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That's Right - 50 Cent has been shot before, actually he was shot 9 times

The year is 2003. The scene is a random nightclub somewhere in the world. A low voice resonates through the air: “Go shorty, it’s yo’ birthday. We gon’ party like it’s yo’ birthday.” A collective scream of excitement drowns out the music, and the nightclub is swiftly transformed into a sea of pumping fists.

Many a turn-of-the-millenium frat boy and sorority sister consider rapper 50 Cent soley responsible for the soundtrack of their hazy, hangover-plagued college career. But 50 Cent is more than just a producer of club anthems and innovative videos (the most notable of which, In Da Club, featured 50 Cent rapping upside down). 50 Cent has a long and fascinating history dating back to his South Jamaica, Queens, New York birth back on July 6, 1975.

At the age of twelve, 50 Cent (who was then called Curtis James Jackson III) was already heavily involved in a different career: dealing drugs. He inherited this career choice from his mother, a single parent who raised her child off the money she made dealing cocaine. Sadly, his mother was brutally murdered when the future 50 Cent was just eight years old: an unknown assailant drugged her, turned the gas on in the apartment, closed the windows, and left her for dead. Young Jackson was then shipped off to his grandparents’ house, where he lived with his eight aunts and uncles. His best friend at this time was his younger cousin, who went by the nickname 25 Cent (careful listeners will know him as the Two-Five character who appears in may of 50 Cent’s songs). Most of their friends sold drugs, so it was no big stretch for 50 Cent to get into it, too. For years, he hid cocaine from his grandmother. He owned guns and regularly brought them to school until a metal detector sold him a few years later. 50 Cent got arrested, and used the opportunity to become a more honest person. He now openly admitted to his grandmother that he sold drugs for a living.

His new policy of honesty didn’t do him much good, whenever, when he found himself just having sold four vials of cocaine to an undercover cop. He was arrested then, and arrested again three weeks later when the cops searched his home and came up with a heroin stash, a crack cocaine stash, and a starter gun. Although sentenced to three to nine years in prison, 50 Cent managed to get away with only seven weeks in a Shock Incarceration camp.

50 Cent had his first brush with music in 1996: he met Jam Master Jay of the legendary Run-DMC. Jay took 50 Cent into his first music studio and taught him to structure a song. What he learned stayed with 50 Cent, and a year later, he had a new motivation to switch careers: somewhere during this time, 50 Cent had begun seeing a young lady named Tomiqua. In 1997, Tomiqua gave birth to 50 Cent’s son, Marquise. He may have just been a newborn, but Marquise had the power to make 50 Cent reconsider his current lifestyle and start working towards some new goals.

50 Cent spent the late 90’s working on several albums that never got released, some with Jam Master Jay. However, 50 Cent was beginning to enjoy a healthy degree of underground success. He’d written a song called “How to Rob,” detailing how one should go about robbing famous artists. “How to Rob” offended several notable names in rap music, including Jay-Z, Big Pun, DMX and the Wu-Tang Clan. A rapper named Nas, meanwhile, liked the song, and invited 50 Cent to release it, along with a video for a song called Thug Love featuring Destiny’s Child. It was the lucky break that never came; before the video could be shot, 50 Cent was shot and had to be taken to the hospital.

2000 was a rough year for 50 Cent; he was shot several times. Observant listeners may notice a slight slur in his voice, the result of one such shooting which got him in the left cheek.  The recovery process took a while—five months, to be exact—but the strongest healing effects seemed to be occurring on 50 Cent’s psyche. He later detailed these shootings in a memoir, From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens, where he confessed that having survived these shootings confirmed, for him, that he had “some purpose in life.”

Unfortunately, his new attitude had little impact on certain record labels. Columbia Records, for example, dropped him, and several other labels blacklisted him. 50 Cent then joined the ranks of draft dodgers, married homosexuals and other Americans who couldn’t fully express themselves in their home country, and headed north of the border to Canada. Together with his business partner, Sha Money XL, 50 Cent recorded a series of mix tapes and gradually earned himself a reputation. One historic mix tape, 2002’s Guess Who’s Back? caught the attention of legendary rapper Eminem. Impressed, Emimen flew 50 Cent to L.A. to introduce him to the even more legendary Dr. Dre, Emimen’s own mentor and producer. 50 Cent was soon the proud owner of a one million dollar record deal.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out in early 2003. Critics raved, calling it the most hyped debut rap album in years and praising its original beats and sounds. Audiences agreed with the positive reviews; the album sold so fast that it went gold in its first week and platinum in its second. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ brought us that club classic, In Da Club. In the years that followed, 50 Cent got his own record label (G-Unit Records) and released a second album, The Massacre, widely praised for bringing the world the rap classic Candy Shop.

To date, 50 Cent has sold a whopping 21 million albums worldwide. Life is pretty good for 50 Cent these days. He currently resides in Farmington, Conneticut, which may seem like an odd place for a superstar to live, but not so odd if you consider that he moved there specifically to purchase a mansion that once belonged to boxer Mike Tyson. He’s also the proud owner of G-Unit, a highly successful rap label, and has at least two more albums on the way. Hmmm… it seems like every day is 50 Cent’s birthday.

Not to say that 50 Cent’s life is now perfect. He’s had his fair share of problems, mostly involving feuds with other rappers: Cam’ron, Ja Rule, Fat Joe, Shyne, Jadakiss and D-Block all hold 50 Cent on their “not” lists—and vice versa. Interestingly, 50 Cent has also feuded with artists he was once friendly with, like the ever-helpful Nas, as well as The Game. Admittedly, the majority of these feuds are quite boring, mostly involving things like record label wars or contract disputes. This is probably why we rarely hear about them—or maybe we do, and simply forget about them. The one potentially interesting feud involved 50 Cent and Sean “P.Diddy” Combs (formerly known as Puff Daddy). 50 Cent fired off some pretty harsh accusations at P. Diddy, going so far as to say that P. Diddy knew about the murder of 90’s rap legend Notorious B.I.G. Judging by a few peaceful MTV appearances claiming the feud has been resolved, these two superstars have since settled their differences.   

One thing remains unclear: if 50 Cent came from a life of poverty and crime in a crack-addicted neighbourhood in Queens, and overcame adversity of the harshest kind to achieve his success, why are so many of his most devoted fans white, middle-class suburban twenty-somethings who pump their fist in time to his music at overpriced nightclubs as if they really, truly get not only what 50 Cent is saying, but also where he comes from? The answer lies, as it often does, on the internet. Fan forums offer insight into what the females see in 50 Cent: quotes like “50 may be yo’ babe, but he still mi husband” and “50 cent is SOOO hot” suggest that women may see him as the epitome of hot-blooded masculinity, a fighter and symbol of perseverance. Whether or not they “get” his upbringing is irrelevant; 50 Cent appears to embody the very qualities that women have sought since hunter-gatherer days. Male fans, however, describe 50 Cent in slightly simpler terms: “He’s the man, yo” seems to be the general online consensus. Perhaps these young men see 50 Cent not as a reflection of who they are, but of who they would like to be. 50 Cent’s music may offer them a certain degree of vicarious wish fulfillment, allowing them to believe, for the duration of a song, that they’re the ones pulling up in front, in the Benz on dubs, into having sex, [not] into making love. Maybe 50 Cent really is the ultimate cross-cultural phenomenon of a generation, making everyone feel like today really is their birthday.