So by now you’re aware that the 50 Cent of today isn’t the 50 Cent of 2003. Or is he? The “aggressive content” is still there, the issues with other rappers are still there, and the hunger to get rich or die tryin’ is definitely still there. But while there’s a the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same feel to it all, there are notable differences between Curtis Jacksons past and present.
He just did a New York reunion show at Governor’s Island where he embraced Jadakiss (whom he’s had problems with in the past), he hasn’t flown off the handle about his placement on the MTV list like he two years ago—and yesterday, as we sat down with 50 Cent in his unfinished new office, his answers to our questions seemed more methodical than ever. While he preps to release his oft-delayed album Before I Self Destruct on November 23, we spoke to 50 about possible tension with Dre, Fat Joe’s first-week sales, pulling a gun on Diddy, and how he reallyfeels about Jay-Z’s “no one is scared of 50 Cent” comment. Yup, some things will never change…
Complex: Okay, as far as the the new album, we’ve heard a radio-friendly single with Ne-Yo, but you also have gritty tracks like “Flight 187″….
50 Cent: “Flight 187″ is a bonus track, it’s not on the album. I started the project, and I wrote exactly what I wanted on it, and then I thought out the actual singles at the very end. The album changed, because there was a time period around December of last year, that I was ready to put my record out and I was a little anxious. I usually release on schedule; it’s usually a two-year cycle for me before I release a record. In December, I put out the “Get Up” record, and then Interscope had a transition, like the entire music business did. So the majority of the delays of this project have been readjustments to what’s actually going on, not [because] the material wasn’t up to par or completed. There’s been a transition that we experience in technology—for instance, right now we’re talking to Complex.com instead of Complex magazine. That right there shows you that things are totally changing around. Instead of fighting things, I embrace them.
Complex: So that’s the big difference between you and those artists?
50: The way I responded to the financial stability, it comes with being successful as an artist. My interests reflect on the struggle and how far I’ve came, versus indulging in how great it is where I’m at now. A lot of these artists write “I’m rich,” the coolest shit about being rich, “I’m at the clearport, I’m doing this, I’m doing that.” They aspire to write about luxury and to excite an audience and the demographic that comes from where they come from, saying “I want to be like him.” I write material that makes [the listener] feel like he’s like me. The guys on the corner can relate to 50 Cent in a different way because they knows that I’ve had the same experience and I’ll be inspiring to them. I’ll write the things they’re not willing to say because they think it affects their “cool factor” to the point where they feel like it puts them in the box.
I’ll write the things they’re not willing to say because they think it affects their “cool factor” to the point where they feel like it puts them in the box.
Complex: People said that Blueprint 3 came off very braggadocious, just like you alluded to—Jay bragging about the stuff he has.
50: But that’s a career trait. That’s a style. The choice that he’s made as an artist. He’s done that his entire career. He felt he could shift trends with the things he’s actually saying. I mean, it’s cool, it’s an option to write that when you’re that successful. I just feel like writing imperfection instead of creating a superhero is interesting. I’ll write the things they’re not willing to say because they think it affects their “cool factor” to the point where they feel like it puts them in the box. They’re limited to what they can say and do. I don’t give a fuck. I can say and do what I want. So I write those defective characters.
Complex: So you had the big “50 Fest” show in New York recently, where you reunited with a lot of artists. Seems like that was a big step for you. Is that part of the maturation process?
50 Cent: Well, for me the New York show was an opportunity. It was actually branched revenue for Thisis50.com. And at the same time, an opportunity for me to work with artists and have them seen in the same light. There’s no middle ground in hip-hop. It’s either you’re rocking arenas or you’re getting top dollar, getting money out a nightclub. You can’t really get more than that $75,000 threshold, that’s really it in the nightclub circuit.
Complex: You originally had problems with Jadakiss because he did a song with Ja Rule. How would you feel if, after this concert, he went out and did a song with someone like Rick Ross?
50 Cent: You know what? Check this out. I have an issue with anyone who’s trying to keep someone who I deem my enemy in a good position. Where I’m from, if you have an issue with one guy and someone keeps standing next to them, just hit him too. Just kill him too. It’s just the way I use my gut. I use my moral compass to tell me when to go in on somebody. I dealt with that, it doesn’t make sense for me to continue to beat that dead horse. When the artist that I intended to destroy has completely been destroyed, why would I be bothering him? I could tell you as soon as I wrote “Piggy Bank” what was going to happen.
Complex: How so?
50 Cent: I knew Fat Joe’s pride would bring him out first, even if he wasn’t in the position to win. And he would go and go and go because he has the tough-guy aura. He’s tougher in his head than he is in reality, as far as his Don Cartagena shit is concerned. It feels great because everybody’s paying attention to them and talking on the radio about them. Mind you, while they’re going out and doing all of this talking, I’m just chilling. I’ll send them out like they’re a rap fan so they can market me. So everywhere they go, nobody cares about your record or what you’re doing. The number one question is “So what’s up with you and 50?” They’re not smart enough to come up with a new disrespectful way to talk to me because I’ve heard everything you could fucking think of. Then I move away because I’m competing with another artist, and the spotlight moves with me because I’m actually creating the material and generating the interest. So when I move to do that, you’re in darkness…to the point where you drop your album sales to 8,000 copies.
Complex: Were you surprised that Fat Joe only sold that many his first week?
50 Cent: Well, I have 8,000 friends. So that’s extremely low.
Complex: It’s very low…
50 Cent: Watch this. Want a prediction from me? I’ll tell you what a psychic told me. Triple Cs is next. And then Rick Ross is going to follow that failure. Def Jam dumped a whole lot of marketing dollars into trying combat me with Rick Ross. More money than they should have. What his numbers were versus what Jadakiss did, didn’t make financial sense. So the next go-around, they’re going to give him his fair share instead that extra piece of pie. Then you’re going to see where he really is.
Complex: You told people not to hold their breath about a collaboration with The Game. Are there still real issues with him?
50 Cent: I really don’t know Game. I worked with the kid for six days. I have bigger issues with the actual system, the company, people who work in it. Initially, people would be like, “Yo, we know you wrote the fucking records! You think we give a fuck about that?” Game built this thing on the West Coast, they desperately needed him to come out—they didn’t have anybody since Snoop. That’s what made it a good business opportunity to begin with. But I had to make sacrifices in order to have Dre put the record out, the same way they waited eight years for Dre to put his album out. There’s no tension.There will never be a beef between 50 Cent and Dre.
There will never be a beef between 50 Cent and Dre.
Complex: Is there tension between you and Dre?
50 Cent: There’s no tension. There will never be a beef between 50 Cent and Dre. And it’s not based on 50 and Dre’s relationship, it’s based on Eminem and Dre’s relationship. My relationship with Em is what Em’s relationship is to Dre. If I was to say something disrespectful to Dre, it would effect Em and I value that relationship too much. So I won’t say anything, I’ll never say anything negative about Dre.
Complex: Does it bother you that it can take Dre so long to mix your records?
50 Cent: Oh no, that’s just him as a producer. He takes his time. He loses interest in shit. I don’t care how great you are. He’s great, but he loses interest in himself at points. So the making of the record at this point is motivation. He’ll tell you himself that that’s what he feels.