Curtis James Jackson III (born July 6, 1975), better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper. He rose to fame with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and The Massacre (2005). Both albums achieved multi-platinum success, selling over twenty-one million copies combined.
Born in South Jamaica, Queens, 50 Cent began drug dealing at the age of twelve during the 1980s' crack epidemic. After leaving drug dealing to pursue a rap career, he was shot nine times in 2000. After releasing his album Guess Who's Back? in 2002, 50 Cent was discovered by rapper Eminem and signed to Interscope Records. With the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre—who produced his first major commercial successes—he became one of the world's highest selling rappers. In 2003, he founded the record label G-Unit Records, which signed several successful rappers such as Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo.
50 Cent has engaged in feuds with other rappers including Ja Rule, The Game, and Fat Joe. He has also pursued an acting career, appearing in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin' in 2005, the Iraq War film Home of the Brave in 2006, and Righteous Kill in 2008.
Jackson began boxing around the age of eleven. At fourteen, a neighbor opened a boxing gym for local kids. "When I wasn't killing time in school, I was sparring in the gym or selling crack on the strip", he recalled. In the mid 1980s, he competed in the Junior Olympics as an amateur boxer. He recounts, "I was competitive in the ring and hip-hop is competitive too... I think rappers condition themselves like boxers, so they all kind of feel like they're the champ". At the age of twelve, Jackson began dealing narcotics when his grandparents thought he was at after-school programs. He also took guns and drug money to school. In the tenth grade, he was caught by metal detectors at Andrew Jackson High School. He later stated, "I was embarrassed that I got arrested like that... After I got arrested I stopped hiding it. I was telling my grandmother [openly], 'I sell drugs.'"
On June 29, 1994, Jackson was arrested for helping to sell four vials of cocaine to an undercover police officer. He was arrested again three weeks later when police searched his home and found heroin, ten ounces of crack cocaine, and a starter gun. He was sentenced to three to nine years in prison, but managed to serve six months in a shock incarceration boot camp where he earned his GED. Jackson said that he did not use cocaine himself, he only sold it. He adopted the nickname "50 Cent" as a metaphor for "change". The name was derived from Kelvin Martin, a 1980s Brooklyn robber known as "50 Cent". Jackson chose the name "because it says everything I want it to say. I'm the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means".
50 Cent's popularity started to increase after the successful but controversial underground single, "How to Rob", which he wrote in half an hour while in a car on the way to a studio. The track comically explains how he would rob famous artists. He explained the reasoning behind song's content as, "There's a hundred artists on that label, you gotta separate yourself from that group and make yourself relevant". Rappers Jay-Z, Big Pun, DMX, and the Wu-Tang Clan replied to the song and Nas, who received the track positively, invited 50 Cent to travel on a promotional tour for his Nastradamus album. The song was intended to be released with "Thug Love" featuring Destiny's Child, but two days before he was scheduled to film the "Thug Love" music video, 50 Cent was shot and confined to a hospital due to his injuries.
Mike Tyson, offered $50,000 towards a "hit" on two members of a violent gang suspected of killing Darryl Baum. The allegation was made by Dwayne Meyers, another former member of the Cash Money Brothers (CMB), a Brooklyn street gang accused of drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder. Meyers, who along with several CMB members were indicted in 2005 for drug dealing and murder, made the claims as he testified at the trial of Abubakr Raheem. Raheem is accused of driving a getaway car after two turf-war killings.
50 Cent recalled the incident saying, "It happens so fast that you don't even get a chance to shoot back... I was scared the whole time... I was looking in the rear-view mirror like, 'Oh shit, somebody shot me in the face! It burns, burns, burns.'" In his memoir, From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens, he wrote, "After I got shot nine times at close range and didn't die, I started to think that I must have a purpose in life... How much more damage could that shell have done? Give me an inch in this direction or that one, and I'm gone". He used a walker for the first six weeks and fully recovered after five months. When he left the hospital, he stayed in the Poconos with his then-girlfriend and son. His workout regimen helped him attain his muscular physique.
