This first appeared on Complex.com on August 10, 2008.

50 Cent Talks Kanye Sales Battle & MTV’s Hottest MC List

On September 11th, 50 Cent drops Curtis, the artist’s latest shot in living up to his self-proclaimed “Sound-Scan-Killer” status. In this interview with Complex.com, 50 talks about the new album, why he’ll never listen to the suits at Interscope again, Kanye’s chances of competing when their new albums hit stores on the same day, and how he will fuck your life up. Curtisss!

Complex: Alright, so the first two singles, people didn’t really respond to them the way they usually—

50 Cent: (interrupts) They did respond to them. The record spun over 3,000, both of them! It just didn’t feel like 50 Cent, right? See, “I Get Money” is the kind of record—like it’s impacting hard in the club. These are special records. If a brand new record came out and it spun like “Straight to the Bank” or “Amusement Park” from a new artist, they would go, “Wow, he had a great record, this is a great start.” But with 50 Cent, the bar’s been raised so high based on material that I put out to this point, that they’re looking for me to give them something that’s hands down the hottest thing at the time. So, when I return with “I Get Money,” it changes their perception. Both of those records worked.

You went back and recorded 8 more tracks for Curtis, was the decision based on the feedback you were getting from the fans, or yourself, or your peers?

50 Cent: Well it’s just me—I don’t stop recording anyway. Like right now I’m in the studio still recording. After this is done, I’ll be working on material for the new G-Unit album.

Are you happy with the new tracks?

50 Cent: Yeah, well the album itself was right to begin with. It’s a difficult task because I could be more complex than the actual listener. Creatively, I can develop songs that people have to think to actually understand them when, right now, we’re in a climate where “This Is Why I’m Hot” is working. And “Throw Some D’s On It” and “Ay Bay Bay,” and songs that you don’t really have to think much about, it’s just a really catchy song. I could go in and say something else, and you know, I’m really chorus-driven, I’ll go straight to the chorus making a record. And “I Get Money” I didn’t even have to really make a chorus, the chorus was already built into the record. So, I just chilled out and rapped. And they loved that record.

Also, there’s kind of a noticeable difference in the flow, reminiscent of 50 from the earlier years, it almost reminded me of stuff like “Murder, Murder” at times.

50 Cent: You know what it is; it’s the mixtape 50. Initially “I Get Money” was a freestyle. I did the first verse, then I wrote the second verse and I said, “Wait a minute. This is too good for me to just throw it out as if it’s just for the mixtape.” The mixtape will be completed probably this week, in like three or four days. That was material that I was preparing for the tape and it came out so good that I had to keep it. The way the general public embraces their music is the way I have to gauge my hits, so this one right here is runnin’ at the number two spot right behind “In Da Club.” I mean, it could possibly be bigger than “In Da Club” over time, but you know, there are only a few weeks before the album comes.

What’s the pressure like to do well on this album compared to the first two?

50 Cent: It’s the same as both of those projects. There’s a shadow of doubt cast over artists in between every project anyway. They don’t say, “Do you think 50 can make good music?” They say, “Do you think he can do it again?” When we’re in a climate where it may be impossible to do it again. We’re experiencing technology, so people get music the best way they know how. Some of it is from downloading and file sharing and all kinds of other shit that’s going on.

Kanye said he’d rather be number two on the day where everyone cares about hip-hop, how do you feel about that?

50 Cent: I think it makes good sense for Kanye West to keep his date the same as 50 Cent. First I was like, “What is he doing?” like, “It’s gonna kill him.” And then I go, “No, it does make sense.” His record is actually going backwards on the radio right now so—to make people think that there’s a competition between 50 Cent and Kanye West is a great promotion. Because it’s like, “50 Cent, Kanye West who you think is gonna win?” But Kanye should have never said that he would accept [#2]— he already knows that he doesn’t mind being number two because he knows he’s going to be number two. If he would have kept it like it was a challenge, I think his base, his fans would have tried to support it and it would’ve been like, “50 Cent, Kanye West who’s going to win?” That would have made it an even greater promotion.

You think there’s any shot he’ll out sell you?

50 Cent: No.

First week, how many units, do you think you can move?

50 Cent: I’m not sure. I just do—I went from 872 to 822 the second week on Get Rich and 1.14 in 4 days on The Massacre. You’d be number two if you came out the week after.

We’ve heard a mix like pop and street from the singles so far. How balanced is the album?

50 Cent: It’s balanced out. Like, what I didn’t do this time, listening to Interscope, I’ll never listen to Interscope again. Company-wise, I’m just doing what I want to do the rest of my career. They were saying that the mixtape circuit, was hurting sales. And this was at the time where Drama was going through what he was going through, and they trying to go after the mixtapes and everything. Now it’s like I haven’t catered to my initial base, with the type of material that they would want to hear from me, they’re resisting me with the records that would actually work at radio. So, because I didn’t give them a song that felt like “I Get Money,” they were going “Straight to the Bank” and “Amusement Park,” I mean those records are great records. Imagine if I had released “Straight to the Bank” and “Amusement Park” after “I Get Money.” They would have loved both of them.

So now you did the “I Get Money” on your own, the video and everything?

50 Cent: Yeah, I actually directed the video. It’s still mine and I think that it’s more visible that it’s my decisions that are making my career work opposed to what they (Interscope) would provide.

The newest single, “Ayo Technology,” did you have any reservations about doing a collaboration with Justin?

