I never wanted to be around 50 Cent. Never wanted to be anywhere in the vicinity of someone so hated and utterly loathed that hits were out on his head because of a smug don’t-give-a-fuck outlook on life. Because of his oversized tendency toward braggadocio. And his regular need to show off the remote control length measurements of his dick size, through rob-a-negro rhymes, 50’s irksome personality and worldwide success made niggers, literal ones with both an “er” and “a” at the end, want to kill him. He attracted the kind of cold-blooded murderers that’ll smile in your face, pull up to your grandmother’s home, and pop shots nine times collapsing lungs and leaving bullet fragments lodged in tongues for life. This is what happened to 50, a traumatic event that for obvious reason made him so conscious of a lack of safety and personal mortality that he felt the need to outfit his 6-year-old son in a bulletproof vest.
Controversial rapper 50 CENT is so paranoid about being the target of gun fire, he always ensures his son wears a bulletproof vest when they're together. The IN DA CLUB star has taken the drastic measures to protect his son MARQUIS after an attempt on his own life in 2000, which resulted in the then drug dealer being shot nine times. He says, "I love my boy. I got him a bulletproof vest too. I figure if I've got to wear one and he's with me, he's more important than I am."
01/10/2003 21:04 – Contact Music
Even during my days of working as a radio personality on New York’s Hot 97, home of multiple, infamous rapper shootouts (Lil Kim, The Game, Gravy); I was unlike my colleagues. While coworkers would excitedly buzz that 50 Cent was coming in for an interview with Angie Martinez, the hallways near the DJ booth would suddenly become crowded. Business folk from the cubicle world in the back, would find reasons to casually linger at the front of the station, obviously awaiting the arrival of the current king of hip hop. But while everyone else hung around waiting for 50’s entrance, I moved as fast as I could to exit the building and head back to Bed-Stuy with one thought in mind, “Why would anyone want to be around someone whose life is in so much danger that he has to wear and put a bulletproof vest on his child?”
I’d think this while skipping through tracks on his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin, stopping to sing-along to songs I liked such as “In da Club,” “21 Questions,” "If I Can't" and one of my favorites, “What Up Gangsta.”
They say I walk around like I got an S on my chest
No that’s a semi-automatic and a vest on chest
Ironic. But just because I liked the laid back feel and easy smooth ways he causally maneuvered through a violent, bumpy beat, didn’t mean I wanted to be around him at a concert, album release party, or radio station known for gun shots. So I listened to Angie’s interview, from the safety of my home, as he explained whatever latest beef and drama he was caught in at the time.
Sitting at a press junket for the Starz show, Power, a new drama that tells the story of a New York drug dealer/club owner working to balance his family at home with an operation on the streets, the show’s executive producer Curtis Jackson walks in.
At first glance, he looks like typical 50 Cent. His oversized, golden Rolex with diamonds glisten to the tick of each second. Uniformed in standard, stereotypical, hip hop fashion, a medallion hangs from the neck, his baseball cap tilts to the side, crisp green, Uptown sneakers, match the green and white colors broken up with a black executive blazer.
His first words sound like typical 50. With a trademark slur from a bullet wound to the jaw, at times it's hard to hear and understand what he's saying. I push the recorder closer to get as many syllables on record as possible. He grabs and pulls it toward him, like a rapper maneuvering a mic.
This is your first real time being an executive producer of a major TV production. What’s been the biggest learning experience?
"The process of executive producer is cool. Also, I’ll add there’s a longer list of people connected to the executive production, six or seven names and two people working,” he says, drawing laughs from those in the room. “So it’s a lot of the actual day-to-day things, the things that actual take place.”
“When we first met he gave me this big hug,” says actor Joseph Sikora, who plays co-star Tommy Egan on Power. “And I think men typically have this thing like, ‘Prove yourself to me. What do you got? I’m 50 Cent. Where you at?’ And he didn’t bring an iota of that kind of male aggression. And that’s somebody who’s very comfortable.”
“Which is ironic,” adds Omari Hardwick, who plays the lead role in Power as James “Ghost” St. Patrick, “cause he’s made money being…”
“The other guy,” Sikora says, finishing Hardwick’s sentence. “So that image that people [see] it’s obviously in there. He can turn it on. In the show, he does an incredible job being scary. It’s very much close to his skin and he can utilize it if he needs it. But he’s an incredibly generous humble and collaborative man. And I guess how much and how extreme that is, I was pleasantly surprised.”
Picking up where Sikora left off, Omari pauses thoughtfully and says, “I definitely found equally the amount of surprise in how active he was in not just being a name. He’s very hands on. And I probably didn’t consider that would be the reality of who he was to us and to this project,” Hardwick admits. “And maybe those were some of my concerns early on when I first got the script before saying, ‘yes.’ Well, how hands on is he gonna be? Is it just a name? So his presence on the set, on the phone and being around was huge for us and that was a pleasant surprise.”
