"Curtis Jackson" redirects here. For other uses, see Curtis Jackson (disambiguation).
50 Cent in 2018
Curtis James Jackson III
July 6, 1975 (age 46)
Jam Master Jay
Sha Money XL
Curtis James Jackson III (born July 6, 1975), known professionally as 50 Cent, is an American rapper, actor and entrepreneur. Known for his impact in the hip hop industry, he has been described as a "master of the nuanced art of lyrical brevity".
Born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, Jackson began selling drugs at age 12 during the 1980s crack epidemic. He later began pursuing a musical career, and in 2000 he produced Power of the Dollar for Columbia Records; however, days before the planned release, he was shot, and the album was never released. In 2002, after 50 Cent released the mixtape Guess Who's Back?, he was discovered by Eminem and signed to Shady Records, under the aegis of Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records.
With the aid of Eminem and Dr. Dre (who produced his first major-label album Get Rich or Die Tryin'), 50 Cent became one of the world's best selling rappers and rose to prominence as de facto leader of East Coast hip hop group G-Unit. In 2003, he founded G-Unit Records, signing his G-Unit associates Young Buck, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. 50 Cent had similar commercial and critical success with his second album, The Massacre, which was released in 2005. He underwent musical changes by his fifth album, Animal Ambition (2014), and is currently working on his sixth studio album. He executive-produced and starred in the television series Power (2014–2020) and is slated to produce its spin-offs.
50 Cent has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and won several awards, including a Grammy Award, thirteen Billboard Music Awards, six World Music Awards, three American Music Awards and four BET Awards. As an actor, Jackson appeared in the semi-autobiographical film Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005), the war film Home of the Brave (2006), and the crime thriller film Righteous Kill (2008). 50 Cent was ranked the sixth-best artist of the 2000s and the third-best rapper (behind Eminem and Nelly) by Billboard. Rolling Stone ranked Get Rich or Die Tryin' and "In da Club" in its lists of the "100 Best Albums of the 2000s" and "100 Best Songs of the 2000s" at numbers 37 and 13, respectively.
1 Early life
2.1 1996–2002: Rise to fame, shooting, and early mixtapes
2.2 2002–2007: Mainstream breakthrough, Get Rich or Die Tryin', and The Massacre
2.3 2007–2010: Curtis, sales battle with Kanye West, and Before I Self Destruct
2.4 2010–2015: New musical directions, new business ventures, and Animal Ambition
2.5 2015–present: Street King Immortal, bankruptcy, and departure from Interscope
4 Business ventures
4.2 Mining and heavy metals
4.3 Boxing promotion
4.4 Corporate positions
5 Personal life
5.1 Legal issues, Drugs and assault convictions
5.2.1 Use of image
5.2.2 Use of name
5.2.3 Janitor incident
5.2.4 Bamba sample
5.3 Other civil and criminal matters
6.1 Ja Rule
6.2 The Game
6.4 Rick Ross
7 Awards and nominations
9.3 Video games
11 External links
Jackson was born in the borough of Queens, New York City, and raised in its South Jamaica neighborhood by his mother Sabrina. A drug dealer, Sabrina raised Jackson until she died in a fire when Jackson was 8. Jackson revealed in an interview that his mother was a lesbian. After his mother's death and his father's departure, Jackson was raised by his grandmother.
He began boxing at about age 11, and when he was 14, a neighbor opened a boxing gym for local youth. "When I wasn't killing time in school, I was sparring in the gym or selling crack on the strip," Jackson remembered. He sold crack during primary school. "I was competitive in the ring and hip-hop is competitive too ... I think rappers condition themselves like boxers, so they all kind of feel like they're the champ."
At age 12, Jackson began dealing narcotics when his grandparents thought he was in after-school programs and brought guns and drug money to school. In the tenth grade, he was caught by metal detectors at Andrew Jackson High School: "I was embarrassed that I got arrested like that ... After I got arrested I stopped hiding it. I was telling my grandmother [openly], 'I sell drugs.'"
