50 Cent (aka Curtis James Jackson) has been an explosive figure in the hip hop industry since his major label debut in 2003. Despite a hard childhood and youth, he has managed to pull himself out of the streets with unique rhymes and an ear for finding other rap talents.
50 Cent became rap’s golden boy when he was signed for a reported one million with Eminem’s Shady/Aftermath label. Emininem and rap superstar Dr. Dre built upon 50’s already present talent to create the monster single “In Da Club.” This 50 Cent song was featured on his first major label album “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” which was released in 2003. The 50 Cent video for the song included appearances by both Eminem and Dr. Dre, which catapulted his success.
After the success of the album, Interscope records granted 50 cent with his own record label G-Unit Records. He immediately signed Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, childhood friends, for the label. He joined these artists in a group called G-Unit, which released “Beg for Mercy” in 2003. Later additions the label included Young Buck, Olivia, Mob Deep and Young Hot Rod. 2008 saw a second album from the G-Unit group called “T.O.S: Terminate on Sight”.
At the same time, he began work on his second studio release entitled “The Massacre.” The album sold 1.14 million copies in the first four days. The 50 Cent videos for “Candy Shop,” “Disco Inferno” and “How We Do” helped place those three songs within the top five Billboard singles in the same week.
50 Cent’s success is driven by his desire to overcome his rough childhood and the shooting in May 2000 that put his rap career on hold. He was born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York to a teenage mother. He was raised by his grandparents after his mother’s murder when he was 8. By 12, 50 Cent was selling crack on the streets and taking guns to school. After several arrests during his late teens, he started to become interested in music.
During the late 1990s, he appeared on several records by other artists and was signed to Columbia records in 1999. He recorded thirty-six songs in two weeks and was prepared to release “Power of the Dollar” when he was shot. 50 Cent was attacked outside of his grandparent’s home and was shot nine times. His shooter was never officially charged but was killed in the streets three weeks later. In 50 Cent pictures before and after the shooting, one can see the slight damage to his left cheek from the shooting.
Columbia records dropped the artist immediately, considering him too risky. However, this didn’t stop his desire to become a rap star. While 50 Cent was recovering, he recorded thirty songs for rap mix tapes, which helped him build his reputation. It was on one of these mix tapes where Eminem first heard his music.
In addition to his wide discography, 50 Cent teamed with Reebok in 2003 to distribute G-Unit Sneakers. He also has a G-Unit Clothing company. He made his way into the video game world with the 2005 release of 50 Cent: BulletProof. A follow up to the game, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, was released in early 2009. He has also appeared in the films “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”, “Home of the Brave” and “Righteous Kill”.
50 cent’s third album Curtis was released in September of 2007 and sold 691,000 copies in the first week. His fourth album, Before I Self Destruct is anticipated for a spring 2009 release.