50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' album just didn't impact fans. It resonated throughout the industry with his peers and artists that were young and looking to get into the business.
Complex's Joe LaPuma, Ernest Baker, David Drake, Lauren Nostro, and Insanul Ahmed talked to some of the artists the album impacted the most.
"At the time, we were both managed by Chris Lighty. And, man, it was at the height of his musical rise and his beef was just as high as his musical rise. [Laughs.] I remember having to go through back entrances and so on. I was at the Meadowlands and there was a shooting at the bus and all of that. I remember it was crazy drama. But it was crazy drama nightly. Security was high because of the attempts at 50 and the whole G-Unit gang. It was serious.
"The tour, though, was so great because the energy from the fans was just amazing. 50 was the newest, hottest artist. All the stars had aligned for him. It was interesting to see him be in work mode, but have this type of beef going on. His beefs were really real, and he was really performing to the best of his ability every night. All of them were. And then it would be like high security lock down afterwards
"50 didn’t let it get to him at all—not that I saw. We weren’t talking about it, but I knew what the hell was going on because I knew the way in which I had to move in regards to the tour.
"I like 50 Cent. I've said it numerous times, G-Unit was my favorite label. And his mission—I still respect his mission and what he was doing to this day. I just like the fact that it was like, ‘Fuck everybody, it’s just about my crew.’ As you can see, when your fame started to get from outside of that motto, that’s when things started breaking down. I always respected 50 just because it was like, he saw it. It all reminds me of the streets. He handled his business in the crew in a sense of, it seemed like, street rules.
"If there’s a few crews getting money in the streets, for example. A lot of times, they don’t cross paths. And if they do, it’s a line that is totally drawn. It’s like, ‘Listen, I’m all about my crew, they all about their crew and that's just what it is.’ He had that same motto and that same mentality [with business]. I understood where he was coming from in wanting to keep his circle tight. When things started to get a little different and people started deviating from that motto, I believe that’s why things began to unravel.
"Get Rich or Die Tryin' was a classic album because, to me, musically, everything aligned. Even just as far as the times, the controversy, everything was just in line. It was a whole body of work. It wasn’t just a lyrical thing to me. And that’s usually what I’m about. Whereas I might have been like, ‘Damn, the lyrics weren’t the best on a particular song, but the hook was crazy. It married the beat well' and the lyrics weren’t bad, it just wasn’t my particular Jay-Z level of intricacy. And it made me have a whole other outlook, because I’m like, ‘Damn, I can love this and I can like this and I do see the greatness in it without it being what I strive for.’ 50 Cent made me look at music and writing differently."
"I remember being in the club and the vinyl was still popping then and you could play six or seven records off that album and send the club into a frenzy. "'What Up Gangsta,' 'Poor Lil Rich,' '21 Questions,' and of course 'In Da Club'." "P.I.M.P" was hard too, that was mean. 50 was in the zone. He was coming off hot mixtapes. That was kind of the first time an artist was riding and he brought his whole team with him.
"Usually an artist comes out, sells a little bit then brings out artists. He kind of had the artists next to him in the whole album. From the freestyles to mixtapes. I remember him, Yayo and Banks coming out and doing a freestyle on my show and they all kept yelling '50 could retire if he wanted to!'
"The freestyle was mean that night. That album was a combination of every part of the United States. He had Nate Dogg giving you that West Coast feel. 50 always had a little South in him to me. Queens was always represented. It was an amazing album. It was also a hard album for him to top, a hard album for a lot of people to top.
"'In Da Club' was so hard, man. I spoke to him or something and he eluded towards having a single and I didn't hear it but if you listen to that freestyle on my show, he does the hook to "In Da Club." He knew he had a smash. I remember in the club to tell a girl 'Go shawty, it's your birthday' was disrespectful. It wasn't cool, that wasn't nice. That was usually leading towards a woman being loose. The whole thing is we know it's not your birthday but we're saying it's your birthday just because you're on the dance floor acting silly. I thought that was funny and his verse was mean. That beat was so—that 'boom boom cha boom boom' was so crazy.
