Curtis Jackson, known as 50 Cent, is one of the world’s popular hip hop rappers and business mogul who jumped on the ladder of success with his 2003 debut album ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin.’ He proved that hip hop is as much a lifestyle as it is a genre of music. For several years in the beginning of his musical career, he was a star in the underground mix-tape circuit but wasn’t known to the rest of the world until 2002, when his first single “Wanksta” appeared on the soundtrack of Eminem’s film, 8 mile.
Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, was born on July 6, 1975, to a drug dealer, Sabrina Jackson, and his father is not known. He grew up in South Jamaica, a neighborhood of Queens (a borough of New York City). It is a neighborhood filled with gangsters and crime. The interesting thing is that it is also the birthplace of many rappers, including the female trio Salt N’ Pepa and LL Cool J.
Sabrina, his mother, was only fifteen years old when she gave birth to Curtis. To support her child, she turned to drug dealing and eventually became one of the most feared drug dealers in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, she was killed by an anonymous person when Curtis was only eight years old – may be the result of a drug war.
Surrounded by violence and crime, 50 Cent was raised by her grandmother, whom he loved very much. However, because her grandma had nine more children to raise, he spent most of his time on streets in the company of bad guys. When Curtis was only twelve years old, he entered deep into the world of drugs and started dealing crack (a harsh form of cocaine that is smoked).
Upon asking the reason why he started doing all that stuff, he answered to Allison Samuels of Newsweek that he wanted to fend for himself without being a burden on his grandmother.
50 Cent was only fifteen when he bought his first gun, and by the time he was nineteen, he was already out of control. He became the neighborhood’s drug kingpin, earning about $150,000 a month. He was dropped out of high school because he was spending most of his time in jail. Jackson has an infamous 1994 mugshot when he pled guilty to drug charges in New York. Meanwhile, he also listened to KRS-1, Rakim, and Run-DMC, and tried writing his own rhymes.
He thought of leaving the world of drugs and begin pursuing a career in music, but he wasn’t sure if he should give it a go. When his son, Marquise, was born, Curtis knew that it is time – time to make a change, so his son doesn’t have to live the life of a drug dealer’s son. Hence, he decided to stop doing all the bad stuff and start making music.
50 Cent was determined that he need to get into the music business and leave all the things he used to do in the past. Seeing his determination for music, his friend introduced him to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC in 1996, who was starting his own music label called “Jam Master Jay Records.” Jay taught him how to write the choirs, count the measures, structure the songs, and make the records.
He officially appeared for the first time in a song “React”, on the album “Shut ‘Em Down” released in 1998. In 1999, after leaving Jam Master Jay, several producers of Trackmasters took notice of the rapper and offered him to sign a contract with Columbia Records. Later, he produced 36 songs in only two weeks in a New York studio. 18 of these 36 songs were also included in his unofficial release album called “The Power of the Dollar”, which was cancelled and never released as he was shot.
He began to become popular after the release of his single “How to Rob”. This was the song that made famous rappers like Jay-Z, Kurupt, Sticky Fingaz, Big Pun, and others take notice of 50 Cent. On the other hand, the rapper Nas invited 50 Cent and asked him to travel on a promotional tour of his album “Nastradamus”.
In spite of having a publishing agreement signed with Columbia Records, he was kicked out from the label and enlisted in the blacklist of the recording industry – because of his song “Ghetto Qu ‘Ran’” (Quran of the Ghetto). Due to being blacklisted, he wasn’t able to find any studio in the USA that let him record a song. So he traveled all the way to Canada along with his manager Sha Money XL, where he recorded more than thirty songs for mixtapes.
After the release of these songs, 50 Cent’s recognition started to increase little by little, and in 2002, he released the compilation album “Guess Who’s Back?”
The rapper Eminem took notice of his album in around 2002, which impressed him so much that he decided to invite him to LA, where he was also introduced to Dr. Dre. Eminem offered 50 Cent to sign a contract with Shady Records and Aftermath Entertainment by Dr. Dre. That contract led him to release a mixtape “No Mercy, No Fear” that included the popular track “Wanksta”, which was also used in the soundtrack of the Eminem’s film, “8 Mile”.
In February of 2003, 50 Cent released his debut album “Get Rich or Die Tryin” that helped him climb the ladder of success. The album was such a hit that Allmusic described it as one of the best debut albums produced by a rap artist in a decade. The album managed to sell more than 872,000 copies in the first four days and secured its number 1 position in the Billboard 200.
The main song of this album “In Da Club” was played the most and managed to reach position number 18 out of 100 best hip songs of all time of VH1. During this time, 50 Cent also broke the Billboard record as the most listened song in radio history in a week.
In March of 2005, he released another hit album “The Massacre” that was able to sell over 1.1 million copies in the first four days of the release. With the release and success of this album, 50 Cent reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 and secured this position for six weeks. He also became the first-ever artist to have his three singles in the top 5 of Billboard in the same week. The singles were “Candy Shop”, “Inferno Disc”, and “How We Do.”
He was sentenced to two years of probation on July 22, 2005, due to an incident that happened in May 2004, on charges of three counts of assault and aggression. This didn’t stop him, and he released his third studio album titled “Curtis” in around September of 2007. After selling more than 691,000 copies in the first week, this third album of 50 Cent, was in the number 2 position of the Billboard 200.
On May 18, 2009, 50 Cent released a song titled “Ok, You’re Right”, produced by Dr. Dre. This song was included as the first official single in the album “Before I Self Destruct”.
On November 16, 2011, 50 Cent released another song “Outlaw” on the internet, produced by Cardiak. On February 20, 2014, he left Interscope Records, Aftermath Entertainment, and Shady Records, after an alliance that lasted about 12 years.
50 Cent and his label G-Unit Records signed a distribution agreement with Caroline Records and a recording contract with Capitol Records to release his fifth studio album titled “Animal Ambition” in 2014.
50 Cent has two sons, Marquise and Sire, with two different mothers.
Following in the footsteps of the Hip Hop stars and moguls Eminem and Dr. Dre, 50 Cent also expanded his brand into other markets to boost his business. He promoted and invested in Vitaminwater, which reportedly netted him $100 million when the company was sold to Coca Cola in the year 2007. He also founded the successful headphones company named SMS Audio in 2011 and acquired Kono Audio the same year.
- 50 Cent signed a 5-year contract with the sports brand Reebok in November 2003, to distribute G-Unit sneakers, which is his personal brand of the line as part of his G-Unit Clothing Company.
- In 2003, he released the video game, including 50 Cent: Bulletproof for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PSP.
- In 2005, 50 Cent made a cameo in the episode “Pranksta Rap” of The Simpsons in which his legal problems were shown.
- In 2005, he starred with Terrence Howard the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
- 50 Cent published an autobiography titled “From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens,” in August 2005 that showed the economic and cultural forces that led him to sell crack and cocaine.
- In 2007, he founded the film production company G-Unit Films and Cheetah Vision in 2008.
- In 2007, he launched his G-Unit Books print shop in the Time Warner building.
- In 2009, he published his first book, The 50th Law.
- In 2011, he founded SMS Audio in Delaware and acquired Kono Audio.
Power of the Dollar (2000)
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)
Beg for Mercy (2003)
The Massacre (2005)
T·O·S (Terminate on Sight) (2008)
Before I Self Destruct (2009)
Animal Ambition (2014)
The Beauty of Independence (2014)
The Beast Is G-Unit (2015)