His mugshot in 1994
On June 29, 1994, Jackson was arrested for selling four vials of cocaine to an undercover police officer. He was arrested again three weeks later, when police searched his home and found heroin, ten ounces of crack cocaine, and a starting pistol. Although Jackson was sentenced to three to nine years in prison, he served six months in a boot camp and earned his GED. He has said that he did not use cocaine himself. Jackson adopted the nickname "50 Cent" as a metaphor for change. The name was inspired by Kelvin Martin, a 1980s Brooklyn robber known as "50 Cent"; Jackson chose it "because it says everything I want it to say. I'm the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means."
1996–2002: Rise to fame, shooting, and early mixtapes
Jackson began rapping in a friend's basement, where he used turntables to record over instrumentals. In 1996, a friend introduced him to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, who was establishing Jam Master Jay Records. Jay taught him how to count bars, write choruses, structure songs, and make records. Jackson's first appearance was on "React" with Onyx, for their 1998 album Shut 'Em Down. He credited Jam Master Jay for improving his ability to write hooks, and Jay produced Jackson's first (unreleased) album. In 1999, after Jackson left Jam Master Jay, the platinum-selling producers Trackmasters signed him to Columbia Records. They sent him to an upstate New York studio, where he produced thirty-six songs in two weeks; eighteen were included on his 2000 album, Power of the Dollar. Jackson founded Hollow Point Entertainment with former G-Unit member Bang 'Em Smurf.
Jackson's popularity began to grow after the successful, controversial underground single "How to Rob", which he wrote in a half-hour car ride to a studio. The track comically describes how he would rob famous artists. Jackson explained the song's rationale: "There's a hundred artists on that label, you gotta separate yourself from that group and make yourself relevant". Rappers Jay-Z, Kurupt, Sticky Fingaz, Big Pun, DMX, Wyclef Jean, and the Wu-Tang Clan responded to the track, and Nas invited Jackson to join him on his Nastradamus tour. Although "How to Rob" was intended to be released with "Thug Love" (with Destiny's Child), two days before he was scheduled to film the "Thug Love" music video, Jackson was shot and hospitalized.
On May 24, 2000, Jackson was attacked by a gunman outside his grandmother's former home in South Jamaica. After getting into a friend's car, he was asked to return to the house to get some jewelry; his son was in the house, and his grandmother was in the front yard. Jackson returned to the back seat of the car, and another car pulled up nearby; an assailant walked up and fired nine shots at close range with a 9mm handgun. Jackson was shot in the hand, arm, hip, both legs, chest, and left cheek. His facial wound resulted in a swollen tongue, the loss of a wisdom tooth and a slightly slurred voice; his friend was wounded in the hand. They were driven to a hospital, where Jackson spent thirteen days. The alleged attacker, Darryl Baum, Mike Tyson's close friend and bodyguard, was killed three weeks later.
Jackson recalled the shooting: "It happens so fast that you don't even get a chance to shoot back .... I was scared the whole time ... I was looking in the rear-view mirror like, 'Oh shit, somebody shot me in the face! It burns, burns, burns.'" In his autobiography, From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens, he wrote: "After I got shot nine times at close range and didn't die, I started to think that I must have a purpose in life ... How much more damage could that shell have done? Give me an inch in this direction or that one, and I'm gone". Jackson used a walker for six weeks and fully recovered after five months. When he left the hospital he stayed in the Poconos with his girlfriend and son, and his workout regime helped him develop a muscular physique.
In the hospital Jackson signed a publishing deal with Columbia Records before he was dropped from the label and blacklisted by the recording industry because of his song, "Ghetto Qu'ran". Unable to work in a U.S. studio, he went to Canada. With business partner Sha Money XL, Jackson recorded over thirty songs for mixtapes to build a reputation. In a HitQuarters interview, Marc Labelle of Shady Records A&R said that Jackson used the mixtape circuit to his advantage: "He took all the hottest beats from every artist and flipped them with better hooks. They then got into all the markets on the mixtapes and all the mixtape DJs were messing with them." Jackson's popularity increased, and in 2002 he released the mixtape Guess Who's Back?. He then released 50 Cent Is the Future backed by G-Unit, a mixtape revisiting material by Jay-Z and Raphael Saadiq.