"I never go into the booth saying I'm going to play a record on the radio for an hour straight. I'll play it and then they'll be people in the station and I just get a vibe. Like you know when a record is doing good, it's this feeling. It's all on gut feeling, I never go in there saying I'm going to play it a bunch of times. I just heard it and was like this is hard. Sometimes I hear something through a computer and then I hear it through the big speakers in the big DJ booth. Sometimes it's a better feeling, sometimes it's a worse feeling.
"That record in particular I was like, 'This is cranking!' There was no stopping it after that. I probably did that whole playing a record an hour straight on the radio with a Dre record, a Jay-Z record, and 50's record. I think Cam'ron had called a few days later like, 'I was riding the highway up to Harlem, had that record on and then when I was riding back down you still had the record on.' All those records I mentioned off his album still crank in the club. It's a different energy, it's a 10-year later classic type of remembrance to it.
"When it used to be big years ago, it was like hearing mixtape cuts in the club. It went from there to now—it's like a classic movement and people like those records. The album represented a special artist. He's been through a lot. He got shot nine or 10 times, labels weren't signing him, he got dropped from Sony. He had to regroup—come back with mixtapes. He appeared that he was still persecuted, he was being blocked, he was beefing with Ja Rule and Irv Gotti. So he was kind of in trouble and then those mixtapes man, making those mixtapes over, having those little beefs here and there-that album was reflecting the voice of the current crown holder of the street. This was like getting a dope polished mixtape from a guy that was holding the street crown so it was a big deal."
"I had met 50 probably about two years, maybe even three, before that. He was with Atlantic. I met him through Tone & Poke. Tone was a good friend of mine. 50 was originally with Tone back in those days. I had recorded with 50 prior to him getting stabbed and then shot. Seeing him come back through all of that to create a situation for himself doing the mixtapes, forming G-Unit, getting that crazy street buzz, signing with Eminem and Dr. Dre. All that stuff, it just seemed so larger than life at the time. Personally, I was just happy to see this guy persevere through everything. 50 was always a cocky guy. He always didn’t a damn what anybody thought about what he said and he just rode that out."
"Every time All-Star comes around, it always reminds me of that February '03 when All-Star was in Atlanta and 50 Cent dropped his album. That was the soundtrack for the All-Star week. For that moment, it was crazy. The whole industry was in the city and 50 was made such a monumental album.
"At that point 'In Da Club' was already a smash, but you knew '21 Questions' was definitely a hit record. I started playing records in the club to get the feel for them and saw the reaction, I saw which records were gonna go. But out of all the songs on the album, I could say probably at least eight, maybe even 10 records, could all be played in the club.
"The South loved 50. Point blank, period, I think he was smart because he clearly embraced the South. Even before the album, he had done a record with UGK, he was cool with Juvenile and Ludacris, and he embraced Young Buck. More than anything, 50 had the nation on smash so the South was no different.
"Right before the album dropped, he came down here and did a party at this club called Level 3 on Peachtree Street. I guess the promoter had got him at the perfect time because it was pandemonium. This was when the club was still open crazy late and 50 didn't even come until 4 o'clock in the morning, but it was still packed. He used to open up his shows with that Jay-Z line, 'I'm about a dollar, what the f*** is 50 cents?' Then he'd drop the coin [and come on stage]. So you knew who was about to come on when you heard that.
"You know, what 50 did, what Kanye did, what Jay-Z did, what Drake did, what Jeezy did, those were those moments when it's just that one artist and he is hip-hop for that moment. Clearly when Get Rich or Die Tryin' came out there's no argument anywhere, about anything. It was Fif's world, period."
"I was a fan. I love Get Rich or Die Tryin’. That was one of my favorite albums. It’s a classic. I was really, really listening to that album. Then he had the G-Unit thing going on and Young Buck was a friend of mine. I been knowing Young Buck forever. So I was happy for Young Buck as well, because he’d been rapping so long and he finally got his big break in G-Unit. I think it’s a blessing for people coming from the street to do something that they love and actually make a living off it and feed their families and stuff. That’s very important. It’s important to work together."
