Now Get Rich or Die Tryin’ has become kind of like your slogan. It was the title of your first album, and it is the title of your movie. I am wondering if you think that that is really what life is all about -- trying to get rich at all costs. Do you think that is a positive message to send to the youth?
You know what I think? When you say Get Rich or Die Tryin’ according to your perception of the person who is saying that is going to change what the actual statement means. If you are a real person and a positive person and they say they are going to get rich or die trying you are going to automatically assume this person is determined. See what I am saying?
But if your perception of the person is negative then you think it is literally get rich or die trying. For me the message that you are trying to send on an artist’s level I think that you sit and base everything and every decision that you are making based on what someone else is going to appreciate. I wrote the title of that album and the actual album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ based on the mood of the things that were going on around me. The actual album is a reflection of the environment that I have worked in. So it is aggressive. Because I sold 11 million records with it and the masses recognize…associate Get Rich or Die Tryin’ with 50 Cent I titled my film after it.
For every one person who purchased my album, my solo album, there was one person who stole it, or downloaded it or however else they can get it and there are probably two other people who enjoyed some of the music while it was playing that didn’t bother to buy it. So I mean I probably generated the interest of 44 million people. So if you make reference to that name it makes perfect sense.
What was it like to work with Jim Sheridan? Did you find it an interesting experience?
Jim was great. Before I had gone into the film Get Rich or Die Tryin’ I sat back and I watched In America and I watched his other films prior, My Left Foot. I was excited about working with him. He was cool. I don’t know if he had prepared to meet me or this was his true character because (inaudible)…consistent the entire time.
But the impression I got from him in the beginning is we hang out right now. He is different…his lifestyle…when you look at him he is from Dublin. So life in Dublin is far different from South Jamaica, Queens but it is parallel in the actual behaviors and the mood of thing. So he was able to capture it on film and I am very proud of Get Rich or Die Tryin’. I got a chance to work with the likes of Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant, Bill Duke, Omar Miller and Tory Kittles to name a few. It was a big learning experience for me.
I was wondering was it a big transition for you going from making music videos to making a real movie?
Absolutely. You know when you make a music video you spend a lot of time performing directly into the camera. On film you never are supposed to look at the camera unless it is one of those films where you are actually talking to the audience. It was a transition; it was something for me to actually get used to. Like they give you a mark where there’s not even a person there for you to deliver your line to, you know? You are supposed to respond as far as expressions and everything else naturally like you were talking to somebody.
So it was definitely different from everything I have experienced in music videos. Even though some of the music will have like a theme or a platform where you are doing a little acting.
How do you stay in character? How does the performance of something where you have to do it over and over again differ from being on stage or on a music video where it is much more like spontaneous in the moment?
For me having it be my first movie I was focused on a doing a good job. The success that I have had with music and everything else you see a lot of successful musicians making films and not be successful creating a good film. So I went there with that pressure on my mind so I stayed focused during each one of the shots because I wanted to make sure I was giving the best possible performance. Overall I think the transition from music to film is an easier transition than it would be for an actor to make the transition to music.
Yes, that is because you become typecast by the music people. They decide who you are based on your hits. For me it hasn’t even been my records. It has been more about what journalists and other media outlets have reported about me.
Is that accurate? Has the reporting been…
I mean some of it is accurate. Other stuff they just fabricated to sell…to generate the interest of the public. They just throw it out there. So they have to give you a test of the realness before they do something fake so you can believe it.
The real is in this movie?
Yes. Do you know what it is that sells? I will give you an example. I get shot in the film, right? But I am not in the car; I got shot in the car. My grandmother calls me while I am actually getting shot. My grandmother did not call me or I did not hear her call me but she was in my front yard. So the experience is different but it still sets the mood of what actually took place.
I was wondering because this movie is sort of autobiographical what was it like to replay some of the scenes especially some tougher times in your life?
It is loosely based but there were points where I had to make reference to situations I had really been through in order to accurately portray my character on the screen. It is therapeutic at some point.
Was it rough for you?
