TIt’s that same street-born confidence that led hip-hop dream team Eminem and Dr. Dre to sign the former Jamaica, Queens crack dealer and music industry-shunned MC to their Shady/Aftermath imprint. The same sneering swagger that propelled 50 from underground mix-tape king to the top of Billboard album charts with his 2003 major-label debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’, a landmark record that to date has sold well-over 10 million copies worldwide. And the same two-fisted ambition that saw the savvy ‘hood entrepreneur lead his infamous G-Unit clique to multi-platinum glory, making 50 Cent’s G-Unit record label a major player in the music biz.
Now with the release of The Massacre on Thursday, March 3rd, easily the most anticipated album of 2005, 50 Cent looks to continue his domination of the hip-hop world and beyond. And for the man born Curtis Jackson that means destroying the competition. “They have to survive me going around the country with this record,” laughs the self-assured MC whose beef-igniting reputation has become as infamous as his street worn past. “My thought process going into The Massacre took me back to the days when I was hustling. I’m looking to move the competition off the block. I feel like anything less than what I’ve accomplished with Get Rich is a disappointment. I had time to grow during the last two years, so I just feel like I’m a better artist.”
50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson, epitomizes the hustler’s spirit. While most artists would have been content with the massive spoils of multi-platinum album sales, high profile magazine covers, sold-out tours and omnipresent coverage on MTV and BET, 50 Cent wanted more. He set up his own label with longtime partner Sha Money XL and presented his juggernaut G-Unit clique with the 2004 quadruple platinum Beg For Mercy. 50 oversaw the immense solo shine of Lloyd Banks (The Hunger For More) and Young Buck (Straight Outta Cashville), further expanding G-Unit’s takeover agenda. A clothing deal with Ecko Unlimited for his G-Unit line and an unprecedented shoe endorsement pact with Reebok can be added to his successful resume.
50 Cent’s rags to riches ascension did not go unnoticed by Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan (In America, My Left Foot), who signed on to direct the rapper in the upcoming motion picture drama Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. And more recently 50 teamed up with Dr. Dre for the Aftermath/G-Unit joint release of West Coast savior The Game, whose no. 1 debut The Documentary sold over a remarkable 500,000 units its first week.
We talk to the man himself; 50 Cent.
I heard you bought a place in Connecticut.
Yeah, I bought Mike Tyson’s house.
How do you like it there?
Man I love it.
I’m looking to move out there.
No, wife and kids.
Then Connecticut is perfect. It’s quiet. I was going to say if you’re single you might want to be somewhere else like the city (Manhattan). But in Connecticut you get more for your money.
You put a studio in your house right?
Yeah. I just got it done and worked on the record in there.
Can you separate the time for relaxing from making music?
Not really. Dre used to have a studio in his house and he took that shit out of there because he was working all the time. So when he is at home he’s home relaxing and when he’s at the studio he’s doing his thing. For me I’m trying to—without working at the pace I’m working at I can’t progress at the pace I’m progressing at.
On one hand it can be a good thing because your son can be with you.
Yeah, he thinks he’s a grown man. (We both laugh) He comes in the middle of everything that’s going on and starts playing with me—then we’ll stop and go play.
Are you out trying to relax sometimes though and you come up with something hot and you can’t wait so you have to go record it?
Yeah, but he’ll give a look like ‘yo, you just came back.’ He’ll say it though, you know? Like “you just came home and all you do is this.” And then I’ll stop and go ahead and hang out with him.
Would you want your son to get into the game?
I wouldn’t aim him towards anything. What he likes right now is—he’s a basketball fanatic. I have people come over and we practice with him and play inside the house, but he’s more—right now I just make him do his school work. He’ll find his direction. I don’t want to force him into any direction.
Is there ever a case where you want to lay something down and you don’t want him to hear it?
Nah, you know what it is? He’ll hear whatever I’m working on so I’ll explain it to him instead of hiding it from him. I’ll always explain it to him.
Speaking of the tracks, do you just flow on a beat?
Yeah, I write to the music.
Is it natural now or still work?
For me musically melodies are getting more natural.
Do you find it a gift?
I think it’s a gift. Like everything else though practice makes perfect. The more you work the better you get at it. That’s why I don’t think I’ve peaked—I’m only getting better and better.
You in particular and the way you are portrayed—do you think that people expect you to be one-dimensional?
They make me out to be one-dimensional. There is a song on my new album, “God Gave Me Style,” that no one has heard from me to this point because my music tends to be aggressive. But I speak about the harsh reality.
Now someone said that you were interested in signing Ja Rule to your label, but I don’t think that sounded right.
It ain’t. I was joking.
I thought so.
I was joking because you know all that’s been going down at his label. What was funny though was that the Game’s record came out and sold more records in its first week than Ja’s did in eleven weeks.
When you are working on someone’s record, like Game’s, is the stuff done and you come in and drop your rhymes or is it the opposite?
Opposite, I created those records. We worked around me.
Is there ever a case where you lay something down on another record and you’re like “damn, I want that back”?
All the time. (We laugh) Every time I go in and do it and it turns into a smash hit I’m like “damn, I could have had that one myself” but I ain’t selfish, so I sacrifice.
Do you think fans and the media want 50 Cent to be who they envision him to be; the thug, the guy who got shot, etc. and don’t want to imagine you are more than that when you are a father, a business man, etc?
Yeah, I mean they pick the parts that you say are real and not the parts they don’t want.
+ Charlie Craine