The first 26 years of Curtis Jackson's life have made way for
a remarkable success story. Born and raised in the rugged streets
of Southside Jamaica, Queens, Jackson (better known these days
as 50 Cent) endured a rough childhood. While growing up fatherless,
50 learned the tricks of the drug trade as a youngster by observing
his mother's hustling ways. When 50 was only eight years old,
his mother passed away and he was taken in by his grandparents.
In his early teens, 50 followed in his mother's footsteps and
began hustling on the streets of Queens, New York. After making
a name for himself as a lucrative drug dealer, he found himself
getting into more and more trouble with the law. Once his son
was born, however, 50 decided to refocus his energy and turned
toward rap music. His talent was discovered quickly by one of
hip-hop's pioneer DJs, the late Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC fame,
and the great DJ decided to take young 50 under his wing. While
helping 50 hone his skills as a lyricist, Jam Master went a step
further and signed him to his JMJ Records music label. Under Jay's
guidance, 50 learned to structure songs and count bars.
Although 50 Cent didn't strike it big on JMJ Records, the exposure
helped open up bigger doors for the young rapper. Soon afterwards,
50's rhyme styles caught the attention of New York-based platinum
music producers, the Trackmasters, and, in 1999, they quickly
signed him to their Columbia Records sub-label. In collaboration
with this gifted production team, 50 Cent crafted his debut album,
Power Of A Dollar.
Although his debut masterpiece was never released due to various
reasons, one track in particular earned the young rapper the recognition
he deserved. "How To Rob" caught just about everyone's
attention in the hip-hop community at this point in time, as 50's
lyrics targeted all the major players in the game. The track exposed
50's comedic-yet-realistic vision of robbing hip-hop's finest
of their cash and jewelry. The clever MC earned all of the attention
that an up-and-coming rap artist could ever desire in doing so.
The end result found many of rap's bigwigs, including Jay-Z,
Big Pun and Ghostface Killah, seeking redemption by responding
to 50's insult-ridden track with comeback tracks of their own.
While previously nameless in the rap game, 50 Cent now had a name
-- and a game.
Shortly thereafter, 50's exposure to the rap world was abruptly
interrupted when he was gunned down in front of his home in the
spring of 2000. During his recovery, things went from bad to worse
for 50, as Columbia Records dropped the controversial rapper.
After a lengthy recovery process, the banged-up artist, determined
to succeed, got back in the studio and recorded some new material
alongside producer and business partner, Sha Money XL. These tracks
found themselves circulating throughout the streets of New York
via mix tapes and two self-released albums, Guess Who's Back?
and 50 Cent Is The Future, thereby creating quite the stir for
50 and his G-Unit crew. His clever skills as a lyricist were once
again earning the rapper the recognition he strived to achieve.
One of the mix tapes featuring 50 Cent fell into the hands of
hip-hop superstar Eminem, who immediately heard a fellow star
in the music. Once Slim Shady publicly announced his appreciation
for 50's talent, a bidding war ensued among record labels to pick
up the blazing hot artist and 50 Cent found himself inking a record
contract for $1 million on Eminem's Shady Records and Dr. Dre's
Aftermath Records. Some call it an overnight success story; others
see it as one man's determination and drive finally paying off
-- and paying off in a very big way.
The seven-figure record deal is only the beginning for the 26-year-old
rap sensation. In his first three months alone in the spotlight,
50 has appeared on the soundtrack for 8 Mile while his debut album,
Get Rich Or Die Tryin', has already broken sales records by selling
1.5 million copies in its first week and a half of release. The
album's first single, "In Da Club," has topped music
video and radio station charts across the land, and has helped
earn him a title as one of today's most popular rappers.
With a clear vision to remain focused on his explosive career,
50 Cent has recently collaborated on tracks with some of hip-hop's
finest artists, including label mates Eminem and Dr. Dre. He has
signed a deal with Interscope Records to sign and develop artists
under the imprint G-Unit Records. Naturally, the first rapper
slated to release an album under this label will be none other
than a member of 50's very own crew, G-Unit's Lloyd Banks.
And just in case you haven't seen or heard enough of the rapper
over the past few months, be sure to check out 50's The New Breed
DVD, which features a value-added package including the world
premiere of his latest video, "Many Men." And if that's
not enough, you can also find 50 climbing the music video charts
with his other new video for "21 Questions."