2002–2007: Mainstream breakthrough, Get Rich or Die Tryin', and The Massacre
50 Cent in 2006
In 2002, Eminem heard Jackson's Guess Who's Back? CD, received from Jackson's attorney (who was working with Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg). Impressed, Eminem invited Jackson to fly to Los Angeles and introduced him to Dr. Dre. After signing a $1 million record deal, Jackson released No Mercy, No Fear. The mixtape featured one new track, "Wanksta", which appeared on Eminem's 8 Mile soundtrack. Jackson was also signed by Chris Lighty's Violator Management and Sha Money XL's Money Management Group.
50 Cent released his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin' (described by AllMusic as "probably the most hyped debut album by a rap artist in about a decade"), in February 2003. Rolling Stone noted its "dark synth grooves, buzzy keyboards and a persistently funky bounce", with Jackson complementing the production in "an unflappable, laid-back flow". It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 872,000 copies in its first four days. The lead single, "In da Club" (noted by The Source for its "blaring horns, funky organs, guitar riffs and sparse hand claps"), set a Billboard record as the most listened-to song in radio history within a week.
Interscope gave Jackson his own label, G-Unit Records, in 2003. He signed Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck as members of G-Unit, and The Game was later signed in a joint venture with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. In March 2005, 50 Cent's second commercial album, The Massacre, sold 1.14 million copies in its first four days (the highest in an abbreviated sales cycle) and was number one on the Billboard 200 for six weeks. He was the first solo artist with three singles in the Billboard top five in the same week with "Candy Shop", "Disco Inferno" and "How We Do". According to Rolling Stone, "50's secret weapon is his singing voice - the deceptively amateur-sounding tenor croon that he deploys on almost every chorus".
After The Game's departure Jackson signed Olivia and rap veterans Mobb Deep to G-Unit Records, with Spider Loc, M.O.P., 40 Glocc and Young Hot Rod later joining the label, who all eventually departed the label. Jackson expressed an interest in working with rappers other than G-Unit, such as Lil' Scrappy of BME, LL Cool J of Def Jam, Mase of Bad Boy and Freeway of Roc-A-Fella, and recorded with several.
2007–2010: Curtis, sales battle with Kanye West, and Before I Self Destruct
In September 2007, 50 Cent released his third album, Curtis, which was inspired by his life before Get Rich or Die Tryin'. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 691,000 copies during its first week. It sold behind Kanye West's Graduation, released the same day; the outcome of this highly-publicized sales battle between Jackson and West has been accredited to the commercial decline of the gangsta rap and "bling era" style that previously dominated mainstream hip-hop.
On the September 10, 2008 episode of Total Request Live, Jackson said his fourth studio album, Before I Self Destruct, would be "done and released in November". He released "Ok, You're Right", produced by Dr. Dre for Before I Self Destruct, on May 18, 2009 and was scheduled to appear in a fall 2009 episode of VH1's Behind the Music. On September 3, 2009, Jackson posted a video  for the Soundkillers' Phoenix- produced track, "Flight 187", introducing his mixtape and book (The 50th Law). The song, with lyrics inspiring speculation about tension between Jackson and Jay-Z, was a bonus track on the iTunes version of Before I Self Destruct. Before I Self Destruct was released on November 9, 2009.
2010–2015: New musical directions, new business ventures, and Animal Ambition
In a Contactmusic.com interview, Jackson said he was working on a Eurodance album, Black Magic, inspired by European nightclubs: "First they played hip-hop which suddenly changed to uptempo songs, known as Eurodance". He later said he had changed his next album to The Return of the Heartless Monster after writing different material when he returned home from the Invitation Tour in 2010, shelving Black Magic. On September 3, Jackson supported Eminem on his and Jay-Z's The Home & Home Tour, performing "Crack A Bottle" with Eminem and Dr. Dre amid rumors of tension between Jackson and Dre.
He "recorded 20 songs to a whole different album concept" before putting them aside, wanting his new album to have the "aggression" of Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Jackson tweeted that the album was "80 percent done" and fans could expect it in the summer of 2011. It was ultimately delayed a year due to disagreements with Interscope Records, with Jackson saying that he would release it in November 2011 with a different title than Black Magic. Eminem would appear on the album, and Jackson said he was working with new producers such as Boi-1da and Alex da Kid. Cardiak, who produced Lloyd Banks' "Start It Up", confirmed that he produced a song for the upcoming album.
