It’s safe to say that 50 Cent is one of the most accomplished rappers of our time. After dominating the charts with “In Da Club” and “Candy Shop,” 50 translated his rap fame into diverse businesses. From creating his own brand of champagne to producing a surprisingly profitable flavored water, 50 knows how to make a buck. He said he’d “get rich or die tryin” and so far, he’s enjoying the better half of those options.
But 50’s path is definitely a rags to riches story. As a young boy, 50 grappled with crime, grief, and violence. As a teenager, he struggled with the law. In his darkest moment, which occurred when he was still only in his 20s, he almost died. Thankfully, 50 managed to get out of harm’s way and use his talents to rise to the top.
With his violent past behind him, 50 is now focused on his business ventures and, of course, his lifelong hobby of insulting Ja Rule. So raise your glass. Here are 50 powerful facts about the one and only 50 Cent.
50 Cent Facts
Curtis “50 Cent” James Jackson III was born on June 6, 1976 in New York City’s borough of Queens. The rapper grew up in Queens, specifically the neighborhood of South Jamaica.
50 Cent’s rap career began in an explosive manner, taking the rap world by storm. His debut single, “How to Rob,” was released in 1999. It depicts 50 as a man who brags about mugging various big names in music. Among the dozens of people called out and mocked in the song were P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Will Smith, and members of the Wu Tang Clan. That’s one way to make an entrance.
3. Hate it or Love it
Despite the humorous tone of “How to Rob,” it was considered highly audacious for a then-unknown 50 Cent to call out so many established rap artists. Several of those artists took the time to write retaliatory tracks against 50 Cent, even when they actually liked “How to Rob.” Specifically, Jay-Z approached 50 and admitted that while he loved the track, he still had to “spank” the up-and-comer in verses of his own.
4. Major Distribution
Of course, having a bunch of big-level rap artists calling you out can’t help but bring attention your way, which was exactly what 50 Cent hoped for. In his own words, “I didn’t have a choice. I was on Columbia Records. My album release date was coming. I had no buzz. It didn’t matter if it turned into beef with everybody. I took that shot because it was my only shot. If it didn’t work I was going back to the ‘hood.”
Clearly, the gamble played off. Looks like Curtis Jackson’s business sense was already helping him out in his early rap endeavors. In both games, you’re nothing without hype.
5. Da Repercussions
One reason why 50 Cent was so eager to garner attention to himself with “How to Rob” was because he had to find a way to promote his debut album. This album in question was Power of the Dollar. It was supposed to be released in 2000, but after an alarming controversy got 50 kicked off the studio label (more on that later), Columbia Records shelved Power of the Dollar. To this day, it’s never been released. 50 Cent’s debut album instead became Get Rich or Die Tryin’, released in 2003.
50 Cent’s father left the family very early, leaving 50 to be raised by his single mother, Sabrina. Tragically, young Curtis’ struggles were only beginning. Sabrina herself died when the rapper was just eight years old. Even worse, she perished in a terrifying way: due to injuries sustained from a fire. With both his parents out of the picture, 50 was raised by his grandparents instead.
7. Put Ya’ Hands Up
From a very early age, 50 Cent was interested in boxing. He first began training when he was 11 years old. Three years later, a neighbor set up a gym for local youths to train and spar with each other. 50 later compared the rap world to the world of boxing. Fair enough: in both, people frequently compete with each other, battling it out for relevance and recognition.
8. This is 50
According to the man himself, 50 Cent chose his rapper name in honor of a criminal named Kelvin Martin, who used that moniker for himself in the 1980s. As 50 put it, the nickname “says everything I want it to say. I’m the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means.” As we’ll see, this is true in many ways–not all of them entirely above the law.
9. God Gave Me Style
50 Cent lists Big Daddy Kane, Nas, LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G. as influences on his own style of rapping.
