50 Cent is the kind of guy I wouldnít mind switching lives with. The riches, the adoring women, the worldwide fame and, most of all, the adrenaline of performing in front of 500,000 fans are things that only a few of us can ever experience. Without big, in your face extroverts like him, the music world would be much less exciting. By now, everybody knows his rags to riches story ~ the one-time drug dealer who overcame incredible odds to make it out of the hood alive and become an international success.
Itís a given that with new album Curtis, 50 is poised to continue his meteoric rise on the charts and break records worldwide. For anything hip-hop-related these days has his face, thuggish voice or some hook from one of his hit singles plastered all over it.
Why Is He Famous Again?
50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) was off the radar by most measures until his first album hit the industry. His rise to superstardom in the mainstream hip-hop world was a result of his popularity through the years as an underground rapper. As the story goes, the mix tapes he made while hustling on the streets of New York is what hooked Eminemís attention, and led to his $1 million signing to Dr. Dreís Aftermath Records. While hip-hop in general has become known for the flashy jewels, souped-up automobiles and gangster-ridden, drug-peddling, thug lifestyle, 50 Cent managed to carve his own niche in the industry since day one and has remained in a class of his own. Heís got the vision and the talent and isnít afraid to go after what he wants. Leading an appropriately full life of drugs, violence and well-endowed women, his exploits have defined what huge rappers are supposed to do to flaunt their celebrity. Saying that 50 Cent is cool is an understatement; he is the oracle of everything hip.
Finely tuned to market the music and himself, heís sold a cool 30 million records worldwide mostly on the basis of his street cred. Thanks to hit single In Da Club, his 2003 debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryiní, sold a record-breaking 12 million worldwide. Follow-up The Massacre sold over seven million copies on release and currently claims to hold the record for being the biggest-selling rap album in India. The first artist since The Beatles in 1964 to have four songs in the top ten of Billboardís Hot 100, heís living every manís dream. These days, his life is an endless bevy of beautiful hip-hop honeys, glamorous locales, outrageous expensive toys and big award ceremonies. In the age of 15 minutes of fame and the advent of fabricated rap stars, itís a testament to his perseverance and talent that a couple of albums in, heís still around.
Hip-Hopís Biggest Business Mogul:
50 dropped out of high school as a teenager and never went to college, yet heís become the model for rap stars everywhere on how to succeed in this tough business and get rich quick while doing it. Raised without a father, he learned the tricks of the drug trade young by observing his motherís hustling ways. By the time he was eight years old, his mother was dead, and 50 soon began hustling on the streets of New York. After making a name for himself as a lucrative drug dealer, he found himself frequently in trouble with the law and everyone he knew felt that he would spend most of his life in prison. They were wrong. Hustling taught him how to be a loud and a notorious showman, braggadocios and he became a master of self-promotion ~ thatís how he rose from being a drug dealer to becoming the fastest selling debut artist of all time.
A masterful brand-builder and a shrewd businessman, his multimillion-dollar empire currently includes (among many things) a record label (G-Unit Records), a watch line (G-Unit Watches) fashion stores (G-Unit Clothing), footwear (he tied up with Reebok and has his own line of sneakers with the brand), drinking water (Formula 50), video games (like the multimillion selling 50 Cent: Bulletproof) and even comic books. Earlier this year, he even turned publisher and author when Time Warner gave him his own G-Unit Books imprint. He co-wrote G-Unitís first book The Ski Mask Way (a story about a small-time drug dealer who attempts to rob his employers), and the novel was so successful that itís being made into a big Hollywood movie next year! Also in the works are 50 Cent jewellery, sunglasses and even customised Pontiac cars and automobile accessories.