"I was 12 years old. The first time I heard about 50 Cent was that 'Wanksta' video. I was still in the hood and s***. When 'Wanksta' came out, I was like, 'Who is this dude? Who is this new n****?' And they was like, 'Man, he dissing on Ja Rule.'
"'Wanksta' was aight. I thought it was okay. The video was hard. I thought he was gonna be a one-hit wonder. I was like, 'This just some new n**** with a video. Who is 50 Cent?' Then after that he came out with 'In Da Club,' then I seen 'In Da Club' come on TV and it was just over with. That n**** was my favorite rapper. I was like, 'God damn, this n**** got so much swag.' Then I got on the Internet and looked him up and s***. I ain’t never really have enough money to buy the album, to keep it real. I got his album from a n**** at school. I used to play football. We went on a trip to play football and dude had the Get Rich or Die Tryin’ CD on him. So s***, I just got it off him, he let me have it, and I just used to bump that s*** like everyday. I remember my daddy had a copy in his car.
"When I first met him, that was actually surreal. It was an unreal moment. That was tight. When we first started recording music together that was definitely a memorable time.
"One thing about 50, dude don’t never shut up. When we sit down, this n**** talk for an hour, two hours, however long you let him talk, that’s how long the n**** gonna talk to you. He got so many stories, and so many lessons, and so much s*** he been through. I’ll sit down with him, we could be at a dinner or something, and that n**** just be rambling. It’s all up on you to listen, so I definitely be listening to him. He definitely gives some good advice, but he gives a lot of advice. If you cool with 50, anybody will tell you, that n**** talks a lot. Like, if he really f**** with you, he trying to give you some advice, that n**** goes on and on and on and on. He’s so smart, man, that s*** crazy. I just try to soak up as much of it as I can. Anytime he sit down and tell me some s***, it ain’t never been wrong, it ain’t never no dumb s***. It’s always something smart like he know what the f*** he talking about. He a cool dude, man, for real. He know he one of the greats."
"It was a good time for Queens. 50 had just dropped. He was really heating up. It was just crazy. He was a friend of a friend, so it felt good to see him be successful like that and get his shine.
"They would play 'In Da Club' and I’d be blasting that s*** in the car. I remember I had a Yukon Denali XL at that time, a white one, and I was living up in Rockland County and I remember being on the Palisades parkway at night and listening to Hot 97. I remember it exactly: First they played Ludacris’ song, then played 50’s song, back-to-back. And then they kept playing 50’s song. They would keep bringing it back.
"I was like, 'Yo, this n**** is out of here with this s***.' That was a good time back then, man. That was definitely a good time in hip-hop. For the South, for New York. I’m trying to think of any other market that was poppin’ at that time. I think it was just like Atlanta and Queens, to tell you the truth."
"I'm a big 50 Cent fan, so I definitely supported it when the joint came out. I lived right across the street from a Tower Records, so I remember going in there and grabbing that album.
"There was a lot of excitement around 50. We were always cool. He was on a mixtape tour so we were doing a bunch of shows together. I remember when his album came out and it did all them numbers, I called him like, 'Yo, your joint did a lot of numbers, it's gone be crazy.' He was like, 'Don't worry about it, your joint gon' do the same thing when it drop.' My joint was successful, it ain't do all the numbers that he did, but it was definitely still a classic. So it's all good. I seen him a couple times [after my album dropped] and he told me he loved the album. But I don't think he gave me a call when it dropped, he was still running around doing his thing.
"We ain't never talk about [how 50 would open his shows with Jay-Z's 'I'm about a dollar, what the f*** is 50 Cent.'] Jay was cool with 50 because of the Roc The Mic tour. 50 used to always come to the dressing room, f*** with Jay, they used to always be cool. I remember when 50 first got the Vitaminwater deal, he came in and told Jay like, 'Yeah man, I just did a deal with Vitaminwater. I'm about to get paid off this Vitaminwater.' He would always come in and f*** with Jay, so it was always love."