One particular scene…because people always point to me getting shot again -- that experience. But that did not bother me as much because we changed it a little bit. You know what I mean? The actual scene that was kind of eerie for me was the operating scene. In other words I was on the operating table and it took us about eight hours to get the small portion that we use in the film. I had prosthetics, makeup and all this stuff on me so I couldn’t really move. So when it was like “Cut” I could open my eyes…all you do is open your eyes and see the operating room.
I spent those eight hours with actors over me delivering dialogue doing good jobs and acting like surgeons. So for me I had been in the actual place before but I had been unconscious. It was a whole (inaudible)… When I got up from that particular scene when it was done and we wrapped up I kind of did not want to really talk to people and run around playing and stuff like that. I went straight back to my trailer and relaxed.
I saw that Terrence Howard has like a small role in your movie. I just wanted to know if you saw Hustle & Flow and what you thought of it and how your movie is going to compare to that?
I saw Hustle & Flow. I think Terrence is great. He is showing you once again you don’t have to win to fight with a knockout. You can always be a combination with a performance and Crash and performance in Hustle & Flow. Definitely this one when they see it they are really going to enjoy it. He’s a great actor and I just think that Terrence has to be conscious of himself because he doesn’t make mistakes like (inaudible) when we talk to each other on the set. He’s a special kind of person.
I was wondering…I know a lot of rappers that when they eventually make the transition to selling a lot of albums they have to worry about their street cred so is that transition even harder than when you go into a film? Do you still worry about your image on the streets?
No. I am moving forward. As far as street cred I think the more successful you are the less street you are. They say since I sold so many records they say I am pop. Pop is short for popular. But the content of the music is still a representation of the environment that I come from.
That element gives me…like right now there are people air on Channel 7 news and see them protesting saying that do you think this is the message we should be sending our kids and to have a gun on the advertisements for the film? They say do you think this is promoting violence? But we know how often they utilize guns as marketing tools to sell (inaudible). If not, all we have to do is walk into our local Blockbuster or video store that rents tapes and get a look because it is all over the place.
They are pointing at me at this point because there are certain standards placed on music as an art form that aren’t applied to any other forms of entertainment. Because I am coming from music they felt like it is promoting violence directly. I am adjusting to it. When you become successful and you are in the public eye you become public property so you are subjected to all kinds of things.
Right. Does that get frustrating?
Well, you have to accept it. You have to learn how to take it for what it is. This is definitely going to happen so there is no reason for me to get worked up or upset about it. Or how about this? How about the same people on the Channel 7 news wouldn’t allow me to call them to promote my film but because they say that, they will promote that I am promoting violence. It does work as a benefit to marketing of the actual film because they hate it but it still works.
What responsibility do you think brothers and sisters have to talk outside of rap and outside of …how Kanye said George Bush doesn’t care for Black people. What kind of responsibility do you think you have to talk about stuff like that?
I think it is your responsibility to talk about it once you are actually in the media…people listen to you. But I think everything happens in time. When you remove yourself away from an environment that you actually come from mentally…I mean people move out of the ghetto as soon as they get enough money to move. You know what I mean? But when your mind frame switches and you no longer hold on to any morals and anything that you were brought up from that you are becoming a whole different person. Anything that changes too fast is no good. You relax and fall back into your old ways as it is not a gradual process.
Now for me I feel like if you were to say positive things like as far as…when people call you at press conferences and different things if you are going to say positive things, let everything else that you do coincide with that.
Everything in your life and your actions?
Yes. Give them a reference to why this works. Some people are inspired by me and some people dislike me and I will tell you why. It’s simple. When you are from the bottom these are the two choices they have to feel about you becoming successful. They either are going to be inspired by the situation or they are going to envy it because it is not them.
I am from where they are from right now. Do you see what I am saying? So I look at the situation and when I speak it is a constant tug of war with me because I like to say things that are a little more positive to people at some point. But then I am not going to stand (inaudible) 100% because tomorrow I will be frustrated with the things people are saying and say something else. The confusion of having the general public not be sure who you are at the moment could mean you are longer being successful.