50 cent is an American hip-hop artist with international acclaim in the entertainment industry in form of awards, album sales, and earnings. In addition to this, he is a well-informed businessperson with dealings that have earned him millions of dollars in his business ventures. This paper will highlight his career from his tough beginnings, his entry and success in the entertainment industry, his profitable business dealings, and his present legal and financial woes.
He was born Curtis James Jackson III July 6, 1976 in Jamaican Queens, New York City. His grandmother raised him from the age of eight and was dealing drugs by the age of 12. At the age of 16, after serving six months in boot camp prison for possession of a weapon and drugs, he decided to turn his life’s direction. He had an interest in music and after getting a mentor, 50 Cent honed his skills and got the notice of the hip-hop industry. His reputation as a controversial rapper got him into trouble where it led to an attempt on his life and had his first contract terminated before even releasing his debut album and blacklisted by the recording labels. He overcame these insurmountable challenges to become one of the most successful hip-hop artistes and affluent businessperson in his era. His appeal as an artist is in part because of his music that depicts his dangerous real life experiences in his journey to success and another part due to his obvious talent.
The early life of Curtis Jackson was tough; at eight years, he became an orphan and moved to live with his grandmother. He soon became a drug dealer and quickly rose through the ranks of a local drug cartel with his natural talent in business and risk taking. He served six month in a juvenile center after he was guilty of possession of a weapon in school. At this point, Curtis Jackson decided to turn his life around. After he got out, he went into music and was introduced to and mentored by Jam Master Jay of the hip-hop group Run-DMC. He discovered a passion for music and learned the basics of music; rhythm, song structure and choruses. In addition to these, he got exposure to recording equipment that would have been otherwise difficult to access and introduced to the industry networks. He recorded an album that remains unreleased due to delays in writing and production.
One of 50 Cent’s best hits was an underground record known as `How to Rob,’ that led him to the notice of major hip-hop artistes and music industry executives, and was signed to Columbia Records in 1999. He was set to release his debut album, `Power of the Dollar’ in 2000, but was cut short in May of that year when an attempt on his life hospitalized him for a number of months. An assassin shot him nine times, at point blank range, in front of his grandmother’s house, on his way to a music video shoot. His rivalry with fellow rapper, Ja- Rule and his crew named Murder. Inc. had caught up with him even before his career had taken off. Columbia Records dropped him as a signed artist, citing his recent altercations. He went to recovery where he continued working on music. To vent his frustrations, he released a record called, `Ghetto Quran’ that exposed the inside secrets of the drug trade and streets, mentioning involvement of a well-known gangster and Murder Inc. This led to his blacklisting, where no recording company could record his songs.
He persisted with making mixtapes and singles and finally got the notice of Dr. Dre and Eminem who signed him to Shady Aftermath and released his debut album; Interscope distributed the album. He released his debut album titled, `Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in 2003, which was the first step in his meteoric rise to stardom. It sold 872,000 copies in its first four days of sale and reached the five million mark in by the end of the year. One of the singles of the album, `In Da Club’, topped The Billboard Top 100 for nine straight weeks. His next album released was, `The Massacre’ in 2005 and followed up with later releases, `Curtis’ in 2007, and `Before I Self Destruct’ in 2009, of which did not garner as much success as his debut. To date, he has toured the world extensively in promotion of his music, made millions in sales, royalties and concerts, released numerous singles and six studio albums, excluding the Unreleased Columbia Records, `Power of the Dollar’ meant for 2000 .
Consequently, he has turned his brand, 50 Cent, a marketable gangster persona, to a profitable venture and has participated in many roles and endorsements in the entertainment industry. He has diversified to book publishing, technology, fragrances, liquor, artist and talent management, clothing and footwear, TV and film production, and health drinks and supplements. Furthermore, he manages a massive financial empire that spans several sectors including, boxing promotions, mining, financial market investments, real estate, and fashion.
One of his first business ventures was a partnership with a company called Glaceau to create an enhanced water drink named Formula50. He got a share of the company in exchange of being the company celebrity spokesperson. After promoting the brand successfully, Coca Cola purchased the company for $4.1 billion, of which 50 Cent made $100 million from the deal. In Film, G-Unit Films and Television are presently renowned for their TV project known as Power, a highly rated series that a leading TV network purchased. He further demonstrates his business acumen in his involvement in a Dutch vodka brand known as Effen Vodka, as a minority shareholder and brand ambassador.
He is also a philanthropist; He started the G-Unity Foundation soon after he achieved success in 2003, which has since then; formed a community garden, offered College grants to numerous institutions, and participated in many community events. Additionally, in 2011, he launched an initiative with an aim to feed one billion Africans in need by 2016, through a partnership with the Pure Growth Partners to launch an energy drink, Street King. In this initiative, for every bottle of the energy drink bought, a portion of the profits goes to feed an unfortunate child in Africa. He also founded SMS Audio that sells headphones and earphones to an international market and for each headphone bought; it donates meals through a charity named Feeding America that caters to the less fortunate in the United States.
Ironically, the second-highest earning Hip Hop artist in 2007 filed for bankruptcy in July 2015, this is most likely because of his high-level spending habits. His expenditure on lavish vehicles and maintenance renovations to his mansion are some of the ways he spent his fortune. Additionally, 50 Cent faced legal losses that further lead to his bankruptcy. A Federal judge ordered 50 Cent to pay $17 million to Sleek Audio, in a case where the 50 Cent owned, G-Unit Records Headphones copied Sleek Audio’s designs. Furthermore, posting a sex-tape online that featured his rival’s, Rick Ross, past lover caused him further financial loss; a court ordered him to pay damages amounting to $7 million, after the woman sued him. This chain of events and decisions by him led to his bankruptcy.
50 cent, in a recent TV interview claimed filing for bankruptcy was a strategy, and with his past record of an adept business acumen, he could probably be making the necessary moves to protect himself. However, after surviving nine gunshot wounds, and rising to the height of stardom that few artists have experienced in their lifetime, this latest series of Challenges might be an obstacle in the race of life.