’ron with a gun saying “50 Cent” on the burial, along with his date of death; being February 8 when the video was released. Cam’ron recently responded with a track called “Curtis” titled after 50 Cent’s first name. Cam’ron doesn’t state too much, other than claiming he enjoys 50 Cent’s shoutouts to Dipset members Juelz Santana and Jim Jones, then goes on to discuss Santana’s and Jim Jones’ sales on their recent albums. 50 Cent and Young Buck made the song “Hold On” together with a video in which 50 Cent takes shots at Cam’ron. Cam’ron responded with “Curtis pt.2”, which he shot a video for. In an interview with MTV Tony Yayo aired his feeling about Cam’ron. He said: “I don’t believe Cam’ron, I don’t believe Jim Jones, I don’t believe Lil Wayne, I don’t believe Baby, I don’t believe Game and I don’t believe Fat Joe. I feel like Cam’ron is a peon. Let’s ask the general public: When was the last time Cam’ron made a fucking hit? It’s time for these niggas to pay the piper.” A minor feud between G-Unit and DJ Khaled began when, on Rap City, DJ Khaled was asked to choose three classics out of a total of eight albums. He chose every album except Get Rich or Die Tryin’. This resulted in Young Buck releasing an un-named track which insults DJ Khaled and Terror Squad. Young Buck also commented on the situation in an interview.
- Lloyd Banks
- Tony Yayo
- Mobb Deep
- Spider Loc
- The Game
- Young Buck
- 2003 G-Unit Beg for Mercy (Chart: #3) RIAA: 2x Platinum
- 2004 Lloyd Banks The Hunger for More (Chart: #1) RIAA: Platinum
- 2004 Young Buck Straight Outta Cashville (Chart: #3) RIAA: Platinum
- 2005 The Game The Documentary (Chart: #1) RIAA: 2× platinum
- 2005 Tony Yayo Thoughts of a Predicate Felon (Chart: #2) RIAA: Gold
- 2005 Soundtrack Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (Chart position: 2) RIAA: Platinum
- 2006 Mobb Deep Blood Money (Chart position: #3)
- 2006 Lloyd Banks Rotten Apple (Chart position: #3)
- 2006 Lil Scrappy Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live (Chart position: #24)
- 2007 Young Buck Buck the World (Chart position: #3)
- 2007 Freeway Free at Last (Chart position: #42)