Monday, March 30, 2009

50 Cent Is Not A Rapper

I first heard about the rapper 50 Cent back in 1999, when my dude and former client Deric "D-Dot Angelettie, p/k/a The Madd Rapper produced and was featured on 50's 1st single "How To Rob". "How To Rob" was that perfect single for a rapper trying to get noticed in a market then flooded by Hip Hop superstars. On the debut single, 50 jokingly rapped about robbing several rap stars and entertainers from a hungry rapper's perspective. Deric's Madd Rapper ad-libs added to that desperate "I gotta get mine from these industry cats" vibe, egging 50 on from the background. The single also had legs on the radio, at least here in New York. Unfortunately some rappers named in "How To Rob" took offense, I guess they didn't find it as funny as the fans did. Some even responded with shots at the new rapper. Regardless, it was clear that the new rapper called 50 Cent had a shot at making a name for himself.

The next time I heard about 50 was in March of 2000. I received a call from one of my clients who was hired to produce a track for 5o in connection with his first album "Power Of The Dollar". That March, he and some members of his production team were in the famed Hit Factory recording studios with 50 Cent, in one of the smaller rooms. The Hit Factory was a enormous studio with state of the art equipment and many recording rooms, some large enough to fit an entire orchestra. On this particular evening, 50's rivals, members of the famed Murder Inc. were also booked in The Hit Factory, in a different room. 50's beef with Murder Inc. had been going on for some time, particularly with Ja Rule. Apparently, some members of the Inc. had peeped 50 in the building and decided they would roll up in his session and ride on who ever was present. Right in the middle of recording, 50's session was interrupted by what seemed like at least more than 5 crew members of the Inc. As the goons rushed the room, they decided to cut off the lights in an attempt to further "shock and awe" 50 and his companions. Shit got real hectic with the producers and 50 going for theirs in defense against their attackers. When it was over, 50 Cent the rapper realized that his beef with Murder Inc. had just escalated to a whole new level. Niggas was really coming for him, and not just on wax.

The third time I heard about 50 Cent was on May 24, 2000, when he was shot nine times and left for dead, lying in a pool of his own blood. The shooting was allegedly in connection with 50's beef with the Inc. Miraculously, Curtis James Jackson, III survived the shooting. In one fell swoop, he beat out Tupac Shakur in legendary street cred status, 'Pac having survived getting hit with "only" 5 bullets. All this and with only one single recorded. Still, even though Curtis Jackson survived that shooting it seemed that the rapper who was 50 Cent was killed or at least his career was. Severely wounded and now without a deal, 50 Cent the rapper was left to die.

Two years later, after the industry and fans alike had ample opportunity to forget about him, 50 dropped the mixtape "Guess Whose Back?" Having been blacklisted by most record execs, unable to find a studio that would allow him to record, 50 was forced to travel to Canada in order to compile "Guess Whose Back". Shit was unlike any mixtape ever heard. Containing some tracks intended for his unreleased "Power Of The Dollar" album for Columbia, along with some new tracks aimed at his foes connected with the Inc., the cd played like a concept album. In addition, the rumor was that the jewelry piece 50 was brazenly showcasing on the album cover, wrapped around his gun was actually a piece that once belonged to Ja Rule. The story was that 50 and Ja had gotten into a scuffle and the scuffle ended with 50 walking away with Ja's chain and diamond studded cross. Regardless if said story was fact or fiction, 50's buzz hit like a bomb. Industry cats once again started talking about the mixtape, about how hot 50 was. Kniccas in the streets and in the barber shops were also talking.

Dino, my boy who was an A&R at Universal and was the dude responsible for signing the Cash Money Millionaires had seen the opportunity and was the first exec willing to stick his neck out to sign 50. Dino wanted to lock 50 down with the quickness and 50 needed a lawyer so he called me, asked me if I was interested in meeting 50, or if I was scared, shook like a lot of our fellow industry colleagues on account of 50's beef. I told Dino I wouldn't mind working with 50, especially since the mixtape was fuego. Dino knew that if hired by 50, I would make the deal happen unlike some other attorneys who had a rep for drawing deals out, making things difficult for all parties involved. Fifty called me shortly after. We arranged a meeting to break bread and discuss whether we could establish a working relationship. On the day of our meeting 50 showed up promptly to my office. Most rappers feel that showing up late for meetings must be some kind of cool. Even though he had "taken some time off" to heal and recuperate, niggas was still out in the streets gunning for him. Because of that, he was rocking a fresh bullet proof vest, accompanied by his manager Sha Money XL and one other dude who mos def looked like he was a shooter. Me and one of my law partners sat down with 50 and we began to build.

