'I was crazy': 50 Cent on 20 years of 'Get Rich or Die Tryin'

The American rapper is preparing for his massive world tour, probably his last on this scale


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Published: Mon 3 Jul 2023, 12:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Jul 2023, 12:47 PM

As 50 Cent heads out on a world tour marking the 20th anniversary of hip-hop classic Get Rich or Die Tryin', he told AFP it's probably his last on this scale.

"I won't be able to tour like this again. My film and TV production stuff doesn't allow me," said the rapper, who will soon be seen alongside Sylvester Stallone in Expendables 4.

He took "a huge pay cut" to shift from music to TV a decade ago -- most notably with hit show Power -- but saw it as a strategic business decision.

"My audience is older. With my film and TV work I'm speaking to my core audience directly. I don't want to lose them... They made me a success."

50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, turns 48 this week as he prepares to embark on the Final Lap tour across North America, Europe and Australasia, with more dates due to be added in Asia and beyond.

It has already sold more than 600,000 tickets, which the ever-modest "Fiddy" says with a chuckle "would be impressive for other guys, but I'm 50 Cent".

The one thing that could lure him back after this would be if his old mentors -- Eminem and Dr. Dre -- came with him.

"If I could get Em and Dre out the house, that would get me back touring but I don't think that'll happen," he said.

'Wouldn't stop growing'

Launched in February 2003, his debut was one of the fastest selling records of all time, boosted by a colourful backstory of true-life gangsterism, including time in prison and an attempted assassination in which he was shot nine times.

Debut single In Da Club is still a huge hit thanks to its evergreen refrain, "Hey, Shorty, it's your birthday".

And the rapper is still 114th on Spotify's worldwide rankings despite not releasing a studio album since 2014.

There was debate over which single to launch at the time, with Dr Dre pushing for If I Can't.

"But I thought, no, we gotta go with 'Go Shorty, it's your birthday'. Because every day is someone's birthday and makes the song relevant again," said Jackson.

"And the shit wouldn't stop growing. I got a plaque now because it's been played a billion times on Spotify. We weren't even listening to shit on Spotify back then."

He remembers the moment, sitting on a tour bus heading for Washington DC, when he heard that the album had gone past 800,000 sales in the first week.

"At the time I thought if I could pray for just one thing, it was for that record to be a success. But one thing I learned about myself is I just want more wishes," he said, laughing.

"There was so much success and energy it started to feel like I could have whatever I want. The album was called Get Rich or Die Tryin and I was, like, 'No, let me die later. This feels great.'"

All the adulation and partying went to his head, of course.

"If they had clinically tested me at the time, they would have said I was crazy."

'Moving too fast'

Despite the whirlwind of sudden fame, Jackson parlayed the success into a mini-empire, creating clothing lines, video games, health foods and fragrances -- as well as his own high-end champagne and cognac.

The latter recently landed him in some bother with Remy Martin, who sued him for allegedly copying their bottle.

"They felt I was moving too fast, so they put some pressure on me," he said.

"They picked the wrong guy because I spend a million dollars a year on legal fees anyway -- just for recreational purposes it feels like sometimes."

He has settled the suit and agreed to change the bottle, and adds that his new cognac is up there with Remy Martin's fabled Louis XIII vintage.


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