10. I’m a Hustler
Despite never becoming a professional boxer, 50 Cent never left the world of boxing behind him. In 2012, 50 Cent got his boxing promoting license. He proceeded to form a company and sign several accomplished boxers to his roster. He briefly worked together with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, but they parted ways, apparently on bitter terms (more on that later).
Additionally, he co-starred in the 2015 boxing drama Southpaw (which also involved his peer Eminem).
11. Gun Runner
Just like his mother, 50 Cent turned to drug dealing from a young age. He was 12 years old when he began lying to his grandparents about attending after-school programs so he could instead sell substances. Things hit a breaking point in 10th grade when metal detectors revealed that the young 50 smuggled drugs and guns into the school. From then on, according to 50 Cent, he was upfront with his parents about his criminal activities.
12. Build You Up
50 Cent owes a great debt to Jam Master Jay, formerly of Run-DMC. After being introduced to the young would-be rapper, the rap legend went above and beyond. He taught a young 50 about song structure, writing hooks, and how to count bars and make records. It’s safe to say that 50 Cent took those lessons to heart.
13. Man Down
In 2005, 50 Cent made his acting debut with the gangster drama Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The film was named after his 2003 album and was based loosely on the rapper’s life. 50 Cent was new to acting and attempted to hire an acting coach to accompany him on set. However, director Jim Sheridan dismissed the acting coach and told 50 that if the film failed, it would be because of his direction rather than 50 Cent’s acting.
14. Come and Go
Sadly for both Sheridan and 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ did not do well. It received widespread criticism and became a box office flop. As you can imagine, many critics made puns based on the movie’s now-ironic title. Whoops. (On the plus side, a well-respected critic named Roger Ebert liked the movie. His title suggestion was “I Got Rich But Just About Everybody Else Died Tryin’, and So Did I, Almost.”)
15. Could’ve Been You
Although the Oscar-nominated Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan was eager to work with 50 Cent, another Oscar nominee wasn’t so excited. A prominent actor publicly judged 50 Cent’s movie. Samuel L. Jackson stated that he had no interest in furthering what he felt was a vanity project by an unproven actor. Jackson did, however, work with 50 just a year later in the 2006 film Home of the Brave. They probably had to have an awkward conversation before the movie got underway.
16. Position of Power
It’s debatable, but one could make a strong argument that 50 Cent’s heyday was in 2007. At the time, he was the second-richest rapper in the world (only behind the iconic Jay-Z), worth a whopping $155 million. [Insert obligatory pun about how the rapper was worth a lot more than 50 cents here.]
17. Money by Any Means
While most people point to 50 Cent’s lucrative rap career (and subsequent acting career) as a markers of success, it turns out that 50 Cent also has a surprising talent. He’s a shrewd and diverse businessman. He backs products for the beverage, fashion, and film industries. His weirder assets? 50’s involved with video games, flavored water, and 50 Cent-branded platinum.
18. Outta Control
Losing is an inevitable part of any businessman’s life and 50 Cent is no exception. Like many others, the rapper turned mogul lost a significant amount of money during the 2008 recession. Always his own hype man, 50 managed to spin his losses into a weird flex: “If you don’t lose money in this recession, it means you didn’t have enough to start off with.” Honestly, kind of well played?
19. Double Up
It might surprise you to know that one of 50 Cent’s most frequent collaborators in film is veteran actor Val Kilmer, of Top Gun and Willow fame. The unlikely duo made three films in as many years, with 50 Cent actually writing one of their joint efforts (Gun from 2010). After spending so much time together on set, they became weirdly adorable friends.
20. How We Do
50 Cent gave Kilmer a red Impala and filled the trunk with amps and subwoofers. Kilmer also bragged about how his tough friend overcame adversity, “cusses a lot” but is still “an inspiration,” and even wrote a song for Kilmer’s kids. TLDR: I would watch a buddy comedy about 50 Cent and Val Kilmer falling in friend love on movie sets.
