Before They Were Famous: 50 Cent

Fiddy cent may just be one of the most luxurious living men in the world. The man owns a fifty thousand square foot mansion, two Ferrari’s, a Lamborghini Murcielago, Rolls Royce Phantom, and Pontiac G8. He wears nothing but major fashion brand clothing in public, he has his own reality show, owns two film companies, and has his own fashion line. His tough upbringing is the typical result of the violent ghettos in Queens, New York. A kid that learnt everything the tough way.

50 cent was born Curtis James Jackson the third, in 1975. He was raised by a South Jamaican mother who was a cocaine dealer on the side. She would be murdered when Jackson was only 8.

“My grandmother told me, ‘Your mother’s not coming home. She’s not gonna come back to pick you up.’”

Jackson was then raised by his grandparents, who also raised nine children of their own. He spent most of his time roaming the streets and took up boxing at the age of eleven. By the age of twelve, Jackson took after his mother by selling crack on the streets.

“When I wasn’t killing time in school, I was sparring in the gym or selling crack on the strip.”

Just like any kid getting involved in crime, it didn’t take long for him to get caught. Jackson was bringing guns to school and stashing away his drug money in his locker. He was caught one day in, what, sadly, American schools have to resort to using, a metal detector.

“I was embarrassed that I got arrested like that …”

He was undeterred and, at the age of nineteen, he sold four vials of cocaine to an undercover cop. He was arrested several times that year for heroin possession, owning a pistol, and having crack in his apartment.

As those years passed, Jackson’s son, Marquise, was born. He decided then to stop selling drugs and pursue his dream of being a rapper. He began rapping with friends and came up with his famous rap alter ego, 50 cent. It was a metaphor for change after he turned his life around and was also the name of a notorious Brooklyn robber.

Jackson has said:

“I’m the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means.”

In 1996, a friend of Jackson’s introduced him to one of the members of his favourite hip hop groups, Run-D.M.C., Jam Master Jay. They immediately started talking music and Jackson became a student of his. Jackson was beginning to write his own music and Jay was helping him through his label, Jam Master Jay Records. Jackson wrote one of his biggest tracks, ‘How to Rob’, in half an hour and got him noticed by rappers all over the US. Just as he was rising to fame, Jackson was dragged down yet again by the power of the New York streets. In 2000, Jackson was visiting his grandmother and was shot 9 times at close range. He was shot in the hand, the legs, the arm, the hip, the chest, and his left cheek.

“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 managed to heal and his mouth recovered from the bullet that entered and took out one of his wisdom teeth, but Columbia Records dropped him as soon as they heard the news. A year later, Jackson brought out his song, ‘Wanksta’, a song about fellow rapper, Ja Rule, after Ja Rule accused Jackson of being involved in a robbery that happened in his house.

The song was heard by Eminem and he was soon signed up to Eminem’s label, Shady/Aftermath Records. He was one of the very first musicians to be signed with Eminem and his image grew from there on, making him one of the biggest rap artists in history.

We’ll end this very long and winded story with a quote worthy of being framed as a motivational poster: “The bottom line is, the obstacles that you overcome are going to determine how great you are.”

Jacob Reid


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