Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) plans to Get Rich or Die Tryiní (the title of his new album). In other words, he wants to achieve the American Dream. Yet, America has likely never heard it put quite like he put it before. Then again, no one has ever heard a story like 50ís before. His mother, Sabrina, was a ďhustler.Ē She was murdered before Curtis was 8. He never knew his father. He went to live with his grandparents and was selling drugs before his teen years. ďI started hustling at 12, my mother hustled ahead of me. I was only allowed to because they knew me, ĎOh, thatís Sabrinaís little boy. Let him do something.í In that situation I felt like I had no option.Ē In 1994, he was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, and served three years. Curtis Jackson went in, 50 Cent came out. Read the conversation with the hottest name on the streets Ö
Real Detroit: The release date for Get Rich or Die Tryiní is 2/11 [Editorís note: The release date was actualy moved to February 6.], which is the numerical police code for robbery in progress. Take me back. Tell me about ďHow To Rob.Ē
50 Cent: When I made ďHow To Rob,Ē I was on a major label with Celine Dion, Mark Anthony, Mariah Carey, all of these big stars. I had to make a record that made people ask ďWho is 50 Cent?Ē
RD: Which is exactly what happened. So what went down at Columbia (Records)?
50: Columbia didnít understand 50 Cent; to them, people [like me] only get shot on TV. I was shot three days before I was supposed to shoot my first video (ďThug LoveĒ with Destinyís Child). They freaked out. Major labels would prefer to work with ďstudio gangstas,Ē itís less of a risk.
RD: After you were dropped, you hit the mix-tape circuit. Where did that motivation come from?
50: When I was at Columbia, I would ask questions, find out what peopleís jobs were. If you put me in a hands-on situation, Iím gonna learn real fast. They didnít realize the importance of the black market and mix-tapes, so I used the connections I made, and did what they werenít doing. And I had the worst deal, Ma, for like eight albums.
RD: [Laughs] I guess everything happens for a reason Ö
50: If I didnít get shot, I wouldnít have gotten dropped from ColumbiaÖ
RD: If you hadnít been dropped from Columbia Ö
50: I wouldnít be in the situation Iím in now.
RD: So youíve always had a huge street buzz, sometimes more from controversy than from your music. Do you think that has changed now?
50: Iím glad that the music is doing so well, but thereís still controversy.
RD: What do you think is a common misconception about you?
50: People think Iím crazy. Iím not crazy.
RD: How do you feel about how you are portrayed in the media?
50: Two days ago, I was killed in LA. CNN reported that. What if my grandmother had seen that and had a heart attack? People talk about lyrical content. There is no media responsibility. Movies, the porn industry, it has to be across the board or itís ineffective.
RD: What about the people who do say, or will say, that you glorify violence or drug sales because of your past?
50: People who glorify that lifestyle are total frauds. Yí know? ĎCuz the people who do it feel that they have no choice.
RD: If they could, they would do something better.
50: Right. ďIím a murderer. Where my murderers at?Ē [When artists say things like that, itís] Ďcuz [theyíre] frauds. Iíve been in situations where either it was me or somebody else, and I handled my business. But after that you go through a whole process. You stop thinking about the police finding out what you did. You start thinking about God knowing what just happened. Iíve been in situations that would have you running around with a Bible in your pocket. I just speak on my life.
RD: I feel that. Okay, itís been said that you are the most anticipated artist since Biggie. Is that a lot of pressure?
50: No, not really. The anticipation comes from New York. Theyíve been listening to me for two years now, and itís been consistent, good performances. Now their imagination is saying, ďI wonder what heíll sound like with Dre and EminemĒ being that they are the best producers and rappers in the game. Consistency is the key to all success. If I can consistently deliver a good performance, then they wonít have to wait until they see a bootlegger and buy it for $5, theyíll give up that $16.
RD: The marketing and promotions for the project is like nothing Iíve ever seen before. Are you involved in those decisions?
50: Absolutely, everything you see on the streets. I feel like Iím a marketing person now.
RD: Letís talk about the album, what was your creative control like?
50: I ainít have no boundaries Ö almost. Em never says ďDonít say thatĒ or ďCan you change that?Ē If anything, they are always saying that to him. And Dre, heís got to understand what Iím doing, heís from NWA.
RD: Thereís a lot of diverse production on the album. Dre has five tracks, Em only has two. Why was that important?
50: It was important because I had done so many records previously. Iíve been working on this album the whole time. I would make a mix-tape record, then make a real record. The ones that I felt were the best, I kept Ďem.
RD: What is it like working with Eminem?
50: Iím starting to figure it out. I think that what happened to Em happened so fast that he hasnít even really realized how big he is. Heís still down-to-earth and humble, despite the fact that he can rap circles around the game. Heís so talented sometimes it can become annoying. Plus he canít really toot his own horn, it makes people uneasy; but I can. The boy is No. 1. Weíre alike in a lot of ways, he speaks a lot from his life experience, otherwise you wouldnít know who Kim was. I do the same, itís just a little more gunplay, more life-threatening situations.
RD: I know you always wear a bulletproof vest Ö
50: Yeah, I put it on right after my underwear.
RD: Are you afraid? Afraid to die young, like emcees before you?
50: I get asked that a lot. It seems for some reason that people think Iím gonna die and theyíre gonna live, like forever. To them itís more believable that Iíll die than them, then they get into a car and smash into something. Death is promised to all of us, Ma. Where did ĎPac get killed? That passenger seat. Where did Biggie get killed? That passenger seat. Where did 50 Cent get shot? The backseat, but still in the car, shooters are comfortable shooting in vehicles so Iíve got a bulletproof vehicle. Iím a target, but I donít dwell on it.
RD: How were you impacted by the death of Jam Master Jay?
50: Since I got shot, I donít get worked up about things that are out of my control. I got shot blocks away from where Jay was killed. I get excited about things I can prevent ... [50 quotes ďThe Serenity PrayerĒ] I have to stay focused and keep working.
RD: Youíve survived 9 bullet wounds and were only in the hospital for 13 days, thatís basically a medical miracle. Do you feel like you have a destiny? Are you fulfilling it right now?
50: Yes. I think Iím supposed to do something positive Ö more positive. But anything that changes too fast is no good. The people that listen to me wonít listen if I bring forth too much of a positive message too soon. I mean, my situation, alone, is being a role model. I donít have to say ďRap it upĒ every two seconds, or ďDonít do drugsĒ every two seconds. They know theyíre not supposed to use drugs, and they know theyíre supposed to put a condom on. The fact that I exist is saying thereís always a possibility. Thereís always hope. | RDW
The Get Rich or Die Tryiní Record Release Party is taking place on Sunday, February 9 at the State Theater, hosted by WJLBís Bushman & DJ Green Lantern. Also performing are Web Entertainment artist King Gordy of The Fat Killahz, who appeared in 8 Mile as Big O, a local rap star making it big. Shady Records recording artists D12 and Obie Trice will also open the show. 50 confirmed ďWeíre going to drink Bacardi like itís your birthday.Ē