| Part 5 :
It's only one more year until the new millennium comes. The king of New York rap, Notorious B.I.G., was killed in 1997, and in 1998 Jay-Z took the crown and had DMX right on his heels. East Coast hip-hop doesn't stop with those two, however — it is rich with new talent such as Cam'ron, Big Pun, the LOX, Wu-Tang and Redman, who are either just coming on the scene or in their prime. In 1999 Boo-Boo has put crack behind him — for now — and adopted the moniker 50 Cent. In the ultimate chess move, he would leapfrog from the "who's that?" list to the "who's who" list. All he needed was one song to do it with. After sitting on a major label's bench for eight months, 50 took his destiny into his own hands and released a song to the mixtape circuit called "How to Rob." There he would target everyone from Missy Elliott to Bobby Brown, fictitiously rapping about sticking them up. The people who got it the worst on the track were some of the kings of rap. With almost all the big names in the industry having an issue with him, why was 50 so elated to be dissed? This excerpt tells it all.
T he Track Masters put me on hold for eight months. During that time, they transferred my contract to Columbia, the major label they were on, and I really got lost in the shuffle. That's when I got the idea to do "How to Rob." It wasn't a difficult song to write. I wrote it in about thirty minutes because it was what I was really feeling at the time. I was sitting back, broke, and watching all these MCs shine and show off their jewelry and cars. I was sitting back, thinking, I wish I could have that chain. And then I realized that I could have that chain if he comes to the 'hood and he ain't paying attention. The song just came out from there.
I knew that if I didn't make a record that made people ask, "Who is 50 Cent?" then I was wasting my time — the label wasn't going to do it for me. I had to make the kind of record that would make the entire music business say, "Who the f--- is this guy?" So I made the record, saying the name of everybody I wanted to rob. At that point, I was the only rapper who could have made "How to Rob," because I didn't have relationships with any of the MCs to the point where I'd have to get on the phone and explain myself. I wasn't calling anyone, because if I called one person, then I would have to call every single person on the record and clear it with them. I was like, It is what it is and if you got a problem with it, we can do whatever you want to do.
|I got tired of the song real quick, but it really made its mark. Everybody who was somebody in the game had something to say about me. I saw that I was making my mark aggressively enough by the way people were acknowledging me immediately — not six months from the song, but right when the song came out. There were guys out with hit records no one was paying attention to. But all the top dogs had an issue with me, and I didn't even have an album out. The response to me helped put me in the game. The more they reacted, the bigger my name got. I couldn't pay for that kind of publicity — and my record label sure as hell wasn't going to.
I loved the guys who had something to say about me on a record. Big Pun, DMX, the Wu-Tang Clan. The best was Jay-Z when he responded at SummerJam. I saw him backstage and he said, "You know I'm about to go in on you, right?" I was like, What the f--- is he talking about? When he was performing, he stood in front of all of New York and dissed me: "I'm about a dollar, what the f--- is 50 Cent?" The next day I was on the radio station talking about the dis. A while later, I ran into Jay-Z at P. Diddy's restaurant, Justin's, and thanked him. He laughed at me. It probably tripped him out that I understood what was going on. I was thinking businesswise. I didn't give a f--- what he was saying. Say whatever you want, Mother----er. Just say my name. That's all I need.