Get Rich or Die Trying – 50 Cent’s Rise to the top of Rap

Many Men from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s Major Label debut “Get Rich or Die Trying” dramatizes a defining event in the rappers life.

From when he was shot 9 times in May 2000 to when his album was released in 2003, a host of events took place that would catapult 50 Cent into the stratosphere of pop culture and turn hip hop on its head.

After signing to Columbia records his original debut “Power of the Dollar” was shelved and his contract was terminated after his shooting.

In April 2002, 50 Cent took leftovers from “Power of the Dollar”, added in fresh new music and released a compilation album by the title “Guess Who’s Back”. It wouldn’t be long until Eminem and Dr Dre caught wind of 50 Cent and signed him to a $1,000,000 deal at Shady Aftermath under Interscope Records the same year.

50 Cent and his crew G Unit, then consisting of Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and later Young Buck and others turned in tape after tape of remix of popular songs.

50 Cent said at the time “I’m not going to stop, I will keep on taking everybody’s single and do them over”.

He definitely wasn’t the first to use this technique but he left his mark by doing it his way. It was no longer about your demo tape, instead mixtapes became more and more important. The hotter your mixtape was in the streets, the bigger your buzz.

50 Cent really had his own way of making a wave by picking fights with other rappers through music and wearing a bulletproof vest every time he performed.

Rolling with his large crew who were heavily armed, enhanced his credibility which he used as currency.  

“In Da Club” produced by Dr. Dre and dropped in 2003, was the hit that took 50 Cent to the top. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts by March and is to this day arguably his biggest single. “Get Rich or Die Trying” also had two other top 5 hits, “P.I.M.P” and “21 Questions”.

50 Cent had a way of taking beef to another level and his first target was none other than Ja Rule, who was at the top of his game. Between 2001 and 2003 Ja Rule landed 7 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles. 50 Cent and Ja Rule’s beef dates back to 1999, while the origins are disputed it would define most of their careers.

50 Cent built his buzz on living his aggressive rap while mocking Ja Rule’s soft melodic hooks. Their beef is ongoing to this day but 50 Cent declaring himself the winner back then shifted a lot of Ja Rule’s credibility and helped his career decline. After 2003, Ja Rule only landed one more Billboard top 10 hit.

50 Cent wasn’t done there aiming shots at other rappers like Fat Joe and Rick Ross.

“Get Rich or Die Trying” dropped to universal acclaim on February 6th in 2003 and moved more than 800,000 units in its first week. The album went on to sell more than 8,000,000 records and in 2005 it was turned into a movie. 50 Cent built on the success of the movie and went on to have a noteworthy career outside of rap. He became a huge business man with acting, video games, sneakers, clothing and even soft drinks.

The branding of the ultimate street hustler had fans tuning in to his every move to see if 50 Cent would indeed get rich or die trying.