There’s no doubt the majority of America has at least heard the name “50 Cent,” but not many people know much about him besides the fact that he’s a world renowned rapper and has been shot nine times. Because of this, 50 Cent, born Curtis James Jackson III, has gone to great lengths to show the world who he is. His newest project, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, is a film based loosely on his life. He also wrote his biography, From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens.
Brought into the mainstream by Eminem and G-Unit, 50 Cent released hit after hit, including “Wanksta” and “In Da Club.” His immense popularity has come from his catchy beats and his ability to relay his difficult childhood into rap lyrics. 50 Cent is also known as a very intelligent businessman. His debut album alone, also named Get Rich or Die Tryin’, sold 872,000 copies in its first week and helped turn his past hardships into a future of riches and stability. The Oracle was one of many college newspapers that participated in a conference call with 50 Cent about his life and upcoming movie.
The Oracle: You’ve said that the trials in your life have gotten you where you are today. Would you rather have a normal life, or would you keep things the way they are?
50 Cent: For me, I’d keep things exactly the way they are. If it didn’t feel so bad then, it wouldn’t feel so good now. I mean, what we consider a normal life may be a life where people don’t actually come into their own and be able to show some significance about them as a person. Like, I’m from the bottom, so my situation either becomes inspiring to people, or they envy it because they’re not in the same position that I’m in. But overall, I feel good about my accomplishments, and I don’t believe ambition is a learned behavior; I believe it’s a part of your character.
I realize that to come up without finances, I felt like finances would be the answer to all my problems. It wasn’t until I acquired the finances that I realized what truly makes me happy is setting new goals and accomplishments.
Harvard Crimson: You said that you let your son see all your music and videos and everything like that. For songs like “Get in My Car” and videos like the “Disco Inferno” video, you let him see all that stuff?
50: He gets a chance to see all of it. And you know why? It’s because if I left him to see these things on his own, “Disco Inferno” Ã¢€” that video is a little graphic; you got some strip-club action going on. But how often have you seen scenes in films that give you a description of a strip club? It’s also that portions of it plays at night, that video is actually being played. So if it’s Saturday and he doesn’t have school and there’s no reason for him to make him go to bed, he might be up late enough to see the video on BET.
So, I allow him to see it and give him an explanation for it so he has an understanding that I gave him before he makes an assumption himself. Being a 9-year-old kid, we should assume that he’s going to assume the wrong thing. If he did something that wasn’t right, if he actually physically hurt somebody or set a fire or did anything, it wouldn’t be his fault right now because he’s a minor. It’s his parents’ fault for having him out there doing that without being looked after or allowing him to have those types of behaviors. So I show him those things, not hide him from them.
I think people put their kids in danger more when they don’t educate them on certain things or allow them to see (them). If you allow someone to go on the Internet, how many sites are there where you’re going to see a woman?
HC: So are you saying that when you let him experience your art, you’re also giving him guidance and telling him that misogamy is not acceptable, and neither is violence, so you’re adding that commentary?
50: Do you think misogamy is the definition of “Disco Inferno’s” video?
HC: Well, you said it’s pretty graphic. It portrays women as objects.
50: Ok, check this out, right: “Disco Inferno” is actually shot in a strip club. So you’re saying our adult entertainment business shows women as objects? There’s a strip club in every town, in every city that you go through, with women on the table right now. If there wasn’t a market for it, it wouldn’t be there. It’s government legal, generates revenue, everybody’s cool with it. It’s adult entertainment. But when you put it in a music video, it’s misogamy, I guess.
HC: I think the difference is that you have a bigger audience.
50: A bigger audience. See, that right there is what I’ve been hearing all week. My advertisement on my film posters, right, I have a gun in one hand and a microphone in the other. How often have you seen guns utilized as a marketing tool for action films, or films period? A billion times. If you walk into Blockbuster, you’ll see guns probably more than you’ll see people. At the end of the day, they place different standards on music as an art form. Because I’m coming from music, they want to place those standards on me, like there’s different things in film that I’m able to do that they’ll object to immediately because (of) their perception of me. At the end of the day, it’ll generate more interest for me and makes me even more successful because they place those standards (on it).
The fact that they tell people that, “Is this the message we’re sending our kids? Get rich or die trying?” Ã¢€” this is already the theme for the largest album that sold the year that I came. Right now, The Massacre is the bestselling album this year. I just think that the aggressive content comes from the mood of the entire, everybody in the U.S. right now. It’s not just what I’m talking about; I mean, I do make a description of a specific environment that I’m from, but the fact that they’re actually buying it says something about the rest of people there.
HC: Just to get back to your son, are you saying that what you’re showing him is reality?
50: Absolutely. It’s something that is gonna be out there; he’s gonna see these things. If you go on the Internet, how many times will you see a naked woman? How many sites have women on them? Whether they’re trying to sell you a calendar, whether they’re just attached to other sites, you’re going to see that all day. Pornography sites, everything. So if you give him access to his computer, and he’s in there, why can’t he end up in there because his other friend from school told him this is what he should log on to.
I actually saw my son on the computer on a site like that, with girls on it; they had bathing suits on and stuff. But I’m like, “Who put this on this site?” And I talk to him about it, but you aren’t going to be able to hide these things from kids. You can either say, “You can do these things, and we can talk about it,” or you can say, “Do this when I’m not paying attention and make your own assumptions about it.”
Embassy Newspaper: I watched in the movie trailer that there was a line in there, which was, “I’d rather die like a man than run like a coward.” How important is that code of conduct as a warrior? How important is that to how you see yourself?
50: Well, that’s a true statement as far as my life and my character. I have no choice but to face the things that others might have been afraid of. So, I don’t see any other option. I could be in a situation (in which) people don’t understand that I might not be 100 percent comfortable with being in the space that I’m in a lot of the times, but I adapt to it. I’m not afraid of the situation.
After you go through experiencing life-threatening situations, you can kind of make the decision about how you want to live your life. If you realize you’re not actually in control of your life on some levels, if you believe in a higher power, you have to fully adapt. It changes the way I feel about things, period. I’m allowed to live my life the way I wanna live my life Ã¢€” to not be moved around. People just do what they want with me. I don’t want to do that.
San Diego State Daily Aztec: You mentioned earlier that you have the No. 1 CD in America, that you had to go on tour, and you’ve been adding a lot of artists to your label lately. Do you think that it was the right time right now, considering everything you’re doing to work on the film, or do you think that you could’ve waited?
50: I think that it feels good. It feels like a good time for it to actually come out. There haven’t been any other films to come out that have been similar at this point. You have to realize, these projects are projects that I’ve started two years ago, and they’re just finally ready to make it to retail or to be seen by the world.
DA: Now that you’ve worked on this type of project with a character that’s such a reflection of your own life, are you looking forward to doing any roles that are completely different from the Marcus character, or is this something you just wanted to do right now?
50: If I did do another film, it would be something far away from my actual past. People don’t believe that. They think that because it’s based on my life story that I’m playing myself; you still gotta really act in the film. (Just) because you’re just playing yourself doesn’t mean that you can come in happy the day that you’re supposed to be sad as an actor. You gotta be able to display different emotions on cue. People put you in front of a camera and say “OK, you gotta cry in this scene.” Huh?
DA: Did you find that it was easy to transition yourself into that kind of mood, or did it take a couple takes?
50: I was so anxious about shooting those scenes. I know I had to do them at some point, so early on when I hadn’t gotten to those scenes yet, I was still asking, “So, when are we shooting this scene?” (I was) getting a little nervous, so when it came time to actually do it, it wasn’t that difficult. I think if anything, the nervous energy at the same time helped the situation.