Curtis was incredibly focused. Perhaps the most focused person I had ever met during my time on this planet. Calmly, the man spoke with incredible clarity as to his immediate and future plans, how he was going to get his family out the hood, how he would put together an album that wouldn't just shock the world but would also make him very rich. How with his newfound wealth, he would put himself in a position of power and build an army to take care of all his rivals who placed him in his current position, a position of having to move quietly, carefully, of having to constantly watch his back. With very little emotion, but with the charisma of a star, Mr. Jackson explained how in a short period of time, the tables would be turned and how he would be sitting on top of an empire that would extend far beyond any record deal. No bravado, none of that "nah'mean" swagger lingo that so many rappers brandish when inflating their infantile images to the public, just methodical well thought out step by step plans that would ensure the success of his goals. Curtis conducted the entire meeting looking both me and my partner dead in our eyes, but it was apparent to me that he was looking through us, beyond the here and now.

Dude saw the future, not just the end result, but every effin brick he would have to lay in order to transform his visions, his dreams into reality. Curtis was also very forthcoming about a possible deal with Eminem, with Dr. Dre, Shady, Aftermath and Interscope. Told me that Em's people, including Em's lawyer reached out to him. Curtis was extremely respectful in taking the time to meet with me, respectful in maintaining a good relationship with Dino but explained that he might not take the Universal deal on account of how it wasn't in his benefit to replay the role of a solo artist left out in the cold to defend himself against his enemies who were Goliath like in stature. How Em and Dre might just could put him in a position of power and how he most likely would rock with Em's lawyer. We concluded the meeting. After Curtis Jackson, Sha and their shooter left the building, me and my partner were quiet, in awe at the meeting that had just taken place. We knew immediately, that whatever endeavor he set out to accomplish, Curtis Jackson would be incredibly successful. I also realized, at that moment, that two years earlier, on May 24, 2000, the rapper who was 50 Cent was shot nine times, died while lying in a pool of his own blood. What was left in place of the slain rapper was a man reborn with the intimate knowledge of the relationship between life and death, who knew first hand the meaning of war, of strategy, of alliances, of power and how he would claim his power. It was also evident that once 50 claimed the power he so desperately needed, he would never relinquish an inch of it.

Six years after the release of his first album"Get Rich Or Die Tryin'", 50 Cent continues to remain relevant, remains in full control of his power. He also continues to manipulate the media and the masses to believe only what he wants them to believe. That thing with Kanye and their album beef? So clear that 50 was playing with us all. The jabs at Diddy, at Wayne, at damn near anyone that might could even resemble a future threat, just pawn moves in his ever evolving chess game with the world. Recently, I've been most entertained with his relentless and ruthless public flogging of the former CO turned rapper Rick Ross. I'm also amused when people complain about how he no longer releases quality music, how all his posturing and beefs have all but destroyed his career as a rapper, how his endeavors in acting and in video games have cheapened his street cred, how his vast amount of public beefs have killed his record career. I'm so amazed at how the man Curtis Jackson p/k/a 50 Cent continues to pull the wool over so many people's eyes so concerned about him as a rapper. True he can go back into his past life and pull out rhymes, songs and even albums, but 5o Cent is many many things, a rapper he is not. I keep wondering when all these other rappers will realize that 5o Cent the rapper left the building years ago, so many years in fact that no matter how prolific and masterful they are with their word play, their rap battles exist on an entirely different plane, a completely different playing field than 50's, and as these rappers continue to swing at shadows while 50 lands critical blows from afar, in an arena much broader and far more complex I'm asking myself, "why did these niggas do it to themselves?"

And as long as he continues to be everything but a rapper, I will continue to enjoy the ever continuing saga that is the 50 Cent show. 50 Cent the rapper is dead, long live 50 Cent, the world's smartest entertainer.


  1. Hating on 50 cent is all the rage these days. Niggas just dont get it, 50 is that dude. I dont care for his music as much anymore, but its hard not to root for 50 in all situations.

  2. Your writing is the best thing online. Keep doing your thing.

  3. This is the best write up/summation on Fifty in a long time...possibly ever.
    "And as long as he continues to be everything but a rapper, I will continue to enjoy the ever continuing saga that is the 50 Cent show. 50 Cent the rapper is dead, long live 50 Cent, the world's smartest entertainer"

  4. So if he is not a rapper why is he still trying to rap ? It's a waste of time.

  5. ohhh THAT'S why i like everything he does except his music! it's all clear now.....