21. I Got Swag
Given his status in the music industry, coupled with his interest in acting, it should surprise nobody to know that 50 Cent has appeared as himself in several films. After hiding his comedic chops for many years (50 Cent is secretly hilarious, guys), 50 has played silly versions of himself in Morning Glory, Last Vegas, and Spy. Additionally, he’s spoofed himself in the Hollywood comedy Entourage.
22. Lay Down (Smoked)
In June 1994, the 19-year-old 50 Cent finally had to face the music. He was arrested by an undercover police officer after he sold said officer four vials of cocaine. A subsequent search of his house only made things worse. The police revealed that Jackson also had quantities of crack cocaine, heroin, and a starting pistol.
23. Touch the Sky
Following his arrest in 1994 for drug possession, 50 Cent was sentenced to a hefty prison sentence. He was sent to jail for between three to nine years, while tragically still only a teenager himself. Despite that, his actual sentence was much reduced from that amount. He spent six months in a boot camp instead. During this time, 50 didn’t rest. He made sure to earn his GED.
24. Chase the Paper
On one occasion, 50 Cent caused an uproar on the set of the film Get Rich or Die Tryin’’. He began tossing money to people observing the production. When the director asked him to stop, 50 Cent continued to throw more money, drawing an even bigger crowd to the scene. Later, however, 50 apologized to the cast and crew of the film for delaying the shoot and causing the public disturbance.
25. Your Life’s on the Line
During his teen years, 50 Cent dated Shaniqua Tompkins. In 1996, Tompkins gave birth to their son, Marquis Jackson. 50 Cent has said that the birth of Marquise played a major role in his life. His newborn son inspired 50 to shift his priorities in life and pursue a lasting career that would support his son.
26. Scorched Earth
Despite the birth of his son changing him for the better, this wasn’t enough to save 50 Cent’s relationship with Marquise’s mother. Shaniqua Tompkins later sued 50 Cent for $50 million (that amount can’t have been a coincidence, right?), claiming that 50 violated a verbal promise he’d made to her that he would take care of her for life.
Unfortunately for Tompkins, however, a judge dismissed her case. But Tompkins was determined to have her revenge. A few days after she was ordered to leave her home, the house mysteriously burned down. When asked about it, 50 wouldn’t say that he thought Tompkins burned it down, though he did admit that “it might seem that way.”
27. Down On Me
For years, 50 Cent’s film career floundered. Even though he worked with major stars like Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, he starred in several badly-reviewed action dramas. It didn’t look like things were ever going to work out, until…
28. What Up Gangsta
In 2014, after years of struggling, 50 Cent finally struck gold with the crime series Power. Although Courtney A. Kemp is the show’s creator, 50 Cent worked closely with her as a producer and co-star of the series. It’s received widespread acclaim, ranking as one of the most-watched series in Starz’ lineup.
29. I Get Money
In 2012, 50 Cent welcomed his second child into the world. Sire Jackson is the son of 50 Cent and model Daphne Joy, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to money-making. At the age of two, Sire earned $700,000 by modelling for a headphone brand called Kidz Safe.
30. Gotta Make it to Heaven
Despite his time dealing drugs on the streets, 50 Cent avoided any and all substance use. After bearing witness to how drug use affected the people around him, he decided that he would stay sober and find a way to get out of the drug trade. Even to this day, 50 Cent maintains a lifestyle in which he neither smokes nor drinks.
31. So Disrespectful
In November 2018, rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was arrested on weapons possession, racketeering, and drugs charges. When it was revealed that he would cooperate with the authorities and provide names, several celebrities in the rap community distanced themselves from 6ix9ine. 50 Cent was one of these celebrities, and he wasn’t shy about mocking his peer.
In September 2019, 50 Cent uploaded a post to his Instagram account with a drawing of 6ix9ine in court. 50 Cent added text, implying that 6ix9ine spoils part of 50’s show Power.
