.Biography: 50 Cent
Born Curtis James Jackson III on July 6, 1975, and raised in Southside Jamaica, Queens, New York City, 50 Cent grew up in a broken home. His hustler mother passed away when he was only eight, and his father departed soon after, leaving his grandmother to parent him.
As a teen, he followed the lead of his mother and began hustling. The crack trade proved lucrative for 50 Cent, until he eventually encountered the law and got arrested repeatedly in 1994. It was around this point in time that he traded crime for hip-hop.
His break came in 1996 when he met Run-D.M.C.‘s Jam Master Jay, who gave him a tape of beats and asked him to rap over it. Impressed by what he heard, Jay signed the aspiring rapper to his JMJ Records label. Not much resulted from the deal though and 50 Cent affiliated himself with Trackmasters, a commercially successful New York-based production duo known for their work with such artists as Nas and Jay-Z.
Though he would later struggle with the nature of his fame as well as market expectations, 50 Cent endured substantial obstacles throughout his young yet remarkably dramatic life before becoming the most discussed figure in rap, if not pop music in general, around 2003.
Following an unsuccessful late ’90s run at mainstream success (foiled by an attempt on his life in 2000) and a successful run on the New York mixtape circuit (driven by his early-2000s bout with Ja Rule), Eminem signed 50 Cent to a seven-figure contract in 2002 and helmed his quick rise toward crossover success in 2003.
He reveled in his oft-told past, he called out wannabe gangstas, and he made headlines. He even looked like the ideal East Coast hardcore rapper: big-framed with oft-showcased biceps, abs, and tattoos as well as his trademark bulletproof vest, pistol, and iced crucifix. But all-importantly, 50 Cent may have fit the mold of a prototypical hardcore rapper, but he could also craft a catchy hook.
As a result, his music crossed over to the pop market, appealing to both those who liked his roughneck posturing and rags-to-riches story as well as those who liked his knack for churning out naughty sing-along club tracks. And too, 50 Cent didn’t forget about his posse. He helped his G-Unit crew grow into a successful franchise, spawning platinum-selling solo albums for his group members, lucrative licensing deals for the brand name, and sell-out arena tours to promote the franchise internationally.
50 Cent faced a formidable backlash particularly among hip-hop purists for his third album (Curtis, 2007). His turn toward crossover pop-rap and thus away from street-level credibility.left them disheartened.
In January 2014 50 Cent said he planned to release “Animal Ambition” in the first quarter of the year, followed by “Street King Immortal”. On February 20 he left Shady Records, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope, signing with Caroline Records and Capitol Records.
He cites Boogie Down Productions, Big Daddy Kane, The Juice Crew, EPMD and KRS-One as his rapping influences, while citing LL Cool J as an inspiration behind his writing of 21 Questions. 50 Cent also states that he drew influences from Nas, Rakim and The Notorious B.I.G. while working on “Animal Ambition”.
During his career 50 Cent has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and won several awards, including a Grammy Award, thirteen (13) Billboard Music Awards, six (6) World Music Awards, three (3) American Music Awards and four (4) BET Awards. He has pursued an acting career, appearing in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005), the Iraq War film Home of the Brave (2006) and Righteous Kill (2008).
50 Cent was ranked the sixth-best artist of the 2000s, the third-best rapper (behind Eminem and Nelly).
Rolling Stone considers Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and In Da Club to be in their lists of “100 Best albums of the 2000s” and “100 Best songs of the 2000s” at numbers 37 and 13 respectively.