"First thing I heard [of 50 Cent's] was 'How To Rob.' Then he got shot, so when I heard Get Rich, I could tell that bullet going through his cheek affected him. But he made that work for him just like Kanye made [his car crash] work for 'Through the Wire.' He made it sound good and I guess it gave him a little bit more swag.
"There were a lot of hits on that m***********. Everybody liked 'What Up Gangsta' because I come from a gang bang neighborhood. So he gave love to both sides. [Laughs.] 'Wanksta' was the hood jam. He had so many videos, he did the SWV thing where damn near every song was a single and had a video. It was a beautiful thing that he did.
"I remember being in the club and hearing 'In Da Club.' Everybody was talking about it before I heard it. Then I heard it in the club somewhere—I think I was down South or in Houston—and was like, 'Oh my f****** God.' I remember being in the middle of the dance floor. It was packed because everybody down South dances. I remember thinking he was so smart for saying, 'Go shorty. It's ya birthday,' because everybody can relate.
"I met a couple years ago for the first time. I went up to do a ThisIs50.com interview with Jack Thriller. 50 happened to be there. He came out of his office. I said, 'What's up brother?' He was real calm and saying how he loved the way we're doing business. I was flattered, coming from 50, because he's a businessman. In my eyes he's an MC, businessman, all that. So to hear another businessman to another say, I admire what you're doing, it's a big thing. I love to see what he's built. I think his Get Rich movie was top-notch. I think it's neck and neck with8 Mile. I think he did a wonderful job acting.
"He said to me, 'Tech, I bought Mike Tysons house off of one record, 'In Da Club.' He said, 'One song Tech.' Every since then, everyone keeps saying that to me, 'Tech, you're one song away.' Every time I hear 'In Da Club,' I think of 50 saying to me, 'I bought Mike Tysons house off of one song.'
"50 probably ain't gotta do s*** no more [to make money]. To still see him doing music, it lets you know that that s*** is inside you because he ain't gotta do it, ever again. To see him keep doing it, it lets me know that when I think about retiring, [I can't]. When I hear a dope beat it makes me want to f****** go. I can't stop. That's all I can think of when I see 50 still doing his thing. It must be in his blood, he don't wanna let it go. He ain't gotta do it, especially if he bought Mike Tysons house with one song."
"I was in New Orleans. I thought it was a great record. It was a street record, it was good, it had all elements, the beats, a top record. I really liked it. It was a good piece of work by 50. The club song ["In Da Club"] was the record for me, the one that got me. I was really mostly doing a lot of movies at the same time. Which was good because when you have good music, it gets you through whatever you're doing. We were definitely playing that album on the set."
Stic.Man of Dead Prez
50’s presence and his inspiration at that time was infectious, in terms of the culture, in terms of the community, in terms of the hood, in terms of hip-hop. Like him or not like him, 50 Cent has a master plan of marketing his brand and using his life to draw attention to what he was about.
"We all saw it right before our eyes. He was leading by example in terms of how he would flood the hood with songs. A lot of times people be so jealous of each other, we don’t give each other credit for what we teach each other in this game. Different people have been innovative businessmen as it relates to marketing and strategy, and everybody who’s part of this game benefits from it, but we often don’t give people the credit they deserve.
"For us, as Dead Prez, we was watching 50. We certainly might not have united with everything, content-wise, he was about. Some things we did. But we appreciated his go-getter, guerilla approach to making your dream happen. In terms of how he had the bootleggers flooded. All the Africans in New York had his tapes, to the point where we were influenced and our Turn Off the Radio mixtape, we benefited from some of his tactics and applying it to some of our own stuff.
"I salute 50 as a brilliant business person, even though politically he took some stances on things—like loving selling crack, and certain views he might have towards women—that we don’t necessarily agree with. But in the bigger scheme of things, I think he has shown by example the power of being on top of your business as an artist."
"Even a year before [Get Rich came out], I did two records with 50 before he even was signed, and he was about to get signed to Dre and Em. Not too many people had heard of him yet, on a national scale. So when he blew up, I kinda knew that he was gonna be big.
It was crazy, because at that time, everybody was waiting for the next big thing, and when GRODT came out, that s*** was like...I don’t know. It just gave you this sense of like: hip-hop is still alive type-s***.
