to read the review for 'Get Rich or die Tryin' written by Jim Farber of
the New York Daily News
-"GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN" will drop February 6th and will
include a limited edition DVD with behind the scenes footage of 50 Cent.
A Teaser of the DVD is Available with the January addition of XXL Featuring
50 Cent, Eminem and Dr. Dre on the Cover (hits news stands 1/28)
When 50 Cent
smiles, his eyes narrow into tight little slits. For a guy who has been shot
nine times, who began selling crack when he was twelve, who was allegedly stabbed
during a recording-studio scuffle with Ja Rule's posse and who typically poses
for the covers of his bootleg CDs holding some manner of firearm, 50 smiles
with a disarming frequency. 50 smiles while talking about his own shooting.
He smiles after describing the murder of his mother, when he was eight years
old. When he says, "I know if I ever ran into someone's house during a
robbery, I'm not leaving no one in that house to be a witness for me, I'll kill
everybody in that motherfucker before I go," he is smiling. He speaks in
a low, gentle voice, and there's a dimple on the edge of his left cheek. Which,
upon closer examination, you realize is a bullet wound.
In the spring of 2000, after retrieving some jewelry from his grandmother's
house in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York, 50 was shot in the face, hand
and legs by a man with a 9 mm pistol. "He was as close as I am to you,"
50 says. We're sitting across from each other at a narrow conference table in
the office of his management company, in Manhattan's Flatiron district. 50 tugs
down his lower lip and leans forward to display the spot where the bullet lodged
in his lower gum. There's still a gaping wound where several of his rear teeth
though, who shot me," 50 mentions. He's smiling. I ask whether 50 knows
why he was shot in the first place. "When you make a decision to change
your life, everybody around you doesn't decide at the same time," he says.
The year before the shooting, 50 had signed a deal with Columbia Records and
was slowly extricating himself from the crack trade. "And the things you
do come back. I shot people before. I ain't gonna tell you who." His smile
shifts now, from bemused to more philosophical. "So, yeah, it is, what
goes around comes around."
50 Cent was the
subject of a record-label bidding war last year. He'd released a series of bootlegs
-- generally murder ballads larded with more gun jargon than a National Rifle
Association convention -- that showcased his smooth delivery over hook-laden,
unauthorized samples.The twenty-seven-year-old eventually signed with Eminem's
Shady/ Aftermath label, reportedly for $1 million. His first single for Em,
the catchy "Wanksta," appeared on the 8 Mile soundtrack and quickly
became a hip-hop radio staple, and his full-length, Get Rich or Die Trying,
due out in February, features the party song "In Da Club," driven
by a loping, ominous beat courtesy of Dr. Dre. 50's witty boasts are an obvious
fit with Eminem. "This rap shit is so easy, I'm gettin' what you get for
a brick to talk greazy," 50 raps on "Wanksta," while on the bootleg
track "8 More Miles" he ends an extended metaphor (himself as a drug)
with the lines, "Wall Street niggas/ They cop me on the low/White boys
don't call me coke/They call me blow." Still, with so much potential profit
on the line, it's impossible to ignore the fact that 50's thug life is being
exploited in order to sell him as the rapper who keeps it realest.
As he talks, 50
folds and unfolds a four-inch pocketknife, occasionally using it to poke at
the battery cover of his Motorola pager, which has been taped shut. He sports
the standard-issue bling: cross, watch, stud earring, all enormous and diamond-encrusted.
Tattoos drape both arms, and a gray NBA cap is pulled low over his small ears.
He looks, when he enters the room, almost freakishly built, like a cartoon superhero,
his chest protruding from his baggy white hip-hop T-shirt. Upon closer examination,
it becomes clear he's wearing a bulletproof vest. "Oh, yeah, I put it on
right after my underwear," 50 says, yanking up his shirt to reveal a black
padded vest. His three-man security detail and the members of his G-Unit crew,
the rappers Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, also wear vests, as does a guy whose
sole purpose seems to involve holding onto a locked briefcase that belongs to
50. (There are many possible ways to feel awkward in an interview situation,
but being the only person present not wearing a bulletproof vest may be the
50 first received
widespread press coverage in November, when police questioned him in the days
following the slaying of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay. 50 has also been involved
in a long-running feud with Ja Rule and his label, Murder Inc. He says that
Ja is the inspiration for "Wanksta." According to 50, the beef started
when Ja was robbed by an acquaintance of 50's from the neighborhood. "Put
it like this, if you grew up where I grew up, you gonna know people who rob
people," 50 says. He shrugs. "He's pop. What makes him envy me is,
I can sell records the way he would like to sell records. People don't wanna
hear that story from him. He jumping around on TV too long in the rain with
Mary J. Blige." Neither Ja Rule nor his record company would comment for
Born Curtis Jackson,
50 never knew his dad. His mother, Sabrina, sold drugs until her murder, after
which 50 moved in with his grandmother and soon began dealing himself. "The
older dudes, they'd already seen me from when I was so big," he recalls,
"so it was, 'Oh, that Sabrina's boy. He ain't gonna tell no one. He was
raised doing this shit.' "
50's first arrest
went down at his high school. He would hide crack vials in his sneakers, and
he accidentally brought the wrong pair to school for gym class. Still, he rose
in stature on the streets, eventually running an operation that grossed $5,000
a day, he says. "But I was going back and forth to jail. So when the opportunity
came with the music, I wanted to try it."
