Inevitably, young Curtis or, as he was known on the streets of Queens, "Boo Boo" became immersed in the local drug trade and, as you might expect, he excelled at it. He was in and out of the "joint," and in June of 1994 he was arrested on felony drug charges. He pled out, accepting a seven month stint in boot camp, and thereby avoided hard time. About then, Fifty decided to turn away from crime and into rap.
The birth of his son Marquise in 1997 caused Fifty to reassess his situation and to pursue rap with an increased intensity.
In 1996, Fifty met and impressed Run-DMC's DJ Jam Master Jay who signed him to his JMJ Records label and taught him the basics - how to count bars, how to structure songs, and the value of good production. In that respect the relationship was fruitful but, when it became clear that it just wasn't going to happen with JMJ, Fifty signed on with Trackmasters, the New York based duo Poke and Tone. Trackmasters signed him to their Columbia label and shipped him upstate where they recorded 36 songs in 2 1/2 weeks. The product of this effort, Power of the Dollar, was to be his first album. Three singles that preceded the album's release, "Your Life's on the Line," "Thug Love" featuring Destiny's Child, and "How to Rob." "How to Rob," which portrayed the up-and-coming Fifty daydreaming about robbing several established rappers, received a lot of play on NY radio. Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, DMX, Big Pun, Sticky Fingaz, Ghostface Killah and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan were not amused.
Undaunted and unwilling to give up the dream, Fifty spent two years, 2000-2002, churning out mix-tapes. He also formed a collective, G-Unit, which featured boyhood friend Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks. The mix-tape tracks made with the assistance of Sha Money XL and many of which were hosted by DJ Whoo Kid earned him a following in the New York underground scene. It was the red, white and blue bootleg tape, 50 Cent Is the Future, in which he rapped over beats previously used by Jay-Z and Rapheal Saadiq, that eventually came to the attention of Eminem. When Em reported on radio that 50 Cent was currently his favorite rapper, Fifties stock immediately spiked. There followed a bidding war that ultimately garnered Fifty a million dollar plus contract with partners Eminem and Dr. Dre (Shady/Aftermath) and placed him, once again, in the spotlight.
Before work began on his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin', Fifty released another underground album - No Mercy, No Fear - in which he once again rapped over previously used beats. The only original song on the tape was "Wanksta," an attack on rival Ja Rule. Eminem decided to include the track on the 8 Mile soundtrack and "Wanksta" became an immediate hit. "In da Club," a Dre-produced single from Get Rich or Die Tryin', followed and climbed to the top spot of Billboard's Hot 100.
To ward off bootleggers, "Get Rich or Die Tryin" was released early. It sold 872,000 copies in its first week and broke the record for a major label debut. Immediately certified gold, it went platinum the following week. By April 12, 2004, Get Rich or Die Tryin' had been certified platinum seven times (7,000,000+ copies sold) by the RIAA. By now, it has surpassed the 8 million mark.
Fifty decided against releasing a follow-up too quickly. "I was thinking of releasing the next album in November, but I'm gonna wait," 50 Cent said in April 2003. "I don't think it (Get Rich or Die Tryin') will be over by then. I still got records I could shoot visuals for. I don't want to get ahead of myself."
In the meantime, he spent time on G-Unit related productions.
In March of 2009 it was reported that 50 Cent would join Fall Out Boy for five dates of their Believers Never Die Part Deux tour. "We've been fans of 50 since we heard 'Wanksta' in '8 Mile,' " said Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy drummer. "We've wanted to do something with him for awhile, and having him out on the tour is gonna take the show to a whole new level."
Curtis, Fiddy's third studio album, was released on September 11, 2007. It featured production from Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Timbaland, among others. Guest appearances include Akon, Justin Timberlake, Nicole Scherzinger, and other notable musicians. Containing a mixture of "hard" songs and "soft" songs, the album was released to significant commercial success, selling 691,000 copies in its first week on the Billboard 200. Subsequent albums, Before I Self-Destruct (2009) and Animal Ambition (2014) enjoyed only moderate success. But, let's not shed any tears for poor Curtis - despite financial problems which included a $7 million law suit settlement and a bancruptcy, he was reported in 2019 of having a net worth in excess of $30 million. Let's hope he's smart with his money.