50 Cent performing in 2011
Jackson released a song, "Outlaw", from his fifth album on the Internet on June 16, 2011. The single, produced by Cardiak, was released on iTunes on July 19 (although Jackson tweeted that it was not the album's first single). The rapper planned to write a semi-autobiographical young-adult novel about bullying, different from his previous books which focused on his life and the rules of power. According to the book's publisher, the first-person novel (about a 13-year-old schoolyard bully "who finds redemption as he faces what he's done") was scheduled for publication in January 2012.
In a series of tweets, Jackson said that the delay of his fifth album was due to disagreements with Interscope Records, later suggesting that it would be released in November 2011 with his headphone line (SMS by 50). He speculated to MTV News about not renewing his five-album contract with Interscope: "I don't know ... It will all be clear in the negotiations following me turning this actual album in. And, of course, the performance and how they actually treat the work will determine whether you still want to stay in that position or not."
On June 20, 2011, Jackson announced the release of Before I Self Destruct II after his fifth album. Although he planned to shoot a music video for the fifth album's lead single, "I'm On It", on June 26 the video was never filmed. Jackson told Shade45, "I did four songs in Detroit with Eminem. I did two with Just Blaze, a Boi-1da joint, and I did something with Alex da Kid. We made two that are definite singles and the other two are the kinds of records that we been making, more aimed at my core audience, more aggressive, more of a different kind of energy to it." He released "Street King Energy Track #7" in September 2011 to promote Street King, his charity-based energy drink. An announcement that Jackson was shooting a music video for "Girls Go Wild", the fifth-album lead single featuring Jeremih, was made on September 28, 2011.
Jackson's fifth album, Street King Immortal, was initially scheduled for a summer 2012 release and postponed until November 13. Disagreements with Interscope Records about its release and promotion led to its temporary cancellation. Its first promo single, "New Day" with Dr. Dre and Alicia Keys, was released on July 27. The song was produced by Dr. Dre, mixed by Eminem and written by 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Royce da 5'9" and Dr. Dre. A solo version by Keys was leaked by her husband, Swizz Beatz. "My Life", the album's second promo single (with Eminem and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine), was released on November 26, 2012.
In January 2014, Jackson said he planned to release Animal Ambition in the first quarter of the year, followed by Street King Immortal. On February 20, he left Shady Records, Aftermath Entertainment, and Interscope, signing with Caroline and Capitol Music Group. According to Jackson, although he owed Interscope another album, he was released from his contract because of his friendship with Eminem and Dr. Dre: "I'm a special case and situation. It's also because of the leverage of having the strong relationships with Eminem and Dr. Dre. They don't want me to be uncomfortable. They value our friendship to the point that they would never want [to jeopardize] it over that little bit of money."
That day, he announced that Animal Ambition would be released on June 3 and released its first track. The song, "Funeral", was released with a video on Forbes.com. Produced by Jake One, it is a continuation of "50 Bars" from a previous album; two more tracks were scheduled for release on March 18. At South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Jackson performed "Hold On" from the new album. That song and "Don't Worry 'Bout It" were released with accompanying videos on March 18. According to Jackson, prosperity would be a theme of the album: "This project, I had to search for a concept, a really good concept, in my perspective, and that was prosperity. I outlined all the things that would be a part of prosperity, positive and negative [for Animal Ambition]."
2015–present: Street King Immortal, bankruptcy, and departure from Interscope
50 Cent in 2017
On May 14, 2015, Jackson revealed in an interview that the first single from Street King Immortal, would be previewed Memorial Day weekend and would likely be released in June. Jackson released "Get Low" on May 20, 2015, as the intended first single from his sixth studio album, Street King Immortal. The song, produced by Remo the Hitmaker, features vocals from fellow American rappers 2 Chainz and T.I., as well as American singer Jeremih. He announced bankruptcy on July 13, 2015.
On March 31, 2017, Interscope Records released 50 Cent's final album for the label, a greatest hits album titled Best Of.
In 2020, Jackson led the executive-producer duties for late rapper Pop Smoke's debut album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, having been one of Pop Smoke's biggest inspirations. The album was released on July 3, 2020. Jackson curated the album, desiring to finish it after Pop had died. He contacted many of the artists involved, and also features on one of the album tracks, "The Woo", .