came when 50 met Jam Master Jay in 1996. 50 had been rapping for fun, at parties
and on the streets, just like most of his friends. He talked Jay, who had a
studio and record label, into letting him make an audition tape. "The music
thing was a positive move, and I felt like that's the way it was going,"
50 says. "Everybody who sold drugs in my hood, the older people, all in
the music business now. If they're not in the business, they're protecting somebody
in the business. People wanna portray things they haven't lived. If you gonna
run around and say you a murderer, and you don't kill nobody, you need a killer
in your vicinity." 50 also had a natural talent for turning his bio into
compelling three-minute narratives. His rhyming skills eventually caught the
attention of Columbia Records. In 1999, 50 signed a deal with the label for
$250,000, receiving a $65,000 advance; $50,000 went to Jay, $10,000 to an attorney.
And what, one wonders,
did 50 buy with the $5,000 left?
I bought crack cocaine with it. How else you gonna provide for yourself? I did
thirty-six songs in eighteen days for Columbia. Then I had eight months go by
with no work going on." Growing increasingly impatient with the glacial
speed of a record-label bureaucracy, 50 decided to record a single that would
gain him instant attention. In the summer of 1999, he released "How To
Rob," which describes, in hilarious, often mocking detail, the various
ways in which he planned to jack the hottest hip-hop and R&B stars of the
time, from Mariah Carey to Jay-Z. "When robbery's not out of the question,
it's kinda easy for a song like that to fall into your thought pattern,"
50 says. "Bigger artists have bigger diamonds. Kids in the hood is looking
at the TV, going, 'Damn it, look at that shit he got on!' Rappers have egos,
so I was anticipating them being upset. But I didn't care, 'cause it had been
a year since the deal with Columbia, and I'm still selling crack." The
song was a hit, but complaints from several of the lampooned artists made Columbia
nervous. After his shooting, the label happily released him from his contract,
so 50 began selling his own music straight to bootleggers. A CD made its way
to Eminem, who, on a Los Angeles radio show, declared 50 his favorite rapper.
believes in fate, that he survived his shooting for a reason. "With some
artists, people look at them and wanna be that artist," he says. "I
don't think people wanna be me. I'm still searching for my purpose. I do have
defects of character. When I get mad, I get mad. I can do things and say things
that" -- he pauses and smiles -- "aren't nice. And people, they look
at me and they go, 'Well, he's crazy.' " Another pause. Then: "Is
crazy bad? Me being crazy is . . ." 50 Cent shrugs. "I'm all right
His crew, G-Unit
: Lloyd Banks
Banks linked up with 50 and Yayo rapping, fresh out of High School in 1999 at
the age of 17. This is when he was subjected to, what he feels is the hatred
in the rap game. Bank feels most people don't like rappers because they get
the spotlight. In 2001 around the Sept 11 incident Banks was shot twice. He
feels this was due to all the hatred in the game but it just made him bounce
The incident sticks in Banks mind as the point were he really, really started
taking rap serious. When he recovered from the incident, he laid down his first
rhyme in the studio, which is a song on the G-Unit cd, (Song # 6) G-Unit soldiers.
Banks currently doesnt listen to any other rappers except his crew. He
says " My ears are closed to everybody, except 50, Yayo, and myself. He
says "I'm the hungry young nigga in the crew. So if anyone has something
to say about g-unit as a group or 50 cent as an artist, hes the one who
will respond." He knows they are hot right now and only want to get hotter.
They are currently recording G-Unit Part 2 in the studio.
He got his first break with a very small-unknown record label, First Choice.
There, Tony rapped on local mix tapes and earned neighborhood respect as a good
rapper. Since he knew 50 cent, he hooked up with him in about 1998, when 50
cent was signed to Columbia records. 50 took Tony under his wing and brought
him places. Around this time 50 cent shot his first video in Cancun and took
Tony along with him. Here Tony says, "I seen people wearing houses around
their necks and BenZ's on their wrist." In Cancun Tony realized that the
entertainment business was definitely real. He realized that these rappers were
making more money or just as much as big time drug dealers. He realized selling
drugs had no future for him, but death or jail. Tony realized 50 cent was the
only one around the block he looked up to that was still around to enjoy and
talk about his life. This was the change that Tony wanted, and is now pursuing.
Currently Tony is one of the hottest underground street rappers on their verge
of signing to a major label. He sticks with 50 cent because he knows 50 cent
is definitely going places and is a great mentor to the game. Their g-unit cd
is taking them to the top. Tony feels he is still a hustler but with music now.
He says, " I'm not trying to be 30 still on the strip, I'm trying to be
30 filthy rich." He feels that through the music industry he will stay
young because there are always new aspiring young individuals that will keep
him motivated to work hard and do what he does best. Tony says, rapping
has got to be the way."