While in the hospital, 50 Cent signed a publishing deal with Columbia Records. However, he was dropped from the label and "blacklisted" in the recording industry after it was discovered he was shot. Unable to find a studio to work with in the U.S, he traveled to Canada. Along with his business partner Sha Money XL, he recorded over thirty songs for mixtapes, with the purpose of building a reputation. 50 Cent's popularity rose and in 2002, he released material independently on the mixtape, Guess Who's Back?. Beginning to attract interest, and now backed by G-Unit, 50 Cent continued to make songs. They released the mixtape, 50 Cent Is the Future, revisiting material by Jay-Z and Raphael Saadiq.
In February 2003, 50 Cent released his commercial debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Allmusic described it as "probably the most hyped debut album by a rap artist in about a decade". Rolling Stone noted the album for its "dark synth grooves, buzzy keyboards and a persistently funky bounce" with 50 Cent complementing the production in "an unflappable, laid-back flow". It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 872,000 copies in the first four days. The lead single, "In da Club", which The Source noted for its "blaring horns, funky organs, guitar riffs and sparse hand claps", broke a Billboard record as the most listened-to song in radio history within a week.
Interscope granted 50 Cent his own label, G-Unit Records in 2003. He signed Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck as the established members of G-Unit. The Game was later signed under a joint venture with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. In March 2005, 50 Cent's second commercial album, The Massacre, sold 1.14 million copies in the first four days—the highest in an abbreviated sales cycle— and peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 for six weeks. He became the first solo artist to have three singles on the Billboard top five in the same week with "Candy Shop", "Disco Inferno", and "How We Do". Rolling Stone noted that "50's secret weapon is his singing voice - the deceptively amateur-sounding tenor croon that he deploys on almost every chorus".
After The Game's departure, 50 Cent signed singer Olivia and rap veterans Mobb Deep to G-Unit Records. Spider Loc, M.O.P., and Young Hot Rod later joined the label. 50 Cent expressed interest in working with rappers outside of G-Unit, such as Lil' Scrappy of BME, LL Cool J from Def Jam, Mase from Bad Boy, and Freeway of Roc-A-Fella, some of whom he recorded with. In September 2007, he released his third album Curtis, which was inspired by his life before Get Rich or Die Tryin'. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 691,000 units in the first week, behind Kanye West's Graduation, whom he had a sales competition with, as both albums were released on the same day. He confirmed on TRL on September 10, 2008 that his fourth studio album, Before I Self Destruct, will be "done and released in November".
In 2005, 50 Cent made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons episode "Pranksta Rap", in which he makes light of his legal troubles. The same year, he starred alongside Terrence Howard in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He starred in the 2006 film, Home of the Brave, as a soldier returning home from the Iraq War, traumatized after killing an Iraqi woman. 50 Cent is working on a role as a fighter in an Angola State Prison in Spectacular Regret alongside Nicolas Cage, and starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in 2008's Righteous Kill, a movie regarding a police death. He also started the film production companies G-Unit Films in 2007 and Cheetah Vision in 2008. In August 2007, 50 Cent announced plans to launch a dietary supplement company in conjunction with his movie Spectacular Regret.
Shortly before appearing in Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 Cent released a memoir about his life and how he became successful titled From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens. On January 4, 2007, he launched his G-Unit Books imprint at the Time Warner Building. He also co-wrote The Ski Mask Way, a novel about a small-time drug dealer who attempts to rob his employers, which is to be turned into a film. 50 Cent said he read Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War and worked with the author on a book titled The 50th Law, an urban take on The 48 Laws of Power. In May of 2008 50 Cent meet billionaire Patrice Motsepe to forge a joint venture with Motsepe that could bring him an equity stake in his mine.
50 Cent has a tattoo of "Marquise" with an axe on his right biceps. "The axe is 'cause I'm a warrior. I don't want him to be one, though", he explains. He also has "50", "Southside", and "Cold World" inscribed on his back because "I'm a product of that environment. It's on my back, though, so it's all behind me". 50 Cent dated actress Vivica A. Fox in 2003. After a few months, he announced their split up on the The Howard Stern Show when pictures from a photo shoot they did ended up on the cover of Today's Black Woman magazine without his knowledge.
50 Cent expressed support for President George W. Bush in 2005 after rapper Kanye West criticized him for the slow response in assisting the Hurricane Katrina victims. If his felony convictions did not prevent him from voting, he claimed he would have voted for Bush. He later stated that Bush "has less compassion than the average human. By all means, I don’t aspire to be like George Bush".
