50 Cent may have gotten his start in the music industry, but the seasoned rapper has evolved from gritty lyricist to one of the most respected names in Hollywood. While his accolades in the music and film industry are well-known, they barely scratch the surface of his overall success.
On July 6, 1975, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson was born in South Jamaica, Queens, New York City. After his mother died when he was eight-years-old, Jackson was raised by his grandmother during the peak of the crack era in the 1980s. Although he got involved in drug activity and built a hefty rap sheet by the early '90s, Jackson overcame his past in order to focus on his future in Hip-Hop.
Jackson took on the name "50 Cent" to honor the original "50 Cent," Kelvin Martin. Martin was a well-known criminal who was cool with rap legends like Eric B. & Rakim. In 2005, Jackson explained why he picked the name.
"I took the name 50 Cent because it says everything I want it to say," Jackson said. "I'm the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means. He'll never be forgotten. I'm dead serious. I'll see to it."
After he met Jam Master Jay of Run-D.M.C. in 1996, Jackson learned the basics of making a rap record from the veteran DJ. 50 Cent eventually landed his first placement on Onyx's "React" off their 1998 LP Shut Em Down. From there, The Trackmasters signed him to a deal with Columbia Records and even recorded his debut album Power of the Dollar featuring his controversial single "How To Rob." Unfortunately, 50 Cent was shot nine times and hospitalized right before the album's scheduled release. The shooting resulted in Columbia shelving the album and dropping him from the label.
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
50 Cent managed to bounce back once he recovered from his injuries. In 2002, he released his mixtape Guess Who's Back? and attracted the ears of Eminem, who took him to Dr. Dre and signed him to Shady Records/Aftermath Entertainment. 50 celebrated by dropping his No Mercy, No Fear mixtape, which features his breakthrough hit "Wanksta." The song was used in Eminem's 8 Mile soundtrack, and the rest is history.
The G-Unit founder went on to drop five albums like Get Rich Or Die Tryin' and The Massacre as well as two collaborative projects with his label. But that wasn't enough for 50. He eventually began to lean into his passion for acting and appeared in major films like his 2005 Get Rich Or Die Tryin' biopic and TV series like Power (2014) and For Life (2020). He's also an accomplished entrepreneur with numerous business ventures under his belt. Over the span of his lengthy career, 50 has broken into various industries including liquor, artist management, film production, footwear and apparel, fragrance, video games, publishing, headphones and health drinks and supplements.
Happy birthday 50 Cent!