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The Biography of 50 Cent
50 Cent (a.k.a. Fifty or Fiddy as pronounced in African American Vernacular English, born Curtis Jackson on July 6, 1976 in Queens, New York), is a popular African American hip-hop artist. Once almost unknown outside his hometown of southside Jamaica, Queens, he is currently signed to Eminem's record label Shady Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. The rapper, who was the first to sign to Shady Records, was scouted before knowing Eminem. Eminem first encountered 50 Cent with MTV News reporter Sway Calloway; Eminem apparently had not heard any of 50 Cent's performances before seeing him in person. He appeared on the 8 Mile soundtrack with an accompanying song and video ("Wanksta") that immediately went into heavy rotation on BET, MTV, and radio stations across the country. In the opinion of many observers his continued success seems guaranteed by his large underground fanbase and the street credibility he has gained by appearing on almost every major mix tape sold in New York in the past few years.
Interscope Records has sold 50 Cent as the "real deal", as the success of an artist in gangsta rap depends on an image of street credibility and reputation. His mother was killed in a drug deal, he was a drug dealer himself, he has been shot nine times (nine bullets in one single shootout, not nine separate incidents as some believe), and he built a large rap empire in New York City before ever signing a major record deal. These facts are probably used as part of the marketing strategy for his brand.
Curtis Jackson never knew his crack cocaine-addicted father, and his mother, a bisexual Queens drug dealer working under "Fat Cat", was murdered when Jackson was only eight years old. Her death had a major impact on Jackson, the degree of which is speculated over by fans, and her sexuality also played a key part in Jackson's emotional growth, which he would later reference in the song "Hate It or Love It" off The Game's album The Documentary), "Comin' up, I was confused, my momma kissin' a girl/ Confusion occurs, comin' up in a cold world". The same song also contains a mild indictment of his father's absence, "Daddy ain't around, probably out committin' felonies".
After his mother's death, Jackson ended up living with his grandparents, where as a teenager he became immersed in the local drug trade. Hustling around his native Jamaica, Queens neighborhood, Jackson went by the name of "Boo Boo". It was during this period of distributing narcotics that Jackson met fellow Queens native Tony Yayo, who would later become a member of Jackson's G-Unit group. In June of 1994, Jackson was arrested on felony drug charges. Being a second time offender, Jackson was able to plead out of significant prison time by accepting seven months in a "shock incarceration" boot camp. He would later boast about this period as his doing "seven to nine."
He became a father to a son, Marquise in 1997. Jackson met up with Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC fame and was signed to his label JMJ. Jay taught him the basics and then 50 left the label in search of someone who could help him achieve his dream of rap stardom. He teamed up with the hip-hop production duo Track Masters who recognized 50 Cent's talent for incisive lyrics and signed him to Columbia Records in 1999. Although he looks back on this time with displeasure (his biography refers to it as being "locked up in the studio"), the 18 days spent in a studio in Upstate New York produced 36 tracks which later became his breakthrough album Power of the Dollar. "How to Rob", the humorous ode to robbing a slew of industry rappers (Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Busta Rhymes (Flipmode Squad), various members of the Wu-Tang Clan, even Track Masters, and many more) was an instant hit for New York radio. Power Of The Dollar was never released, due to his shooting in 2000 and Columbia Records executives decided to drop him, claiming the shooting was negative publicity.
Eminem & Shady Records
50 Cent is the Future was heard by a very impressed Eminem who brought the rapper to Dr. Dre's attention. Dre endorsed the ideas of signing a deal and working with 50 Cent on an album. Eminem was quick to get onto New York's hip-hop radio circuit with the message that 50 Cent was his favorite rapper at the moment. After a meeting with Interscope and Eminem in Los Angeles, 50 Cent quickly signed a deal with Interscope/ Aftermath (Dr. Dre's label)/Shady (Eminem's label) to release a record. Before starting production of his new album with Eminem and Dre, 50 quickly released another bootleg album of his raps over stolen beats entitled No Mercy, No Fear with the only 'original' production being "Wanksta", a veiled dis aimed at 'industry' rapper Ja Rule. Although "Wanksta" was never meant as a radio single, under the barrage of 50 Cent albums and the buzz over Eminem's words of praise and subsequent deal with 50 Cent, "Wanksta" quickly became the most requested song on New York radio. Capitalizing on the appropriated song's success, it was added to Eminem's hit movie soundtrack 8 Mile and had its own video release, quickly entering heavy rotation on MTV, BET, MuchMusic, and radio stations around the country.
Wealth & Success
50 Cent from the Album: "Get Rich or Die Tryin
In its first week of release, 50's first major label debut Get Rich or Die Tryin' sold 872,000 units. The album was certified gold in its first week and platinum the next, and it broke the record for first week sales of any major label debut in the entire SoundScan era. On April 12, 2004 Get Rich or Die Tryin' was certified seven times platinum (i.e. has sold 7,000,000 albums) by the RIAA.