  6. this was well written and gives me a lot of insight that i previously had mulled over regarding 50 but you put it in writing. good shit. and to annon who said if hes not a rapper why rap? i get that, i miss rappers who seemed like they actually care for the art form, but it is proven to us everyday that the majority of the coonery outside of the rap that we love is what sells and this industry is just that, an industry, here to make MONEY.

    I am young (26), shit not that young seeing as how i am knocking on 30 and will concede to say that my knowledge of this culture cannot nearly touch Combat Jacks but i love this and i understand some acts and others i dont. I love it when cats come along that have a knack and love for rap, do it well, and can entertain. Others, from either coast and the south included are garbage ass ring tone rappers who are just tryin to get out of the projects. I respect that too but i hate how people latch onto it because it sells or is catchy and calls it the "new" hip hop.

    I digress, I fux with 50, he is plain and simple, an entertainer. I never thought he was a great rapper, but i like what he does, bully or not.

    ps that pimpin curly shit is classic lol

  7. Gotta agree with the post above, your writing is some of the best shit related to hip hop I've ever read.

  8. Great article. This is a really nice summary of 50 Cent's rise to stardom. I would never expect a lawyer to write like this.

  9. 50 gets it, most people don't. It's just unfortunate they don't. At the end of the day, it is all black and white. You are either getting money or not, none of that "for the love" shit works. It's just an excuse broke rappers give.

  10. You killed it again CJ. I also want to put together an army to crush my enemies while I look at my balances of my accounts and smile. 50 is one of the best rags to riches stories out there. I agree with the other people above the music has fallen off but your post proves the music doesnt matter to him or measure his success because he has already won by beating his enemies and putting his son in a great place financially.

  11. I enjoy your insider perspective, it's concise and witty.

    But the fact that 50 is a crafty entertainer and a cunning businessman isnt news. Nor is someone excusing his raping of the genre because he's gettin money.

    I'm so tired of niggaz applauding every fucking thing thats profitable. Hip Hop is so damn establishment now its bananas. I respect Fif's resilience and drive, but at what cost?

    No shots at u tho, CJ, like i said your posts are brilliant. But I disagree with you. The sad truth is, 50 Cent IS a rapper

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  13. noice piece..

    summarized Curtis in a slightly overgrown nutshell


  14. I have to say I was an early adopter for Curtis when he dropped "Get Rich" I admired this dude's moxie and his him against the world drive to succeed in the music biz. It was a more disciplined takeover charge, a huge difference from the raucous spiral of Tupac's last year in the physical. I caught a lot of grief from my crew for championing the album but I rocked with it. Then something changed with me and Curtis, and it stuck with me and tainted old boy for me. I didn't appreciate his very public feud with The Older God, and I felt that should have stayed off of wax and out of the press. If that was some pre-music street beef it should have been handled as such, but I felt it was a "Street Cred" push for a dude who already had enough of that, with some to spare - especially for rap listeners and suburbanite buyers. I thought this was out of line because where one man is using it (and the subject material) to sell records, the other man is fighting a capital sentence and very real consequences that come with that life that kids love to rap about. When dude cackled on air that a life sentence came down, I thought that this isn't laughing about ending a rap career but end of one's physical freedom. With all that said I don't know the internal intricacies of that whole dynamic but from the outside in it seemed foul.

    With all that said I have to give props to this drop CJ because it gives another angle to someone who a very complex and intelligent man, who has gained my respect whether I like him or not. Plus like many I'm enjoying the shit out of this "beef" with Ross. He's totally dismantling dude. Way more fun and entertaining than his entree into the biz tormenting ole Jeffery...

  15. That was an amazing read. Too many people are blinded by the shine of guns and diamonds to even see what you've seen and the truth you have written.

  16. This is a great post. Not only do you offer information that the average person is not privvy to, but you also bring an unique and intelligent perspective. I also really apprecaite the way you sum everything up in terms of business because that's what all this stuff really is.
    Much respect, I look forward to all of your future posts.

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  18. ^ benhameen, so sorry we couldn't connect when I was down in DC this past weekend. Thanks for the solid Friday nite. Next time my dude. Much respect to Washington DC!

  19. Great drop,
    I usually enjoy 50's interviews because I think he is one of the most clear and articulate rappers in the game.

    While rapping may be an after thought for him because it does not bring in as much dollars as his other ventures, I think he still works on putting out a solid product. Sure, he dropped some garbage here and there, but who hasn't. I may be naive, but I think he still cares about the product that he puts out and tries to craft some good ish.

    . . . he took beefing to a whole new level in the digital age. Before Cam left to take care of his personal matters, their back and forth videos were entertaining!

