This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the classic debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson released on Shady/Aftermath records.
Fueled by the street single “Wanksta” and the massive hit “In Da Club” produced by Dr. Dre, the album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling an impressive 872,000 copies the first week.
The accolades didn’t stop there as Get Rich or Die Tryin spawned two number 1 singles, received numerous Grammy nominations, was ranked by Rolling Stone as number 37 on the “100 best albums of the 2000s” list, and has been certified 8x Platinum in the U.S.
Get Rich or Die Tryin wasn’t just an album title. It was a mentality, a mantra, a lifestyle, and more importantly it was the story of his life. In 2003, the stars perfectly aligned for ‘Fiddy,’ when signed to record label, Shady Aftermath, underneath the direction of Eminem and producer Dr. Dre. He had the music industry waiting for his every move, but it wasn’t always that way.
Coming from the south side of Jamaica Queens, 50’s upbringing was surrounded by misfortune. His mother was murdered while he was a child. He was in and out of prison due to his history of dealing drugs. And after signing his first deal major record deal with Columbia, he was shot nine times, which made Columbia renege on their deal.
50 had no choice but to make things work and he would do so at any cost.
After surviving the attempt on his life, 50 was never the same and neither was his music. He retreated to the Poconos to rehabilitate and craft a strategy to take his music to the next level. His voice permanently altered due to a bullet lodged in his jaw, a twang was developed that was almost reminiscent of a southern rapper, which he briefly acknowledged on “Like My Style”: “I’m a New Yorker, but I sound southern…”
He built his buzz by putting out a string of mixtapes. The content on these tapes would range from original material to popular songs that he would tweak with better hooks. It was during this phase that he crafted and improved upon his song writing ability.
Eventually his tape landed into the hands of Eminem., who was so enamored by what he heard he labeled 50 “the illest motherf**ker in the world” and signed him immediately to a $1 million dollar deal.
By now a serious beef with fellow Queens rapper, Ja Rule, had become public. 50 capitalized on this with countless taunts and diss records that ultimately led to the end of Ja Rule’s career. This propelled the hype for his album even more.