32. Don’t Push Me
We barely have to mention this since it’s become so iconic with the 2000s rap scene, but in case you didn’t know, 50 Cent was the giant of early 2000s rap who not only made hit albums but was also making millions through his business deals. So when a young up-and-comer emerged on the scene with experimental rap albums that gained a huge following, it was widely seen as a front to 50 Cent’s style of music. And in case you’re unclear, that young up-and-comer was none other than Kanye West.
33. Better Come on Your A Game
The fact that 50 Cent and Kanye West had such different styles of rap made their feud all the more impactful. Fans took sides and writers penned think pieces about West’s experimental, thought-provoking rap threatened 50’s gangsta rap. Things came to a head when 50 Cent and West both released their new albums on September 11, 2007. Each one claimed that they would outsell the other.
34. I Gotta Win
When the big day came, 50 Cent released Curtis and Kanye West released Graduation. At last, the dust finally settled: Curtis sold 690,000 copies and Graduation sold 960,000 copies. It was, at that point, 50 Cent’s lowest opening date. The defeat confirmed that West would lead the transition of rap music into the late 2000s and beyond.
35. Animal Ambition
In the early 2010s, 50 Cent tried his hand at screenwriting in yet another attempt to give himself a film career. In 2010, he wrote the screenplay for Gun, which he followed up with the 2011 film All Things Fall Apart. 50 Cent starred in both films, neither of which received a theatrical release…or particularly high IMDB scores.
36. Like My Style
50 Cent went particularly method when it came to acting in All Things Fall Apart. Since he played a character who struggled with cancer, 50 Cent famously lost around 54 pounds to give himself a genuinely gaunt appearance. He reportedly did so by going on a liquid diet and spending three hours per day on the treadmill. Sadly, his dedication to the project did nothing to improve its critical and commercial failure.
37. I’m the Man
In keeping with 50 Cent’s troll-ish sense of humor, he specifically called out boxer Floyd Mayweather in a video for the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. In the video, 50 Cent promised to donate $750,000 to a charity of Mayweather’s choice if Mayweather (famously mocked for being allegedly illiterate) would read a single page from a Harry Potter book.
Jimmy Kimmel later said he’d allow Mayweather to read the page on his show as proof, whereupon 50 amended the challenge with a scathing suggestion. Maybe Mayweather should read Cat in the Hat instead.
38. Power of the Dollar
50 Cent’s All Things Fall Apart wasn’t originally given that title. It came under legal fire, however, when someone noticed that the original title was the same as the classic 1958 novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, a tragedy about colonization in Africa. When 50 heard, his first response left a lot to be desired.
He offered Achebe’s legal team $1 million to allow the films’ title to go ahead. Deeply offended, Achebe clarified that he wouldn’t sell for $1 billion. As a result, the title of the film was changed by adding an “All.” That’s different enough, right?
39. Nah, Nah, Nah
In 2016, 50 Cent was in Cincinnati Airport when he noticed one of the employees behaving a bit strangely. Convinced that the employee was on drugs, he began filming and openly mocking the employee. However, as his video went viral, people learned the truth. The employee – Andrew Farrell – was actually autistic. 50 Cent faced widespread criticism from internet users, while liquor stores around the US threatened to take 50 Cent’s liquor brand off their shelves.
By far the most defining feud of 50 Cent’s rap career is his decades-long beef with Ja Rule. If I had it my way, I would teleport Shakespeare to the modern day and demand that he write a dramatic play about the bad blood between these two man-babies. There is just so much good stuff to unpack in their many fights.
The feud began in the late 1990s, but neither man seems to agree on how things fell apart between them. According to Ja Rule, 50 Cent felt bitter about being snubbed. 50, on the other hand, claimed that Ja Rule got robbed while in Queens. When Ja later saw 50 Cent hanging out with his mugger, he cut ties.
41. Can’t Help Myself
In 1999, Ja Rule’s Venni Vetti Vecci went platinum in the US and firmly established him as a rap star. However, the triumph was somewhat spoiled by the fact that 50 Cent had a minor hit with his single “Life’s on the Line.” Originally meant for Power of the Dollar, the song held a secret meaning. It was actually an elaborate diss aimed straight at Ja Rule. And even though Ja Rule wasn’t directly named in the song, it was clear to anyone in the know that 50 Cent was mocking his rival.
