The year was 2002.. Hip Hop music was once again going through a cycle. JaRule and Nelly were both dominating with their commercial friendly music, Nas had defeated JayZ in battle and was going on a anti Industry tear, JayZ was on vacation, Eminem was holding it down with The Eminem Show, Camron signed with the Roc, A whole lot was going on within that period. But what people don’t realize is that history was made on June 1st 2002, It was when 50 Cent whom was the hottest artist in the underground signed with Shady Records.
The Impact of the streets
This modern social media era only knows 50 Cent as this hilarious but ruthless troll on Instagram with a hot TV show(Power). But there was a time where during this period that 50 Cent was probably the biggest artist in the world. His buzz after he recovered from his 2000 shooting became impeccable. He released mixtapes with his new crew members Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck where they would take hit songs and remake them as their own. It got to a point where those remakes were becoming rotation songs on radio!
50’s demand was getting higher and he was featured on J Lo’s and Missy Elliot’s records. He also landed a spot on Eminem’s hit movie soundtrack 8 Mile where he landed his first major hit Wanksta. What made Wanksta a hit was that it took a hilarious dig at his rival Ja Rule and it wasn’t malicious. 50 also worked on developing catching choruses and studied the recipe of hit records from both Em and Dre. 50 switched alot of his style up and knew how to make catchy melodies.
When In Da Club was released.. It was what the doctor had ordered and officially kicked down the door for G Unit. Not only did 50 have a gigantic street buzz but he also had access to Eminem’s mainstream fanbase and Dr Dre’s magic touch. There was no possible way 50 Cent could lose with that juggernaut so when In Da Club dropped, It swarmed the industry like a Tsunami. That record was heard all over the radio, the clubs, the parties, the streets. You name it. 50 already had the smash hit to break him out.. The question was could he live up to the hype?
The Release of Get Rich or Die Trying
The momentum for 50’s album was so huge that they had leaked the album days before its official release to counter bootlegging. The album was also gonna come with a DVD giving the listener a story of 50’s rise from the SouthSide Jamaica Queens to possibly blowing up to be the biggest rapper of the 2000s. The album contained so many impactful records that many can argue that Get Rich or Die Trying inspired the Drill Music Scene. Especially with the track HEAT where you can see in the video where Chief Keef got inspired.
An artist fascination with death has always been a strange draw to records. Being shot 9 times, 50 has said in many interviews that the sound of death excites him and the way he was moving at the time, It scared alot of record execs or artists to not want to really do business with him or work with him. After that near death experience, 50’s motto was he has to Get Rich to survive and he’s gonna die trying to do it. He painted the audio-visual of his near death experiences and having a hit out on his life. Similar to the late Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG, 50 clearly studied their playbook of using the concept of death to draw the listener into his world and executed it flawlessly.
Get Rich or Die Trying was possible one of the most impactful albums of all time. 50’s sells was the lightning rod the music industry needed at the time of instant download and piracy snipping away at soundscan numbers. 50 was also the jackpot that Eminem needed to really become a powerhouse for his label Shady. Most importantly for a brief minute, He brought the aspect of aggressive competition and the streets back as a focus point. Plus the album catapulted G-Unit as possibly one of the most popular brands of all time.
Then 50 took advantage of his popularity in ways where even it caught his bosses off for a loop. Starting his own label G Unit Records, G Unit books, G-Unit Clothing, Video games, Vitamin water, and was one of the first to jump on the Social media wave with Thisis50.com(Thanks to Spider Loc). We may never see a organic run like 50’s ever again.