50 Cent BiographyWith his mother passing away when he just eight years old and his father bolting shortly thereafter, it's no wonder that relationships outside the family grew to mean so much to 50 Cent. What often appears as a feuding, hostile nature might be better understood as human reactions to what he views as betrayal and disloyalty.
"Every record he's selling is based on me being on his record with him." ~ 50 Cent on The Game
Take his well-publicized riff with The Game. It started with Fifty's war against Jadakiss, Nas and Fat Joe which was instigated by several perceived offenses. First, it was reported that Nas, who was later to sign with the Murder, Inc. label, had publicly dissed him and G-Unit while performing in New York. Then, Jadakiss and Fat Joe both earned an enemy tag by appearing in a video in which Ja Rule dissed Fifty. Naturally, Fifty expected fellow G-Unit member The Game to support him in his war, but during a radio interview The Game said this, "I ain't gonna turn on my friends and Nas is one of my friends, and Jada's really a homie... 50's beef is 50's beef and I really don't know where all this stems from." Soon after, Fifty reacted with an announcement that The Game had been removed from the G-Unit. He also took credit for The Game's success.
"But, it makes no difference because I'm gonna make more off his album than he will. He'll make a little paper and think people are feelin' him… but, in reality they feelin' me and that nigga just ridin' on my work." ~ Fifty on The Game
To use the term "broken home" to describe Fifty's early family history is sort of like saying a guy died of a head injury when in truth his head was blown off with a shotgun. Born Curtis Johnson to a crack addict father and a hustling bi-sexual mother ("Comin' up, I was confused, my momma kissin' a girl / Confusion occurs, comin' up in a cold world."). After his mother died and father left ("Daddy ain't around / Probably out committin' felonies."), he was raised by his grandmother.
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.
"It wasn't personal. It was comedy based on truth, which made it so funny." ~ Fifty on "How To Rob"
On May 24, 2000, just before Power of the dollar was to be released, Fifty was shot 9 times with a 9mm pistol while sitting in the passenger seat of a car in front of his grandmothers house in Queens. He spent the next few months recovering from the barrage of bullets that had torn through his cheek and his hand as well as his legs and thighs. Citing bad publicity, Columbia Records shelved Power of the Dollar when they got word of the shooting and dropped Fifty from the label.
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.
"People have disliked me since I can remember. It's just more people like me now than people who dislike me." ~ 50 Cent
The Massacre, 50 Cent's much anticipated second album was released on March 3, 2005. Singles from the album, "Candy Shop" and "Just A Lil' Bit," each exploded onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the former peaking at number one, the latter at number three. Like Get Rich or Die Tryin', The Massacre jettisoned to the top of the charts and achieved seven time platinum status. It was edged out by Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi" for the top-selling album of 2005.
Curtis, his third studio album, was released on September 11, 2007. It features 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.
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."
© Copyright 2003- by Ace Toscano. All rights reserved.