  20. i agree with Vee. I definitely think 50 Cent is still concerned with putting out a quality product. The Curtis album wasn't particularly good, but listening to it you can tell he is still trying to write good songs. The only problem is some of his song ideas and concepts have become a little stale and repetitive.

    But strictly from a songwriting perspective, he is one of the best that has ever done it. Lyrically, he's pretty good too, in my opinion.

    I feel like some of you people are just haters: the way y'all sound, 50's lyrics are on par with Lil Boosie or some shit. I'm not saying 50 is one of the best lyrically, but c'mon...

    When i judge a rapper I try to put shit in perspective based on their talent. Based on his early material, 50 Cent is very talented lyricist. Does he always put that talent to good use in crafting songs? Obviously, no. But the same thing can be said about many other talented lyricists such as T.I., Jay-Z, and even Eminem.

  21. but not always putting that talent to use in crafting songs doesn't make him a garbage mc, it just means he's doing shitty songs...

  22. Love. Man, you got a good head on your shoulders. Being successful doesn't necessarily have all to do with your craft. 50 is about a brand, a brand that has an image of power and success. Who duh fuhk doesn't want that, to a certain extent? Even if you dont want money whips n' btchz maybe you want success in school or strength, physically and/or mentally, 50 is a master of relating to almost everyone who wants something...

  23. Your attitude is highly disturbing. So rapping was just a way to get green? How praiseworthy. So he's a businessman,out to get "his" is he? shrewdly calculating, looking for the most profitable angle- Splendid! Let's celebrate the dilution of our music by corporate swill merchants. Woohoo. Oh 50 is not a rapper? Goddamn he had me fooled i'll tell you that. You scamp you! Way to rape the fans. Because you see, when fans buy his music they don't buy it because they think "He got his", they actually buy it for the music... you know... expression ... He and others like him are turning what was once vital and legitimate (yes even in the 90's) into a one dimensional train wreck and you think as long as they are "making it" or whatever it is a fair trade? I think thats the most contemptible thing i've encountered in a while and i watched Leno last night.

    I often find that rap fans in general put commercial viability over artistic relevance - i wonder why this is. Especially as an artist that's seen to be a money grubbing whore is usually not successful in the long run as music goes anyway and thats a lost revenue stream so it makes little financial sense too.

  24. He's an entertainer? Someone who was once almost relevant and actually put out a good album now dons wigs and makes a fool of himself to get attention. You find that entertaining? not sad? or pathetic? Heck Britney Spears must be the greatest entertainer that ever lived!!

    Isn't it obvious even to someone as star struck as you seem to be that 50's antics smack of desperation? Less and less people care believe me i've seen this happening gradually in real time, most people i knew who had both his first and second albums didn't even check out his third. Check out the drastic drop in his album sales. He's gone to... no, REDUCED to cheap attention grabbing stunts and you find that entertaining?

    What is slightly annoying though is that insidious implication that all these stunts are part of a grand world conquering plan. Please , that BS.These are the actions of a rat on a quickly crumbling piece of cheese. He is no fool yes- so he must be aware of his fast fading popularity. I hardly believe that if all was well he would be reducing himself to a parody of the self described dude who old OG's looked at as the dude the used to be.

  25. So true! The 50 Cent from "Guess Who's Back" is the rapper version that I was (and still kind of am) a huge fan of...Nobody has smacked the rap game around like Curtis did in the early 2000's. However, that 50 Cent is long gone...We are witnessing an incredible business man. One who recently sold Vitamin Water to Coca-Cola for $400 million.

    Don't hate!

  26. Finally somebody that really sees how 50 is and was. He can do everything.
    I loved his early work and mistapes: Guess Who's Back, Gods Plan, No Mercy No fear, and such.
    People keep hating on him, it doesn't change my opinion of him. He overcame a lot.

  27. to the person above,its people like you that the author was talking to,since you don't understand the videos with the wigs-let me explain it to you.

    rapper rick ross a.k.a officer ross called 50 "curly" as some type of insult,50 took that and created a pimp character out of it "pimpin' curly" made people laugh and got more hits for his website.50 completely turned it around on rickys fat you understand better now?

  28. damn! you reinforce what i always believed!

    i once saw an interview of fiddy sayin something like "before i got shot, i was really doin music for the love of it.."
    i mean, he - sometimes - spoke his mind, frankly
    the part of rapper 50 had in him died the day he got shot, and left place to the curent 50. he then got exclusivly focused on getting money, or power, or success or whatever you call it
    as if he suddenly realized life aint a game, things got to get done, now
    like you said, in better worlds..

    power of the dollar is one of my classics, i think that if it had been released, rap would be different today

    anyway, 50 is a legend, for what he went through, for gettin executed and coming back standing like never before, for all he built from nothing
    the mass can't recognize it because we're part of the process, in every interaction we got in our lifes with 50 cent, he's using us to comfort his position
    in "hustler", 1999, he rapped : "if i ain't rich by 26, i'll be dead or in jail" he came close to dying, then he made it
    i wonder how people would feel about 50 in ten years if he died now

    sorry for my english

  29. Great post, this blog gotta be the best hip hop site on the net. went back and read the whole archive an the stuff on byrons site.

