50 Cent

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About 50 Cent

In 2003, hip-hop was in transition; it had become glossy and needed an antagonist—that's where Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson came in. The icons who built the genre in the 1980s and ‘90s had moved on or—in the cases of The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac—passed on. The Queens-born rapper entered as hip-hop’s newest villain: a fearless, battle-ready MC who wanted to make a mark through unconventional methods. Case in point, his first single was “How To Rob,” a controversial track about stealing money from R&B singers, rappers, and Hollywood A-listers. No one was safe, and he governed his career with the same bravado. This didn’t always work in his favor: In 2000, 50 was shot nine times in a parked car. After healing from his injuries, he vowed to create music and bounce back from a failed deal (his 2000 album, Power To The Dollar, was shelved by Columbia after the shooting). Featuring beats by Trackmasters, True Master, and Nottz, 50 dropped Guess Who’s Back?, a compilation that caught the attention of Eminem, who signed him to Shady Records. A year later, through a joint deal with Interscope and Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was released. His cocky, laidback flow on singles like “Wanksta,” “In Da Club,” and “P.I.M.P.” gave rap a jolt and made 50 a star. He used his competitive edge to produce the TV show Power, which was a cultural phenomenon until its sixth and final season in 2020. With serious skill and the business acumen to stay relevant, 50 may have started as a villain, but he became a hero.

Queens, NY, United States
July 6, 1975
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