50 CENT-- GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'
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so than any other music since the blues, hip-hop is all about stories. And its
stories are both criminal minded and grand, making them enthralling and unbelievable,
but also making them only as interesting and convincing as the teller. That's
why, despite being blackballed by the industry, without a major-label recording
contract, heads still gravitated to Jamaica, Queens realest son, 50 Cent, like
the planets to the Sun.
50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson 26 years ago, is the real deal; the genuine article. He's a man of the street, intimately familiar with its codes and its violence, but still, 50, an incredibly intelligent and deliberate man, holds himself with a regal air as if above the pettiness which surrounds him. Couple his true-life hardship with his knack for addictive syrupy hooks, its clear that 50 has exactly what it takes to ride down the road to the riches and diamond rings. 50 is real, so he does real things.
Born into a notorious Queens drug dynasty during the late '70s 50 Cent lost those closest to him at an early age. Raised without a father, 50's mother, who's name carried weight in the street (hint, hint, dummies), was found dead under mysterious circumstances before he could hit his teens. The orphaned youth was taken in by his grandparents, who provided for 50. But his desire for things would drive him to the block. Which in his case was the infamous New York Avenue, now known as Guy R. Brewer Blvd. There, 50 stepped up to get his rep up, amassing a small fortune and a lengthy rap sheet. But the birth of his son put things in perspective for the post adolescent, and 50 began to pursue rap seriously. He signed with JMJ, the label of Run DMC DJ Jam Master Jay and began learning his trade. 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.
The platinum hitmakers Trackmasters took notice of 50 and
signed him to Columbia Records in 1999. They shipped 50 to Upstate NY where
they locked him up in the studio for 2 ½ weeks. He turned out 36 songs
in this short period, which resulted in Power Of A Dollar, an unreleased masterpiece
that Blaze Magazine judged a classic. 50's stick up kid anthem "How to
Rob" blew through the roof and playfully painted him as a deliriously
hungry up-and-comer daydreaming of robbing famous rappers. But 50 and the
fans were the only ones laughing.
Unable to take a joke Jay-Z, Big Pun, Sticky Fingaz, and Ghostface Killah
all replied to the song.
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", which was certainly not intended for radio, but the streets
couldn't wait for the official single and within weeks "Wanksta"
became New York's most requested record.