  30. Well my brother CJ you definitely hit the nail on the head. I can honestly say that his whole persona changed from seeing him in Greene C.F. to seeing him on the Ave (Jamacia) to seeing homie in Far Rockaway, Edgemere (w/ youngwise, Ron-Love R.I.P., and of course Baja(also in Greene C.F.) via Yayo and then in BK on Lexington (real dudes know). I mean the whole situation changed dude, and it's relevant to his whole being. His critical thinking applied to making dudes die breathing theory; Hov said it, but 50 executes that ish. Gis would've been Whoo Kid in a sense, he was riding all the way to until that day (good friends w/ my dude Yah). I know 50 invited him to Miami right after that, and homie declined.

    I mean even way back when Chaz had 50 in Atlanta and he squared up with Jah and basically UFC'd his ass. Dude was so real, I mean everyone he went with flipped basically. Homie only had a screwdriver at the time! His enemies have soon thereafter became his footstool.

    Kind of crazy, the real 50Cent (RIP) was murdered by someone close. Now, Murder
    (RIP)got pita rolled by 50Cent. Karma and some straight thuggery..

  31. Apparently he wasn't actually "SHOT" 9 times, he was "SHOT AT" 9 times. Only 2 or 3 hit him. Or so I've read.

  32. get off his dick

  33. Great drop as usual, CJ. I don't know about you, but I still think it was too bad that 50 and Cam'ron really didn't have a chance to get into a serious battle. It was a perfect match because they both smart people who seem to enjoy reveling in ignorance. I think it could have been billed as the the battle to determine once and for all who is the king of "The Smart Dumb Jigs"

  34. I'm not even going to bother attacking your faulty premise, I just wanna SMH at everyone who thinks this was great writing. Have you ever read any other article ever?

  35. At the end of the day its night, and Rick Ro$$ is dropping his album as scheduled.

    I've been entertained by 50 and I will enjoy the Ro$$ album's bangers as I travel this summer.

    I do give credit to 50 for his focus on his career and playing the angles to move ahead but his legend (and wallet) need more hit albums and less straight to DVD movies

  36. my new favorite blogger...

  37. Okay, so 50 Cent is a smart business man. I will give him that. As far as music though, he will not go down as one of the greats. That is where his anger comes from. You actually think that it is a good thing that 50 target's people? Wooow!! I Agree with Dallas, it takes more than Beef and Money to be a legend. Hammer (3 multiplatinum CDs) and Vanilla Ice made money, but are they respected as legends? No! It takes skills to be a legend, not money. This is not hate, but facts.

  38. ^ Hammer is now respected as a legend. Please check your facts.

  39. That's the problem when standards get lowered, now Hammer is considered a legend?! 1st album was cool,I liked Oaktown's 3-5-7, but as soon he got a taste, he went all minstrel show on us. He even turned his back, saying he wasn't a rapper, but an "entertainer".

    Great post on 50, I put him in the Diddy/ Jermaine Dupri/ Hammer/ Master P category= great businessman and not much else. Musicwise, the only thing they all did was lower the bar musically.

  40. New 50 FAN SITE
    Hi guys,
    I found this 50 fan site good..... have your say there!

  41. Great article!!!!

    ya i agree 50 has a beautiful voice and specially i like his music he is a real rock star....

  42. Mc Hammer considered a legend? By WHO. Please. Every aspect of MC Hammer's persona has been ridiculed to death. He has and never had ANY artistic credibility to EVER even be considered a legend.

    I cannot believe someone just included MC Hammer in the category of "Great Businessman". Are people losing their brain cells or something? Great businessmen don't waste away their fortune in a few years and end up filing for bankruptcy.

    Please call MC Hammer for who he is- a ghetto talentless hack who stumbled upon success riding on another artist's genius with a gimmick that quickly got old... Don't let nostalgia cloud your mind brother, Mc Hammer was a profound embarrassment whose name is now synonymous with artistic bankruptcy and rank failure.

  43. Album: Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
    Track: Patiently waiting ft. Eminem

    "I'm down to sell records but/ not my soul/ Snoope said it in '94/ "We don't love them hoes" "

  44. 50 is the perfect example of the American Dream.