Curtis James Jackson III (born July 6, 1975), known commonly as 50 Cent, is a popular rapper who rose to fame following the success of his albums ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre. Having achieved multi-platinum success with both, he is one of today's most successful rappers.
50 Cent is the product of a broken home in the rough Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. 50 lived everything most rappers write rhymes about but never actually experience: drugs, crimes, imprisonments, stabbings, and, most infamously of all, shootings; all of this before he even released his debut album.
When he was eight years old, his mother died and 50 Cent moved in with his grandparents. The crack trade proved lucrative for 50; until he eventually encountered the law, that is, and began making visits to prison.
50 stepped up to get his rep up, amassing a small fortune and a lengthy rap sheet. He became a father to a son, Marquise in 1997 and the birth of his son put things in perspective for the post adolescent, and 50 began to pursue rap seriously. 50 Cent met up with Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC fame and was signed to his label. JMJ would teach the young buck to count bars and structure songs. Unfortunately, caught up in industry limbo, there wasn't much JMJ could do for 50.
Later on 50 was taken noticed and signed by Columbia Records in 1999. They locked him up in the studio for 2 weeks. He turned out 36 songs in this short period, which resulted in "Power of the Dollar." ‘Power of the Dollar' was never released, though "How to Rob (an Industry Nigga)", a humorous ode to robbing a slew of industry rappers.
The latter track became a sizable hit, attracting a lot of attention for its baiting lyrics that detail how 50 would rob particular big-name rappers. This willingness to rap openly and brashly and the attention it attracted came back to haunt him, however.
Shortly after the release of "How to Rob," On May 24, 2000, an assassin attempted to take 50's life on 161st Street in Jamaica, Queens shooting him nine times with a 9mm pistol while the rapper sat helpless in the passenger seat of a car. One shot pierced his cheek, another his hand, and the seven others his legs and thighs; yet he survived, barely. Even so, Columbia wanted nothing to do with 50 when they heard the news, shelving Power of the Dollar and parting ways with the now-controversial rapper. He had to spend the next few months in recovery.
But still he banged out track after track, despite no income or backing, with his new business partner and friend Sha Money XL. The two recorded over 30 songs, strictly for mix-tapes, with the soul purpose of building a buzz. 50's street value rose and by the end of the spring of ‘01 he'd released the new material independently on the makeshift LP, ‘Guess Who's Back'?
Beginning to attract interest, and now backed by his crew, G-Unit, 50 stayed on his grinds and made more songs. And then 50 decided to showcase his hit making ability by retouching first class beats which had already been used by releasing the red, white and blue bootleg ‘50 Cent Is the Future', revisiting material by Jay-Z and even Rapheal Saadiq.
Shady Records' founder Eminem first encountered 50 Cent during an interview MTV News reporter Sway Calloway; Eminem apparently had not heard any of 50 Cent's performances before seeing him in person. Eminem brought the rapper to renowned hip-hop producer Dr. Dre's attention. Jackson quickly signed a deal with Interscope/ Aftermath/Shady Records (he was the first artist signed to Shady Records). During the successive months, 50 worked closely with Em and Dre, who would co-executive produce his upcoming debut, ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin', each of them producing a few tracks for the highly awaited album.
Jackson's first major label album, "Get Rich or Die Tryin' ," sold 872,000 units in its first week, breaking the record for a major label debut. The album was has been certified seven times platinum. Ever the clever businessman 50 didn't let the opportunity escape him and quickly released another bootleg of borrowed beats, ‘No Mercy, No Fear'. The CD featured only one new track, "Wanksta". Later this hit appeared on the multi-platinum soundtrack to Eminem's smash movie, 8 Mile.
Jackson's second next solo effort, "The Massacre" debuted on March 3, 2005. Originally called "The Valentine's Day Massacre", the title changed when the album release date was set back from February. Jackson scored an immediate hit with the album's first single, "Candy Shop." The album's second single, "Just A Lil' Bit" peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. "The Massacre" has also reached seven-times platinum status.
Amid all this, 50 made headlines everywhere. Most notably, he was tied to Jam Master Jay's shooting in October 2002, the F.B.I.'s investigation and some other shooting incidents. Furthermore, he made more headlines when he was jailed on New Year's Eve 2002 for gun possession. The media relished his life story, and not just the expected media outlets like MTV but even such unlikely mainstream publications as The New York Times ran feature stories. By 2003 he had become the most discussed figure in the music industry and his initial sales figures reflected this.
In 2003, Interscope granted Jackson his own label, G-Unit Records. Jackson's manager, Sha Money XL, serves as the president. Almost immediately the label signed several young and perspective rappers.
Before even signing to Eminem's and Dr. Dre's label, 50 Cent was engaged in a well-publicized dispute with rival rapper Ja Rule and his label Murder Inc. Records. This was one of the most well known feuds in hip-hop history. 50 Cent accused Ja Rule of "singing" instead of rapping. Ja Rule retaliated, accusing him of insulting other rappers to gain fame. 50 Cent also has a rivalry with Shyne, Nas, Lil' Kim, Joe Budden, Fat Joe, Jadakiss and D-Block.
50 Cent also had a feud with Jay-Z. Jay-Z did not take too kindly to 50 Cent's mention of him on "How to Rob" and responded with a line in his song "It's Hot". 50 Cent responded with "Be a Gentleman." The track was never heard by many due to the rapper departure from Columbia Records. 50 Cent and Jay-Z eventually squashed their beef.
50 Cent currently has an escalating feud with The Game. The Game, who was previously co-signed to G-Unit, was booted by 50 Cent. The Game's major debut album was surrounded by controversy. 50 Cent also claimed that he was not getting proper credit for the debut of the album. During that dispute, a member of The Game's entourage was shot after a confrontation outside the Hot 97 radio station. After numerous songs aimed at G-Unit, 50 Cent had responded to the The Game's rebuttals with a song titled "Not Rich, Still Lyin." The song imitates The Game and attacks his credibility. This was the first of many feuds where two rappers from the same label were involved against each other.
Nevertheless 50 Cent start to use his great success: after the release of ‘Beg for Mercy' from his group G-Unit, he teamed up with Reebok to release his own G-Unit Sneakers. He also invested in bottled water and his own clothing line. 50 Cent appeared on an episode of The Simpsons entitled. A video game called 50 Cent: Bulletproof has been announced for PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms. A PSP version is reportedly in the works. On November 2005 Jackson made his movie debut in the film, ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin'. 50 Cent starred in the poorly received semi-autobiographical 2005 film ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin' and released a memoir about his life up to his success and there are other books planned for release in 2007.