In May 2021, Curtis Jackson moved to Houston. This was thought to be for lower taxes, no income tax, and for the rapper scene, as well as other ventures such as writing new screenplays. Also, Jackson, Horizon United Group, and Houston Independent School District began a partnership on a project that would help high school students learn the business skills that define successful entrepreneurship. While living in Houston, Curtis Jackson was in the process of writing screenplays for new crime shows.
In a July 2021 interview with The Independent, 50 Cent confirmed that he had officially decided to shelve his Street King Immortal album after it spent a decade in development hell. He even confirmed that he plans to release a completely new project.
Jackson cites Boogie Down Productions, Big Daddy Kane, The Juice Crew, EPMD and KRS-One as his rapping influences, while citing LL Cool J as an inspiration behind his writing of "21 Questions". Jackson also states that he drew influences from Nas, Rakim and The Notorious B.I.G. while working on Animal Ambition.
Jackson has had a highly successful business career. He is financially invested in a highly diversified variety of industries. Jackson is now involved in artist and talent management, record, television, and film production, footwear, apparel, fragrances, liquor, video games, mobile apps, book publishing, headphones, along with health drinks and dietary supplements. His broad business and investment portfolio contains investments in a variety of sectors including real estate, financial market investments, mining, boxing promotion, vodka, fragrances, consumer electronics and fashion.
He established his own record label G-Unit Records in 2003 following his mainstream success. In November 2003, he signed a five-year deal with Reebok to distribute a G-Unit Sneakers line for his G-Unit Clothing Company. In an interview, Jackson said his businesses had a habit of doing well as he saw all of his ventures both past and present as revolving around his alter ego.
Jackson has also started a book publishing imprint, G-Unit Books on January 4, 2007, at the Time Warner Building in New York. He has written a number of books including a memoir, From Pieces To Weight in 2005 where it sold 73,000 copies in hardcover and 14,000 copies in paperback; a crime novel and a book with Robert Greene titled The 50th Law, an urban take on The 48 Laws of Power. In November 2011, Jackson released 50 Cent's Playground, a young adult fiction novel about a bullied, violent boy and his gay mother.
One of Jackson's first business ventures was a partnership with Glacéau to create an enhanced water drink called Formula 50. In October 2004, Jackson became a beverage investor when he was given a minority share in the company in exchange for becoming a spokesperson after learning that he was a fan of the beverage. The health conscious Jackson noted that he first learned of the product while at a gym in Los Angeles, and stated that "they do such a good job making water taste good." After becoming a minority shareholder and celebrity spokesperson, Jackson worked with the company to create a new grape flavored "Formula 50" variant of VitaminWater and mentioned the drinks in various songs and interviews. In 2007, Coca-Cola purchased Glacéau for $4.1 billion and, according to Forbes, Jackson, who was a minority shareholder, earned $100 million from the deal after taxes.
Though he no longer has an equity stake in the company, Jackson continues to act as a spokesperson for VitaminWater, supporting the product including singing about it at the BET Awards and expressing his excitement over the company's continuing to allow his input on products. He joined Right Guard to introduce a body spray (Pure 50 RGX) and endorsed Magic Stick condoms, planning to donate part of their proceeds to increasing HIV awareness. Jackson signed a multi-year deal with Steiner Sports to sell his memorabilia, and announced plans for a dietary-supplement company in conjunction with his film Spectacular Regret in August 2007.
Jackson has founded two film production companies: G-Unit Films in 2003 and Cheetah Vision in 2008. Cheetah Vision produces low budget action thrillers for foreign film markets across the world. When G-Unit Films folded, he focused on Cheetah Vision and the company obtained $200 million in funding in 2010. In 2010, Jackson revived G-Unit Films, renaming the company to G-Unit Films and Television Inc. The company has joint ventures with Will Packer's production company Will Packer Productions and Universal Television. In over 18 months, Jackson has sold projects to six different networks. Among them was Power, a STARZ drama in which he not only co-stars but also serves as co-creator and executive producer. Power debuted in June 2014 and was renewed for a second season after one episode.