42. In Da Club
Following the 1999 single “Life’s on the Line,” things went from heated words to heated altercations. First, the two men and their crews got into a fight in an Atlanta nightclub. Then, in the spring of 2000, Ja Rule and his boys interrupted 50 Cent while he was recording music in New York City. The interruption resulted in another scuffle, during which someone stabbed 50 Cent. Ja Rule and one of his crew were arrested, with the latter claiming responsibility for stabbing 50 Cent.
43. Outta Control
Following the stabbing, 50 Cent went all in on his verbal smackdowns against Ja Rule. Single after single piled scathing derision upon Ja Rule’s reputation. Unfortunately for Ja Rule, 50’s music was super popular at the time. Ja Rule needed something big to turn the tide. With his 2003 song “Loose Change,” he not only targeted 50 Cent, but also his peers Dr. Dre and Eminem.
44. Death to My Enemies
Luckily for 50 Cent, Ja Rule released the kraken with “Loose Change” by taking aim at Eminem’s daughter, Hailie. Eminem teamed up with 50 Cent to remake Tupac Shakur’s “Hail Mary” in a rapid response to “Loose Change.” Among their many insults towards Ja Rule, 50 Cent took aim at Ja Rule’s trying to emulate Shakur’s style and lyric ability.
45. We Up
After Ja Rule’s next album Blood in My Eye underperformed and faced lots of criticism, it was clear that 50 Cent emerged victorious. Even Ja Rule himself admitted that he’d been defeated by 50 Cent, though it took him a decade to say so. Even though neither one is really making music anymore, the two men continue to feud to this day.
46. I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy
When 50 Cent appeared on The Colbert Report, he answered some tough questions. But none could ever be more challenging than Colbert’s final query: “Say one nice thing about Ja Rule.” 50, sipping on his own brand of champagne, took a moment. He calmly responded with an epic remark: “He’s alive.” See the glory for yourself here.
47. The Hit
In 2000, 50 Cent’s life changed forever. An assailant shot the rapper while he visited his grandmother. Fired upon with a 9mm handgun, 50 Cent was hit nine times in his hand, arm, chest, legs, and face. His voice gained a slight slur as an effect of the gunshot wound to his cheek. Shortly after, his deal with Columbia fell apart, causing his would-be debut album to be shelved. The assailant, alleged to be Darryl Baum, was killed three weeks later.
48. Candy Shop
“He’s a sweetheart, he’s so cute.” Hmm…these are not words you’d expect to hear about 50 Cent. But according to his ex-girlfriend Chelsea Handler, that’s 50 Cent’s real self, not the tough-as-nails persona. Apparently they met when he appeared on her show, leading the smitten mogul to send the comedienne a bouquet of flowers. The pair dated throughout 2011 and while it never got serious, they still speak very fondly about each other.
Other than Handler and his ex-wives, 50’s most significant relationship was with fellow musician Ciara, who he dated on and off between 2007 and 2010. (Apparently they fact that there was still some tension between them contributed to 50’s break-up with Handler). He also had brief flings with Vivica A. Fox and Paris Hilton.
49. Can’t Leave Em Alone
50 Cent is secretly the pettiest and most hilarious man, and I can prove it. He posted a video showing him getting taken to the hospital after a dangerous activity: listening to Fat Joe’s new album. In the video, he says the album gave him a serious injury and thanked his fans for being supportive in his time of need.
I have inserted an image of a Grammy here because this is obviously 50’s crowning achievement.
50. Get the Money
One of 50 Cent’s biggest accomplishments as a businessman was when Glaceau, the company in which he was a partner, sold its brand of vitamin water to Coca Cola. Coca Cola allegedly purchased the water for a whopping $4.1 billion. It’s safe to say that 50 received a pretty nice pay day when that purchase went through.