The realization has set in: 50 Cent seems to exist as an exaggerated role and overly aggressive character. While Curtis is different, the business savvy investor involved in everything from Vitamin Water to headphones. Always the creative, his acting and appearances in movies like Righteous Kill (2008) with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, and Home of the Brave (2006) with Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Biel, have led to his natural artistic progression toward producing Power.
Created and written by a sista, The Good Wife’s Courtney Kemp Agboh, Power's story is inspired by the world that created 50 Cent and influenced the man that Curtis Jackson is today.
“People’s circumstances put people in circumstance that they don’t necessarily want,” he says. “At that point, it could have just been stay where you’re at and figure it out, instead of making the decision. And you made the decision of going with what was available at the moment.”
“And it’s interesting, because through this process I have noticed that some people will come in and talk to 50 Cent the rapper,” says Agboh, Power’s Showrunner. “And I’m like, do you not know all the other things he is? Was he not just on ESPN talking about boxing? Was he not just on QVC talking about headphones? Is he not just releasing an album? Are you not looking at the whole picture? Is that a Vitamin Water in your hand? Are you drinking Street King? Like, this is a complex individual that is all of these things.”
True. He’s one that has learned how to masterfully waver back and forth between the personas of his born and stage name. Curtis now does it so successfully, that if you look carefully it seems like a game. Playing the publicity card of knowing the press’ thirsty need and hungry addiction to publish and air sensational news and gossip, when Jackson is in 50 mode, he will answer any question and say anything, no matter how politically incorrect or idiotic off the top of his head. Because of this, he’s created a reputation for speaking his truth, one which makes him adept at knowing how to create a buzz through controversy that helps market and sell his products by using media types fiending for ratings, page views, Facebook likes and Twitter followers.
In the two-week span leading up to the June 3 release of his latest album, Animal Ambition, 50 Cent has made headlines in every medium. From throwing a wimpy cross-eyed looking opening pitch at a Mets game, to commenting on how Beyonce’ confronted him in Vegas over Jay Z, to dropping a new G-Unit single and announcing the group’s upcoming project. This all happens to coincide with the debut of his show, Power, June 7 on Starz.
A picture from his recent performance at Hot 97’s Summer Jam concert and festival, showed 50 wearing a blue Michael Jackson-like “Beat It” jacket. He stood mugging next to members of G-Unit, as they hit the stage with too many in the entourage fighting for microphone time and video monitor space.
How do you do all this?
Curtis: I do it ‘cause I love it!
He makes this quote loud, smiling, and damn near yelling like an excited project kid in a candy shop. But that’s the thing about music, performing, and being on stage. That microphone in your hand can be addictive. The immediate rush of the crowd’s applause soaks inside and moistens the body like a warm loving hug. The haze gives a fuzzy, lovey, opium-like feeling that can swell the head to a narcissistic size. It'll create an ego driven by a subconscious need for gratification and attention. The bigger the return, the worse the need for more. And after years of this ongoing adrenaline junkie lifestyle, it becomes an addiction that can be hard to escape. Say like, drug dealing.
“The difference in people that choose that lifestyle is the streak,” says Jackson, 38, breaking it down. “It just gets wider and wider the longer you live by not following somebody else’s rules. Law enforcement. Anyone. Every day they got more than $40 worth of product on them they’re committing a felony. So every day that you commit a felony for Lord knows how many years?”
It makes a life habit harder to leave – whether superstar, drug dealer, or both. This latter side is the world of Ghost, the lead character in Power. A mixture of both Jackson’s and Agboh’s backgrounds, Ghost is written into a layered protagonist that was almost played by Jackson. But the idea was canned, in lieu of a smaller role, because of his cluttered schedule.
“All TV shows and all stories that imitate life are about choices,” he says. “It’s about people’s choices. And sometimes circumstances lead two people into a same space that are completely different. You know you have some brothers that stand on the corner that enjoy the aggressive or violent part of the experience. And then you have guys that are standing there, ‘cause they don’t see Burger King or McDonald’s as sufficient [income]. The whole thing is to earn enough to not have to be a part of it anymore. Cause the cycle you see is consistent with sending you to jail or sending you to a grave.”
Today, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is further from the grave than he was in 2003. More humble, calm, and universally likeable than he has ever been in his career, Curtis has found a comfortable and skilled balancing act in controlling two worlds. Playing the role of rapper for fun, it's like a man cave studio hobby he may never give up. Focusing more on the Hollywood executive side – he's now got a grown man style with pants pulled up, blazer on, reading scripts, watching footage, and taking part in the day-to-day tasks needed to make a successful TV show. Curtis embraces his newest Executive Producer title and mature evolution in life with a determination to make it work and succeed by any means necessary.
“I mean it’s Courtney’s baby. But I was there when she made it. I was there during the whole process,” he says. “I almost can’t see the obstacles anymore. I’m almost so far from where I actually come from… And I don’t particularly know a lot. I get it. They give it to me. I’m not saying you tell me, ‘no’ and I’m nodding my head. Like they can tell me, ‘no.’ But I’m like, ‘It’s definitely going to happen. Whether you do it or not.’”