He reinvents himself and the rap business ever so often. His solo work is impressive, but his rolodex of friends in the industry that go to great lengths to work with him in the studio speaks volumes about his accomplishments, and his future. The true sign that a rap artist has arrived is how ubiquitous he becomes, as others clamour for a rhyme or guest appearance. Unlike most of rap musicís superstars, this man can write songs as well as he performs them. From verbally wrecking a testy counterpart to discussing how to treat a woman fine, he always succeeds in coming up with the real goods. Heís collaborated with some of the best and brightest minds in the hip-hop industry, and has been amply rewarded for all his creative efforts. And if we failed to mention it before, he started his own record label in 2002 (G-Unit Records) and has produced and discovered a barrage of hit rappers like Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo as well.
Curtis ~ The New Album:
50 Cent has always been in the front as the centre of hip-hop, so it should come as no surprise that with his latest release Curtis, heís being hailed as the new king of all rap music. His name has in some way, shape or form been attached to anything successful in hip-hop music as of late. 2007 could be summed up in 3 minutes and 20 seconds with the albumís club banging first single Straight To The Bank in the top five the world over.
With his music riding high on the charts, we caught up with 50 to let us know what the fuss is all about:
The biggest misconception people might have about you?
50: (Laughs) That Iím a workaholic. Iím not a workaholic...I just consider myself very ambitious...and regardless of how well I do, Iím always looking forward to moving to the next level and the next level and the next level. Regardless of what you get youíll always see someone on the tier ahead of you...it shows you that you did good, but you could do better. I got to stay active or Iíll fall on my behind at some level...cause thereís somebody out there thatís hungry, thatís working the streets that deserves a shotÖ
We heard you got a new sneaker coming out. What other 50 Cent and G-Unit stuff can we look forward to in the future? Is it really true thereís a 50-themed bulletproof car in the works?
50: Yeah. (Laughs) I have a new sneaker coming out and also we just got our very first TV game thing. I actually did a deal with Pontiac for a new edition car theyíre putting a little more meat on, so thatís cool (laughs again). The vehicle is based on the car collection I own. Itís going to be different because no other artist has taken it to the extent where theyíve selected car parts or cool things in the carÖand thatís because they donít have the same interest I have in actual vehicles. If I wanted toÖIíd just do the commercial and be paid for that...
So you personally take interest in everything that has your name on itÖ
50: Yeah. I donít allow any deal I make to take me too far from what Iím doing creatively in music. I canít do something that totally doesnít match. Some artists may compromise themselves based on the market and the dollars provided for the project...but I wonít. (Laughs)
Itís been awhile since we heard any new music from you. What took you so long?
50: Initially, I recorded 10 tracks and the concept was about self destruction...and I called it Before I Self Destruct. (Laughs) I was writing to that concept, before I changed the concept to Curtis. Itís more like Batman Begins...cause itís life prior to Get Rich Or Die Tryiní. (Laughs) I think thatís cool...it has more vulnerable points than the albums that Iíve created in the past. I consciously kept myself from making a record that would resemble a G-unit record...because my fans expect me to release a new G-Unit record in the fall quarter.
Whatís the Curtis stand for?
50: I came up with the title...this is actually my third album, and a lot of people donít know that my name is Curtis Jackson. My grandfather was Curtis Sr; his first born was Curtis Jr and Iím his first grandchild, so Iím Curtis Jackson the third. So thatís why it made perfect sense to name my third album Curtis. (Laughs)
You seem to have a lot to say on this record. It comes across as a confessional piece of workÖ
50: Straight To The Bank is the only [track] that reflects on my financial state. (Laughs) The majority of my music has something from me personally. I wanted to make the album human, so I wanted all the songs to catch the human emotions. At some point, this album reminds me of a childís perspective...it has a childís innocence to it. I tested the waters for the first time over here...me writing things that were kinda sensitive issues for me when I was younger...but [that Iíve gotten over] as an adult. I put it out there so people can embrace me for who I am. Iíve tried to make the record deal with everything that applies to the emotions that every man goes through on some level.
You can read the rest of our cover story on 50 Cent in the September 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.
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