Son was from Queens. Hip-hop was still poppin. New York hip-hop was still thriving somewhat, a little bit.
Every song on the album was dope. Wasn’t a song on there that I didn’t like. It made you feel good, because being from New York, you’d see how the New York scene was starting to wane, and for somebody to come out from New York and sell multiple platinum albums out the gate? It was one of those things that make you feel good to be from New York."
"My momma bought it for me. I couldn't get it because it was a parental advisory [CD]. I was going crazy, I was bad as hell listening to it. S***, that was one of the best albums ever, you know?
"[I listened to] all of them. Every single [song]. But the main one was 'Heat.' I would listen to that first and then start it all over. [Raps in a slurred voice] 'The drama really means nothin' to me/I'll ride by and blow ya brains out/There's no time to c*** it, no way to stop it, when n***** run up on you wit them thangs out,/I do what I gotta do I don't care if I get caught, the DA can...' I was in seventh grade, going into eighth, being bad as hell, listening to that s***."
"It made me go harder in the streets. Really, it was just a street song—50 from the streets. Get Rich or Die Tryin', the title is so strong. It just made everybody go towards it. That's why he named his album that. I bought that CD a million times. It's a classic.
"'Wanksta, '21 Questions.' 'Many Men' just killed it. That's my favorite song. During that G-Unit era, that's all I was really listening to. They just had some good music at that time. He'd just talk big money and he'd be flexing. The way he raps just be flexin. He made himself who he is. Ain't nobody do it for him, you can tell from when he came in until now. That's a classic album. You're always going to listen to it, that's timeless music. I still use that, I just think I'm gonna Get Rich or Die Tryin' the rap game. I'm gonna drop songs every four weeks, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna just keep music out there."
"I was 10 years old. People was talking about it. It’s crazy because n***** was so young, but we knew what he was saying. We knew who he was dissing. I remember. Everybody was on 50 Cent. I remember getting the bootleg from this crab spot by my old hood. I remember bumping that s*** like, Damn, this n**** going hard at Ja Rule. This s*** is crazy. Thing about it, I can understand what he’s saying. He didn’t have some complex rhymes or some lyrical 'pi equals the sky,' it was straight to the point lyrics. I remember the song “Back Down” was my favorite song from the album."
"[I heard that in] the car on 59th and May Street [in Chicago]. I was with my uncle, he had the CD. It was right after it came out—a couple days later. I liked 'Many Men.' That was the hardest song, I liked the beat—that beat [goes] hard. It's been so long, that was like 2003. I was little—maybe 10 or 11 years old."
"50’s rollout was one of the most perfect rollouts in hip-hop. The first video, him introducing Buffy the Body in a Hummer. He had his own apparel. Reeboks and s***. That’s his first album, but it was more like he was a veteran. He knew what he was doing. It was real dope to see.
"It’s crazy that that’s 10 years ago. The sh*t has changed so much. If 50 dropped GRODT now, I don’t know if it’d be received the same way. He had a real story. I was into Fabolous, and Jadakiss, and battle rapping, watching Smack DVDs. But I can tell when I’m hearing those dudes rapping: It’s just for style. They’re trying to be entertainers. But when I heard 50 rap, I’m like, yeah, he actually did shoot that dude. He’s sounding mad gully on the record. That’s what I liked about him the most. Like, I actually believe this guy. I didn’t really believe Fabolous.Like, I know you didn’t shoot that dude 33 times like a Bird jersey or something like that.
"50’s sh*t was just realer."
"I was definitely a fan when it came out. 50 was destroying Ja Rule, and that was [my cousin's] favorite rapper at the time. So the fact that 50 came out and he was destroying his favorite rapper...The business plan around the album, you could tell, was all set up perfectly."
Eminem and Dr. Dre and Aftermath had it figured out when it came to hip-hop. It was a great visual, movie-type album for fans. That's why 50 Cent blew up so big off that. It was a great setup, great branding and at the end of the day, 50 Cent knew what fans liked and gave them just that."
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