50 Cent Biography
Born in South Jamaica, Queens, 50 Cent began drug dealing at the age of twelve during the 1980s crack epidemic. After leaving drug dealing to pursue a rap career, he was shot at and struck by nine bullets during an incident in 2000. After releasing his album Guess Who's Back? in 2002, 50 Cent was discovered by rapper Eminem and signed to Interscope Records. With the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre—who produced his first major commercial successes—he became one of the world's highest selling rappers. In 2003, he founded the record label G-Unit Records, which signed several successful rappers such as Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo.
50 Cent has engaged in feuds with other rappers including Ja Rule, Young Buck, The Game, Cam'ron, Fat Joe, and Rick Ross. He has also pursued an acting career, appearing in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin' in 2005, the Iraq War film Home of the Brave in 2006, and Righteous Kill in 2008. 50 Cent is one of the richest hip-hop performers, having a net worth estimated at US $440 million in 2008.
The word "50" in 50 Cent is sometimes pronounced or even written as fiddy.
Curtis Jackson III grew up in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, in New York City. He grew up without a father and was raised by his mother, Sabrina, who gave birth to him at the age of fifteen. Sabrina, a cocaine dealer, raised Jackson until the age of eight, when she was murdered in 1983. Twenty-three at the time, she became unconscious after someone drugged her drink. She was then left for dead after the gas in her apartment was turned on and the windows shut closed. After her death, Jackson moved into his grandparents' house with his eight aunts and uncles. He recalls, "My grandmother told me, 'Your mother's not coming home. She's not gonna come back to pick you up. You're gonna stay with us now.' That's when I started adjusting to the streets a little bit".
Jackson began boxing around the age of eleven. At fourteen, a neighbor opened a boxing gym for local kids. "When I wasn't killing time in school, I was sparring in the gym or selling crack on the strip", he recalled. In the mid 1980s, he competed in the Junior Olympics as an amateur boxer. He recounts, "I was competitive in the ring and hip-hop is competitive too... I think rappers condition themselves like boxers, so they all kind of feel like they're the champ". At the age of twelve, Jackson began dealing narcotics when his grandparents thought he was at after-school programs. He also took guns and drug money to school. In the tenth grade, he was caught by metal detectors at Andrew Jackson High School. He later stated, "I was embarrassed that I got arrested like that... After I got arrested I stopped hiding it. I was telling my grandmother [openly], 'I sell drugs.'"
On June 29, 1994, Jackson was arrested for helping to sell four vials of cocaine to an undercover police officer. He was arrested again three weeks later when police searched his home and found heroin, ten ounces of crack cocaine, and a starter gun. He was sentenced to three to nine years in prison, but managed to serve six months in a shock incarceration boot camp where he earned his GED. Jackson said that he did not use cocaine himself, he only sold it. He adopted the nickname "50 Cent" as a metaphor for "change". The name was derived from Kelvin Martin, a 1980s Brooklyn robber known as "50 Cent". Jackson chose the name "because it says everything I want it to say. I'm the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means".
50 Cent started rapping in a friend's basement where he used turntables to record over instrumentals. In 1996, a friend introduced him to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC who was organizing his label Jam Master Jay Records. Jay taught him how to count bars, write choruses, structure songs, and how to make a record. 50 Cent's first official appearance was on a song titled "React" with the group Onyx on their 1998 album Shut 'Em Down. He credited Jam Master Jay as an influence who helped him improve his ability to write hooks. Jay produced 50 Cent's first album; however, it was never released. In 1999, after leaving Jam Master Jay, the platinum-selling producers Trackmasters took notice of 50 Cent and signed him to Columbia Records. They sent him to a studio in Upstate New York where he produced thirty-six songs in two weeks. Eighteen were included on his unofficially released album, Power of the Dollar in 2000. He also started the now-defunct Hollow Point Entertainment with former G-Unit affiliate Bang 'Em Smurf.
50 Cent's popularity started to increase after the successful but controversial underground single, "How to Rob", which he wrote in half an hour while in a car on the way to a studio. The track comically explains how he would rob famous artists. He explained the reasoning behind song's content as, "There's a hundred artists on that label, you gotta separate yourself from that group and make yourself relevant". Rappers Jay-Z, Kurupt, Sticky Fingaz, Big Pun, DMX, Wyclef Jean and the Wu-Tang Clan replied to the song and Nas, who received the track positively, invited 50 Cent to travel on a promotional tour for his Nastradamus album. The song was intended to be released with "Thug Love" featuring Destiny's Child, but two days before he was scheduled to film the "Thug Love" music video, 50 Cent was shot and confined to a hospital due to his injuries.