50 Cent and the future
Although originally planning on releasing a new album before the end of 2003, 50 decided to push the album release back to February of 2005. "I was thinking of releasing the next album in November, but I'm gonna wait," 50 Cent said in April 2003. "Get Rich or Die Tryin -- I don't think it will be over by then. I still got records I could shoot visuals for. I don't want to get ahead of myself." 50 Cent has invested in G-Unit related promotions as well as his own clothing line. After the release of Beg For Mercy from his group G-Unit, he teamed up with Reebok to release his own G-Unit Sneakers. Also the rapper invested in bottled water. 50 Cent guest starred on an episode of The Simpsons entitled, Pranksta Rap on February 13th, 2005.
On March 3, 2005, 50 released the album "The Massacre". It was originally entitled "St. Valentine's Day Massacre", but changed when the album release date was set back. He scored a hit with the album's first single, "Candy Shop". The album has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. The album's second single, "Just A Lil' Bit" peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A video game starring 50 Cent, called 50 Cent: Bulletproof, will be availible in Fall 2005. It is published by VU Games. It will be available on the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, and there is another version in production for the PlayStation Portable.
Disputes and controversy
Before even signing to Eminem's and Dr. Dre's label, 50 Cent was engaged in a well-publicized dispute with rapper Ja Rule and his label Murder Inc. Records. The rappers engaged in numerous mixtape "disses," but have since ended the conflict. The conflict started from alleged accounts stemmed from an apparent robbery of Ja Rule's jewelry led to a confrontation from a member of Murder, Inc stabbing 50 Cent. Before the release of Get Rich Or Die Tryin', Murder, Inc alongside The Source began a smear campaign against the rapper. A restraining order document was floating around the Internet stating that 50 Cent had placed label CEO, Irv Gotti and rapper Black Child in the document forging a belief that 50 Cent is a "snitch" or a police informant. Although 50 Cent dismissed the claims of a restraining order, the bad publicity continues to be a tool used among various rappers who engage in beef with G-Unit. This was one of the most well known feuds in hip-hop history. Ja Rule eventaully tried to squash the beef with 50 Cent by using Minister Louis Farrakhan in a televised interview. Ja Rule soon lost credibility when the interview was done a day before his album Blood From My Eye was release, in which 50 Cent dismissed the interview as a blantant publicity stunt. However, as of 2004, 50 Cent had not commented much on Ja Rule's and Irv Gotti's situation. The FBI is probing Murder Inc.'s '(Now referred to as simply The Inc.)' ties to drug-kingpin Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff.
50 Cent also has a rivalry with former allies Shyne, Jadakiss, Nas, and Fat Joe. He claimed that Nas had made disparaging comments about him and his G-Unit camp while performing at a New York concert. The rapper has denounced Nas as a traitor over the alleged signing to the Murder Inc label. 50 Cent points out that Jadakiss and Fat Joe were notorious for allowing themselves to partner up with Ja Rule while filming a video in which the rapper took shots at him. He recorded the "Piggy Bank" attack directly at Jadakiss and Fat Joe for their association with Ja Rule. Also, jailed rapper Shyne was named as an enemy of 50 Cent. Shyne had Irv Gotti and Ja Rule produce his album, and 50 Cent also attacked him for this association. 50 Cent has also had a long-standing dispute with former proteges Bang 'Em Smurf and Domination over internal conflicts. On the song "Love Me" off the 8 Mile soundtrack, 50 Cent criticized Lil' Kim for having breast implants and discusses why he refused her request to be in a video clip for her single "Magic Stick", which he refused to record with her, citing that song was originally entitled to Miami rapper Trina.
50 Cent also had a little known feud with Jay-Z in 1999. Jay-Z did not take to kindly to 50 Cent's mention of him on "How To Rob," and Jay-Z made a diss aimed towards 50 Cent ("Go against Jigga your ass is dense/ Im about a dollar what the fuck is 50 Cent/"). 50 Cent responded with "Be A Gentleman," though the track was never heard by many due to 50 Cent getting dropped from Columbia Records after his shooting. 50 Cent and Jay-Z eventually squashed their beef, and they toured together in 2003. Jay-Z and 50 Cent even appeared in a Reebok commercial together promoting their sneaker lines, called S. Carter and the G-Unit, respectively.
While appearing at the Summer Jam XI concert in New York, 50 Cent and his members of G-Unit were being criticized for speaking out against other notable artists including R&B singer R. Kelly. Before the singer was to come on stage, 50 Cent mentioned R. Kelly's pending child pornography trial. He and his crew received mixed emotions from the crowd and chairs were thrown onstage,(In which Jackson threw them back into the crowd) forcing 50 Cent and G-Unit to leave the stage for safety reasons. 50 Cent was also dramatically booed off stage at the Reading Festival while on tour in England. A rain of bottles (and a camp stool) hit him and his G-Unit crew as they came onstage. Chants of "50 Cent is a wanksta" were heard as the group was jeered and heckled throughout the short appearance.