50 Cent: No, I think Justin Timberlake is a huge talent. He’s a great artist and we went in the studio and make a big, hit record. I rapped on “Cry Me A River,” because I thought the record was hot and it just shows how I’ve been following his work and that I’m a fan of his material.

You’re sitting on a nice royalty check from Vitamin Water, how important are investments outside of rap right now?

50 Cent: How important is your check? What happens is the artists are so creative that they forget the reality of it actually being a business. They get creative up until the point that their creativity doesn’t connect with the public anymore, and they’re no longer relevant. And financially they’re somewhere, be it a VH1 special or somewhere fucked up, their money gone. So it’s important to make sure you put yourself in the stable financial space, not just for people who do entertainment period.

Upon releasing your previous albums you’ve had beef with Ja Rule and then Fat Joe with the “Piggy Bank” track, this one not so much—

50 Cent: Because it’s not necessary to sell a CD, beef doesn’t sell music. Hit records like “Disco Inferno” and “Candy Shop” sold the Massacre. “Just A Little Bit,” “Outta Control,” hit records like “In Da Club,” “P.I.M.P.” “21 Questions” sold Get Rich or Die Trying. So, when you get to the position I’m in music, you’re going to be constantly challenged.

What do you think of Ja mounting a comeback during the same time you’re about to release your album?

50 Cent: He’s an idiot, for coming anywhere near a release that I’m coming. His music is garbage, period. You know what destroys a career? When an artist tries to compete with another but can’t withstand his opponents’ consistency. Canabis. Canabis was a talented rapper. But he couldn’t withstand LL’s consistency. That’s how he got shifted and the interest in Canabis got to where about five or six people that would even listen to his CD. You know, so it’s the same shit. Ja Rule and 50 Cent, LL and Canabis.

You mentioned on Flex’s show that Lil’ Wayne kind of “whore’s himself out”—can you expand on it?

50 Cent: In my neighborhood, right, when you hang out with somebody, you cool with them, we say, “You fuckin’ with that person. Like, “Yo, he fucks with homeboy from over here.” And I’m using “whore” as a metaphor for people who fuck with people for money—it’s weird because I’m saying this about a man, if it was a girl who we were calling a whore it would be “Oh, she fucks with this guy for money,” it would be easier for you to understand it. But if you just work with anybody because they giving you the money to work with them, you’re going to destroy your career at some point. And he’s selling at the same time. He’s the guy that makes those records better. He’s the real draw, like they’re gonna get him in order to make themselves look cool a little bit. But, there’s no value in having him because everybody can have him. Anybody. Why the fuck would you want to do a record with Ja Rule right now?

MTV named Lil’ Wayne’s the hottest MC right now, what are your thoughts on that?

MTV can suck my dick.

50 Cent: MTV can suck my dick. It doesn’t matter. I could say whatever I want. If I want to be an asshole, idiot, I could just say whatever I want. You know what I mean, like, I’m just doing this as an example, because I don’t really mean literally MTV could—I could say it, like MTV could say that that’s their favorite artist because that’s one person’s opinion. Whoever they said, “Can you go out and set up this list for us.” That’s their opinion who they put in. They put Game number three when I wrote the three singles that created him. What does that mean? That I’m number 3? Because you’re not into me this week, I get a chance to sit in the number eight spot, but the project that I created is number three.

The Cam’ron situation, was that the easiest rap “feud” you’ve ever had to deal with?

50 Cent: That wasn’t really a rap feud, the boy got punched in the face and we ain’t hear nothing from him since. You know what I mean, that’s like—he jumped out the window, said things to make his crew—and I kept that away from the entire Dipset. I consciously kept it 50 Cent/Cam’ron because I thought he was an idiot for coming out there. I could have made it 50 Cent vs. Dipset, and then when he got punched in the head and he didn’t want talk anymore, they would all look like they got played. But it’s not like that, it’s just the boy Cam’ron puts himself into positions that he can’t actually handle being in.

You’re very outspoken, about you and Ciara after the video obviously there was a lot of speculation, can you expand on anything going on?

50 Cent: We just made a great song and video. I don’t really have nothing to tell you.

Then you have Miss Info saying…

50 Cent: Miss Info will tell you all kinds of things, they’ll be some truth to what she’s saying, because like, I’m looking for property in Atlanta, but what does that have to do with anything else?

What’s the deal with Atlanta? Are you just feeling it now or sick of NY?

50 Cent: I’ve been out there. I like it. It doesn’t mean I’m moving to Atlanta as my space. But, I’ll buy a home out there.

Where do you see yourself in two years?

50 Cent: I might have to take break and reevaluate what I want to actually do.

From rap and movies or what?

50 Cent: Yeah, because I mean, I got so much shit going on at the same time, it’s difficult for you to make a decision and it’s like, they’re ain’t no break. I haven’t been on vacation. I haven’t been on vacation since I started. I need to just chill out a little bit and figure out what I want to do. It bugged me out because I couldn’t make comparisons to myself and people that were ahead of me, it would’ve been okay and I didn’t know that. I could wait for people who I don’t like and getting ready to come out and go, “You know what? I’m dropping my album on that day.” I’m a follow their ass around with my next CD. That’s what we’re going to do. We gonna keep moving the date, next to somebody I don’t like, so I could just fuck up their life.

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Joe La Puma is currently the Director of Content Strategy at Complex Media, handling big idea generation and execution along with the social networking of Complex's content. He's conducted cover stories with everyone from Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to Rick Ross and Kid Cudi.
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