In 2007, Forbes recognized 50 Cent for his wealth, placing him second behind Jay-Z in the rap industry. He resides in Farmington, Connecticut, in the former mansion of ex-boxer Mike Tyson. He put the mansion for sale at US$18.5 million to move closer to his son who lives in Long Island with his ex-girlfriend. On October 12, 2007, the Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut declared it "50 Cent Curtis Jackson Day". He was honored with a key to the city and an official proclamation. One of his homes in New York purchased for 2.4 million dollars in January 2007 and at the center of a lawsuit between 50 Cent and ex-girlfriend Shaniqua Tompkins caught fire on May 31, 2008 while he was out of town filming for a movie in Louisiana.
An affidavit by an IRS agent suggested that the label had ties to Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, a New York drug lord who was suspected of being involved in the murder of Jam Master Jay and the shooting of 50 Cent. An excerpt of the affidavit read:
50 Cent spoke negatively about Bad Boy Entertainment mogul Sean Combs and recorded a song, "Hip-Hop", revealing the reasons behind his negative feelings: primarily, a contract dispute over Mase. In the song, he implied that Diddy knew about The Notorious B.I.G.'s murder and threatened to expose him through former associates. The feud was resolved, with both rappers appearing on MTV's TRL and Sucker Free, respectively, stating that there were no longer problems.
On February 1, 2007, Cam'ron and 50 Cent had a live argument on The Angie Martinez Show on Hot 97 radio. 50 Cent commented that Koch Entertainment was a "graveyard", meaning major record labels would not work with their artists. Cam'ron then ridiculed the record sales of G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Mobb Deep by stating that Jim Jones outsold their albums despite being signed to an independent label and that his group, The Diplomats, had a distribution deal from several labels. Both rappers released "diss" songs with videos on YouTube. 50 Cent suggested in "Funeral Music" that Cam'ron is no longer able to lead The Diplomats and that Jim Jones should take his place. Cam'ron responded with "Curtis" and "Curtis Pt. II", in which he makes fun of 50 Cent's appearance, calling him "a gorilla, with rabbit teeth". 50 Cent responded by releasing "Hold On" with Young Buck. He has recently squashed his beef with Jadakiss, Nas, & Cam'ron, but still has beef with Fat Joe.
50 Cent later dismissed The Game from G-Unit on Hot 97 radio. After the announcement, The Game, who was a guest earlier in the evening, attempted to enter the building with his entourage. After being denied entry, one of his associates was shot in the leg during a confrontation with a group of men leaving the building. When the situation escalated, both rappers held a press conference to announce their reconciliation. Fans had mixed feelings as to whether the rappers created a publicity stunt to boost the sales of the albums they had just released. Nevertheless, even after the situation deflated, G-Unit criticized The Game's street credibility. The group denounced The Game and announced that they will not feature on his albums. During a Summer Jam performance, The Game launched a boycott of G-Unit called "G-Unot".
After the Summer Jam performance, The Game released a track, "300 Bars and Runnin'", which addresses 50 Cent and G-Unit. He continued his attacks in a Stop Snitchin, Stop Lyin' DVD. After numerous songs aimed at G-Unit, 50 Cent responded to The Game's rebuttals on mixtapes. One track, "Not Rich, Still Lyin'", imitates The Game, attacks his credibility, and mentions his feud with his brother, Big Fase 100.
The Game also released mixtape covers parodying the group. After he displayed pictures of G-Unit dressed up as the Village People, 50 Cent posted a cover of The Game's head on the body of a male stripper. Although he was signed to Aftermath Entertainment, The Game left the label and signed with Geffen Records to terminate his contractual obligations with G-Unit.
|Get Rich or Die Tryin'||2003|
|Before I Self Destruct||2008|
|2003||50 Cent: The New Breed||—||Documentary DVD|
|2005||"The Simpsons" - Pranksta Rap||Himself||—|
|Get Rich or Die Tryin'||Marcus||Film debut|
|50 Cent: Bulletproof||—||Video game, voice only|
|2006||Home of the Brave||Jamal Aiken||—|
|2009||50 Cent: Blood on the Sand||Himself||Video game, voice only|
|Streets of Blood||Stan Green||Post-production|
|Spectacular Regret||Amos Jenks||Pre-production|
|To be announced||Before I Self Destruct||—||—|
|The Ski Mask Way||Seven||—||Dead Man Running|