On March, 2000, 50 Cent was confronted by Ja Rule and other artists from Murder Inc. at the Hit Factory recording studio in Harlem, after he recorded a believed diss song called "Your Life's On The Line", which was related to an earlier confrontations and theories of Ja Rule's jewellry being robbed by a friend of 50 Cent. 50 Cent was stabbed by Murder Inc artist Black Child, and was treated for lacerations and a partially collapsed lung at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
On May 24, 2000, 50 Cent was attacked by a gunman, alleged to be Darryl "Hommo" Baum, outside his grandmother's former home in South Jamaica, Queens. He went into a friend's car, but was asked to return to the house to get jewelry. His son was in the house while his grandmother was in the front yard. Upon returning to the back seat of the car, another car pulled up nearby. An assailant then walked up to 50 Cent's left side with a 9mm handgun and fired nine shots at close range. He was shot nine times: in the hand (a round hit his right thumb and came out of his little finger), arm, hip, both legs, chest, and left cheek. The face wound resulted in a swollen tongue, the loss of a wisdom tooth, and a small slur in his voice. His friend also sustained a gunshot wound to the hand. They were driven to the hospital where 50 Cent spent thirteen days. Baum, the alleged shooter, was killed three weeks later. Baum was also Mike Tyson's close friend and bodyguard.
50 Cent recalled the incident saying, "It happens so fast that you don't even get a chance to shoot back.... I was scared the whole time.... I was looking in the rear-view mirror like, 'Oh shit, somebody shot me in the face! It burns, burns, burns.'" In his memoir, From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens, he wrote, "After I got shot nine times at close range and didn't die, I started to think that I must have a purpose in life... How much more damage could that shell have done? Give me an inch in this direction or that one, and I'm gone". He used a walker for the first six weeks and fully recovered after five months. When he left the hospital, he stayed in the Poconos with his then-girlfriend and son. His workout regime helped him attain his muscular physique.
While in the hospital, 50 Cent signed a publishing deal with Columbia Records. However, he was dropped from the label and "blacklisted" in the recording industry because of his song "Ghetto Qu'ran". Unable to find a studio to work with in the U.S, he traveled to Canada. Along with his business partner Sha Money XL, he recorded over thirty songs for mixtapes, with the purpose of building a reputation. 50 Cent's popularity rose and in 2002, he released material independently on the mixtape, Guess Who's Back?. Beginning to attract interest, and now backed by G-Unit, 50 Cent continued to make songs. They released the mixtape, 50 Cent Is the Future, revisiting material by Jay-Z and Raphael Saadiq.
In 2002, Eminem listened to a copy of 50 Cent's Guess Who's Back? CD. He received the CD through 50 Cent's attorney, who was working with Eminem's manager Paul Rosenberg. Impressed with the album, Eminem invited 50 Cent to fly to Los Angeles, where he was introduced to Dr. Dre. After signing a one million dollar record deal, 50 Cent released the mixtape, No Mercy, No Fear. It featured one new track, "Wanksta", which was put on Eminem's 8 Mile soundtrack. He was also signed to Chris Lighty's Violator Management and Sha Money XL's Money Management Group.
In February 2003, 50 Cent released his commercial debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Allmusic described it as "probably the most hyped debut album by a rap artist in about a decade". Rolling Stone noted the album for its "dark synth grooves, buzzy keyboards and a persistently funky bounce" with 50 Cent complementing the production in "an unflappable, laid-back flow". It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 872,000 copies in the first four days. The lead single, "In da Club", which The Source noted for its "blaring horns, funky organs, guitar riffs and sparse hand claps", broke a Billboard record as the most listened-to song in radio history within a week.
Interscope granted 50 Cent his own label, G-Unit Records in 2003. He signed Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck as the established members of G-Unit. The Game was later signed under a joint venture with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. In March 2005, 50 Cent's second commercial album, The Massacre, sold 1.14 million copies in the first four days—the highest in an abbreviated sales cycle— and peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 for six weeks. He became the first solo artist to have three singles on the Billboard top five in the same week with "Candy Shop", "Disco Inferno", and "How We Do". Rolling Stone noted that "50's secret weapon is his singing voice — the deceptively amateur-sounding tenor croon that he deploys on almost every chorus".
After The Game's departure, 50 Cent signed singer Olivia and rap veterans Mobb Deep to G-Unit Records. Spider Loc, M.O.P., 40 Glocc and Young Hot Rod later joined the label. 50 Cent expressed interest in working with rappers outside of G-Unit, such as Lil' Scrappy of BME, LL Cool J from Def Jam, Mase from Bad Boy, and Freeway of Roc-A-Fella, some of whom he recorded with. In September 2007, he released his third album Curtis, which was inspired by his life before Get Rich or Die Tryin'. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 691,000 units in the first week, behind Kanye West's Graduation, whom he had a sales competition with, as both albums were released on the same day. He confirmed on TRL on September 10, 2008 that his fourth studio album, Before I Self Destruct, will be "done and released in November". On May 18 2009, 50 cent released a song entitled "Ok, You're Right". The song was produced by Dr. Dre and will be included in Before I Self Destruct. In Fall 2009, 50 is set to appear in the new season of VH1's Behind The Music.
