More so than any other music since the blues, hip-hop is all about stories. And its stories are both criminal minded and grand, making them enthralling and unbelievable, but also making them only as interesting and convincing as the teller. That's why, despite being blackballed by the industry, without a major-label recording contract, heads still gravitated to Jamaica, Queens' realest son, 50 Cent, like the planets to the sun. 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson 26 years ago, is the real deal, the genuine article. He's a man of the streets, intimately familiar with its codes and its violence, but still, 50, an incredibly intelligent and deliberate man, holds himself with a regal air as if above the pettiness which surrounds him. Born into a notorious Queens drug dynasty during the late '70s, 50 Cent lost those closest to him at an early age. Raised without a father, 50's mother, whose name carried weight in the street (hint, hint, dummies), was found dead under mysterious circumstances before he could hit his teens. The orphaned youth was taken in by his grandparents, who provided for 50. But his desire for things would drive him to the block.
Unfortunately, caught up in industry limbo, there wasn't much JMJ could do for 50. The platinum hitmakers Trackmasters took notice of 50 and signed him to Columbia Records in 1999. He turned out 36 songs in this short period, which resulted in "Power Of A Dollar," an unreleased masterpiece that Blaze Magazine judged a classic. In April of '00, 50 was shot 9 times, including a .9mm bullet to the face, in front of his grandmothers house in Queens. He spent the next few months in recovery while Columbia Records dropped him from the label. He banged out track after track, despite no income or backing, with his new business partner and friend Sha Money XL. They released the red, white and blue bootleg, "50 Cent Is the Future," revisiting material by Jay-Z and even Rapheal Saadiq.
Not since the summer of '94, when radio would play absolutely anything Notorious B.I.G. related, has hip-hop seen buzz like this. The CD featured only one new track, "Wanksta," which was certainly not intended for radio, but the streets couldn't wait for the official single and within weeks "Wanksta" became New York's most requested record. He's coming with over ten incredible tracks stashed from last spring and newly recorded winners courtesy of Eminem, who's really cut his production teeth of late, and hip-hop's greatest, highest-selling producer Dr. Dre. Promising an LP of the caliber of rap classics like "Illmatic," "Ready to Die," and "Reasonable Doubt," 50 Cent's debut promises to set the pace for hip-hop in coming years. The product of his unrelenting drive, talent and, frankly, his real-ness, 50's official first album promises to do for him just what it says.
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