50 Cent has also had feuds with members of his own label. Most recently G-Unit member, The Game, was a target of 50 Cent's feud. 50 Cent explained his displeasure of The Game in Vibe Magazine and also publicly on New York's radio station Hot 97. The rapper officially booted The Game out over his disloyalty to not participate in the rap war with Jadakiss, Nas and Fat Joe. The rapper also claimed that he was not getting his proper credit for the debut of The Game's Documentary album. The Game counters that he quit G-Unit before being kicked out. During that dispute, a member of The Game's entourage was shot and wounded after confrontation at Hot 97. After the situation between them escalated, 50 Cent and The Game decided to hold a press conference to announce their reconciliation. 50 Cent also launched a new Charitable Organzation called G-Unity, aimed at helping the less fortunate in the inner cities. Despite the truce, 50 Cent and The Game now appear distant from one another. In recent magazines, 50 Cent is still dissing The Game over the public fall-out. The rapper claimed that he will not participate on the next album The Game releases and will feel it through multi-platinum sells. And most recently G-Unit artist Tony Yayo was blantantly dissing The Game on New York's Power 105 FM. The Game has not responded to any of the comments. 50 Cent filed a lawsuit against Jimmy Henchmen, the manager of The Game. The rapper sued Henchmen over the filming of the DVD the original "50 Cent" in Infamous Times. The movie chronicles the life of Kelvin "50 Cents" Martin and the rapper authorized footage for the DVD. Henchmen dismissed the lawsuit, stating that 50 Cent's jealousy to The Game was a reason for him to react to suing him. The Game performance at Summer Jam XII only comfirms that feud with G-Unit is still on-going. The Game abuptly brought out a mascot looking like a rat wearing a G-Unit tank top. The rat was soon beat down by members of Black Wall Street. The rat was apparently to represent 50 Cent. The Game has responded to G-Unit by releasing 300 Bars and Running, a diss directly to 50 Cent and other members. He also began selling G-Unot shirts on his website.
50 Cent also had a fall-out with Eminem's former deejay Green Lantern. The deejay has been labeled a "snitch" and "traitor" for his apparent phone conversation with rival Jadakiss. Jadakiss had phone interview with DJ Green Lantern over his the feud with 50 Cent. The deejay was apparently encouraging Jadakiss to "deliver a major blow" to 50 Cent. The rapper never confronted the deejay about the situation, but it did affect the relationship within the Shady Records. The situation forced Green Lantern to leave Shady Records and other ventures associated with Eminem.
On a taping of The O'Reilly Factor, conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly has insisted boycotts against rap music. O'Reilly named 50 Cent as a member of his crusade to stop rappers who promote bad behavior from endorsing mainstream merchandise. He criticized shoe maker Reebok for partnering up with 50 Cent to endorse his G-Unit Sneakers. O'Reilly has rallied a boycott against the shoe maker. Despite the boycott, sales remain excellent, and Reebok still continues to endorse 50 Cent's products. However, a television advertisement for Reebok which featured 50 Cent was recently taken off air in the United Kingdom. The advertisement contained lyrics from one of 50's tracks, which resulted in complaints against their violent imagery.
See hip hop rivalries for more information.
After the success of 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin', Interscope granted 50 Cent his own label, like his mentor Eminem. In 2003, G-Unit Records officially became a record label. 50 Cent appointed his manager Sha Money XL as the president. 50 Cent is the first signed artist to G-Unit Records besides the original Shady and Aftermath Records. In 2003, the label signed on Lloyd Banks (Christopher Lloyd), Tony Yayo (Marvin Bernard) and Young Buck (David Danell Brown) as the established members of G-Unit. In 2004, 50 Cent alongside Dr. Dre signed The Game (Jayceon Taylor) to the label. As of 2005, R & B singer Olivia (Olivia Longe), DJ Whoo Kid, and west coast rapper Spider Loc joined G-Unit Records. 50 Cent had recently been in the press. The rapper has been scouting for a new hardcore rap group. 50 Cent has officially signed the Brooklyn veteran-duo M.O.P., and gangsta crooner Kokane is apparently signed to the G-Unit. The rapper is in talks with Lil' Scrappy and Mobb Deep. Scouts have been also looking for Houston rap legend Big Love of Candy Sto' Productions. There is no official signing of these artists but it may happen within his upcoming Anger Management Tour.
Along with the aforementioned Bill O'Reilly, many other people have criticised 50 Cent for being immoral. It is felt that his music celebrates guns and drugs, without any emphasis on social or moral consciousness. More recently, 50 Cent has been chastised for being a "sellout" due to his generally torpedinous flow, as well as for the lyrics being seen as shallow by many listeners. Ironically, the Ja Rule feud was started when 50 labeled Ja as a so-called "wanksta",
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