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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
12/4/2003 7:47:12 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include 50 Cent.

He’s got a thing for that Gucci, that Fendi, that Prada, but 50 Cent’s street knowledge keeps him grounded. BEN PARKER reports. 

Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, is not only the most controversial figure in hip hop in 2003, he is the biggest selling.

50’s debut album for Eminem’s label Shady Records, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, has sold nine million copies worldwide.

Yet, 50 insists on keeping it real. “There is a line from In Da Club where I say: ‘Got a mill from the deal, but I’m still on the ground.’ And it’s true,” he says.

“Financially, I was in a good place before Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ even went on sale. But it was never about money, or jewellery, or the flashy things.

“I just wanted to say how hard it was for me to get to where I am at now.”

And right-about-now, 50 Cent is hip hop’s brightest star: constantly name-checked by his peers, always asked to throw down a guest spot verse with rap’s A-list, and forever analysed by media commentators.

There are obvious reasons why -- not the least that Jackson’s real life story is authentic gangsta: drug riddled and peppered with gunfire.

Jackson was born into a drug selling dynasty. His mother Sabrina was a hustler.

She was murdered before Jackson was eight. Jackson lived with his grandparents, but started hustling when he was 12.

Even today, 50 says if he wasn’t in the rap game, he’d be hustling.

“Some people are out there doing the wrong thing and enjoying it,” 50 says.

“That is something that was a part of my character. I wouldn’t have done those things if I had options. That is clear to me now.

“But, bottom line: I will provide for myself by any means necessary if I’m starving. And it was the only way to provide for myself ahead of music. Until I was going to make music for a living, I hustled.

“Maybe if I was blessed with the opportunities of coming into the world with something else, that would have generated my interests in another direction.

“But I didn’t have those options.”

Jackson was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in 1994. He served seven months of a three year sentence in juvenile detention. That time in lockdown forced a re-think about his life.

He returned to the streets intent to hustle something else: hip hop.

50 Cent signed to Columbia Records, but he was swiftly dropped by the label after an incident, three years ago, in which he was shot nine times.

Jackson was a back seat car passenger when, on one cold night in May, 2000, he took nine bullets. He refuses to speculate on the gunman.

He says he will never forget each shot ringing out, then hitting him. It also proved to be another life-changing incident. 50 knew he had to up the ante with his rhymes, and elevate himself above a tenuous life-or-death existence.

“That paranoia stays with you: that it’s possible that it will happen again. That is why I take precautions. I travel in a bulletproof car and I wear a bulletproof vest, always.

“It’s all good,” 50 Cent says.

The memory of slain rappers, TupacShakur (2Pac) and Christopher Wallace (The Notorious

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