In mid 2003 50 Cent stepped out on stage for the first time. With a roaring crowd and a large future ahead 50 Cent gloated for a little while on stage. He’d worked long and hard for this moment, and the work wasn’t over. When his first album ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ went gold in its first week, the music world knew it had a new star. But he says he never forgets how much of the ‘lucky shot’ he got, and he’ll never take advantage or forget what he’d done before his stardom.
Curtis Jackson III (50 Cent) was born on July 6, 1975, in South Jamaica, Queens New York, to 15-year-old Sabrina Jackson. Curtis never knew his father and his mother never talked about him. Sabrina (the youngest of nine children) originally stayed at her parent’s house. Until she found her own apartment and tried to make it on her own, making money by hustling drugs. It was successful but she left Curtis at her parent’s house, to be safely raised.
But when Curtis was eight years old his mother was murdered during a drug deal. He says he remembers his grandparents crying, and that “Even at eight years old, you know hat it means when you hear your mother isn’t coming back. It meant that Christmas was over”. After his mother’s death, Curtis followed in his mother’s steps. At age 11 he began hustling drugs after school. After a year he says he became pretty good at it. But when he was 17 he was arrested and given a drug test. He failed and was sent to a drug rehabilitation facility for two years. But soon after his release he returned to hustling and was then pulling in over $5,000 worth of drugs a day.
Business was good, until yet again the police caught up to him. Except this time he faced nine years in prison. Although, since he was still a teenager, they offered him an alternative. If he enrolled in the New York State Department of Correction Services Shock Incarceration Program, which was essentially a boot camp in the woods of Beaver Dam, he would avoid the jail sentence. After being release from the boot camp, he had performed a total of 650 hours of physical labor.
He again returned to drug dealing, but he promised himself that he would only deal drugs until he could find honest pay. But in 1997 his girlfriend Tanisha gave birth to a baby boy, Marquise. It was then he decided that he wanted to be a part of his child’s life. So he quit hustling, and began to pursuer his music career.
In 1996 a friend had introduced Curtis to Jason Mizell, otherwise known as Jam Master Jay, from the successful rap group ‘Run DMC’. He listened to some of Curtis’s mix tapes and was impressed. So he signed him to a contract, which gave him access to a studio where he could perfect his skill. It was Jason who officially got Curtis out of drug dealing.
In 1999 he decided to give himself a name. He named himself after Kelvin Darnell Martin: a street thug that had once used the name ’50 Cent’. Curtis said he was a stickup guy and he wanted to keep Kelvin’s name alive.
After he produced dozens of mix tapes, he finally got the attention of Columbia Records. Columbia signed him to a record deal and he recorded his first official album ‘Power of the Dollar’. But in May 2000, as Columbia was preparing to release ‘Power of the Dollar’, 50 Cent was shot while sitting in his car outside his grandmother’s house. He endured nine bullet wounds, including one shot that hit him in the mouth, knocking out one of his teeth. He survived the shooting, telling the police that it may have been payback for a drug deal he had pulled years ago. However, Columbia Records thought that he was sending the wrong sort of message to listeners and abruptly shelved the album and cancelled the contract. Leaving 50 Cent to produce more mix tapes. This time without a contract.
But this time he caught the attention of rapper and producer Eminem, who declared him an incredible talent and signed him to a record deal with his record label, Shady Records, along with Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment. 50 recorded tracks for Eminem’s semi-autobiographical film 8 Mile. All was well for a little while again, until the scuffle he’d had with Ja Rule a few years back came back to taunt him. He was lightly stabbed by one of Ja Rule’s men. The police offered him protection but he turned it down. He did however begin wearing bulletproof vests whenever he went out in public.
Finally, in 2003 he got the fame and wealth he’d always wanted. But a week before his album ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was released; it had already been illegally downloaded 300,000 times. Although most artists would be upset 50 Cent doesn’t look at it that way. In an interview with USA Today he said, “I wouldn’t exist as an artists without it. If you can create enough of a demand to be bootlegged before you have a deal, it is the greatest form or promotion.” Because of the illegal download the company had to move up its release date. In February 2003, during the first four days of the albums release, it sold 872,000 copies. The following week another 822,000 albums were sold. The CD was so hot stores couldn’t keep it stocked.
Later that year when he was performing at the World Music Awards ceremony in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in 2003 he won awards for Best Artist, Best Pop Male Artist, Best R&B Artist, Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Best New Artist.
By this point, 50 Cent had revolutionized the hip-hop world. No less, he was beginning to rule the hip-hop world. With his movie ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ he’d now become an actor, along with rap star.
In 2005, 50 Cent released his second album The Massacre, which was noted not as good as Get Rich or Die Tryin’ but it did reach number one on both the American and British charts. Fans still responded incredibly well to the new album. In April 2005 singles from the album held 4 of the top 10 places on the sales charts. The last recording stars to accomplish a similar feat were the Beatles who did it in 1964. Just a few months later 50 Cent release his autobiography From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens.
And although Curtis was shunned from several award ceremonies at first, and though he showed his anger at a few of them, Curtis didn’t quit. After his book signing he said in an interview with MTV news, ‘I want to see what they do if I sit down for a minute. When I say ‘sit down’ I don’t mean I won’t be active-I’ll go outside the country and start developing my base outside the country a little more while they think I’m at home chillin’-then I’ll come back and finish them off.”
Curtis came back to ‘finish us off’ as he put it, in his new album ‘Before I Self Destruct’. In his new album he’s the still the same ill-tempered, smooth talking, and spiteful, Fiddy. His hit with Ne-Yo ‘Baby by Me’, made it on radio faster than the rest of his album. And though his new album isn’t quite as heart felt as his first album, it’s still gangster reminiscent, and more or less reflects upon his past and how he’s trying to transform himself into a more respectful man.
By now, 50 Cent has become a revolutionary sensation, and a king of rap music. And though he was once a gangster, he’s changing into a better person. And no matter what he does, his fan base will always support his every move.
Check out his new album here: Before I Self Destruct
Plus check out his two video games: 50 Cent’s Blood on the Sand , Bulletproof
Hip-Hop’s 50 Cent by Hal Marcovitz
From Pieces to Weight by 50 Cent