50 Cent has established himself in a variety of fields. In November 2003, he signed a five year deal with Reebok to distribute a "G-Unit Sneakers" line as part of his G-Unit Clothing Company. He provided the voice-over as the protagonist in the video game, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, which was released for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and the PlayStation Portable. Its sequel, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, was released in early 2009. He worked with Glacéau to create a Vitamin Water drink called Formula 50. In 2007, Coca-Cola purchased Glacéau for US$4.1 billion. Forbes estimated 50 Cent, who owns a stake in the company, earned $100 million from the deal after taxes. He has teamed up with Right Guard to launched a body spray called Pure 50 RGX Body Spray and a condom line called Magic Stick Condoms, in which he planned to donate part of the proceeds to HIV awareness. 50 Cent has signed a multi-year deal with Steiner Sports to sell his memorabilia.
In 2005, 50 Cent made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons episode "Pranksta Rap", in which he makes light of his legal troubles. The same year, he starred alongside Terrence Howard in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He starred in the 2006 film, Home of the Brave, as a soldier returning home from the Iraq War, traumatized after killing an Iraqi woman. 50 Cent is working on a role as a fighter in an Angola State Prison in Spectacular Regret alongside Nicolas Cage, and starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in 2008's Righteous Kill, a movie regarding a police death. He also started the film production companies G-Unit Films in 2007 and Cheetah Vision in 2008. In August 2007, 50 Cent announced plans to launch a dietary supplement company in conjunction with his movie Spectacular Regret.
Shortly before appearing in Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 Cent released a memoir about his life and how he became successful titled From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens. On January 4, 2007, he launched his G-Unit Books imprint at the Time Warner Building. He also co-wrote The Ski Mask Way, a novel about a small-time drug dealer who attempts to rob his employers, which is to be turned into a film. 50 Cent said he read Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War and worked with the author on a book titled The 50th Law, an urban take on The 48 Laws of Power. In May 2008, Jackson met billionaire Patrice Motsepe to forge a joint venture selling 50 Cent-branded platinum.
Jackson started a reality television show on MTV titled 50 Cent: The Money and the Power; the winning contestant won a $100,000 investment from Jackson. The Winners name is Ryan Mayberry.
On October 13, 1997, 50 Cent's then-girlfriend Shaniqua Tompkins gave birth to a son, Marquise Jackson. Tompkins later sued 50 Cent for $50 million dollars, claiming that he said that he would take care of her for life; the suit, which includes 15 claims was later dismissed by a judge, calling it "an unfortunate tale of a love relationship gone sour." As of February 2009, Tompkins' and her lawyer are considering an appeal.
The birth of his son changed 50 Cent's outlook on life: "when my son came into my life, my priorities changed, because I wanted to have the relationship with him, that I didn’t have with my father". He credited his son for inspiring his career and being "motivation to go in a different direction".
50 Cent has a tattoo of "Marquise" with an axe on his right biceps. "The axe is 'cause I'm a warrior. I don't want him to be one, though", he explains. He also has "50", "Southside", and "Cold World" inscribed on his back because "I'm a product of that environment. It's on my back, though, so it's all behind me". 50 Cent dated actress Vivica A. Fox in 2003. After a few months, he announced their split up on the The Howard Stern Show when pictures from a photo shoot they did ended up on the cover of Today's Black Woman magazine without his knowledge.
In 2005, 50 Cent expressed support for President George W. Bush after rapper Kanye West criticized him for the slow response in assisting the Hurricane Katrina victims. If his felony convictions did not prevent him from voting, he claimed he would have voted for Bush. He later stated that Bush "has less compassion than the average human. By all means, I don’t aspire to be like George Bush".
In 2007, Forbes recognized 50 Cent for his wealth, placing him second behind Jay-Z in the rap industry. He resides in Farmington, Connecticut, in the former mansion of ex-boxer Mike Tyson. He put the mansion for sale at US$18.5 million to move closer to his son who lives in Long Island with his ex-girlfriend. On October 12, 2007, the Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut declared it "50 Cent Curtis Jackson Day". He was honored with a key to the city and an official proclamation. One of his homes in New York purchased for 2.4 million dollars in January 2007 and at the center of a lawsuit between 50 Cent and ex-girlfriend Shaniqua Tompkins caught fire on May 31, 2008 while he was out of town filming for a movie in Louisiana.
In December 2008 50 told the Canadian Press that he had already been hit by the recession, losing several million dollars on the stock market. He also went on to say that he had been unable to sell his Connecticut mansion and pushed Before I Self-Destruct back because of the recent economic downturn.