Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, is a rapper, actor, producer and entrepreneur whose rags-to-riches story is arguably the greatest in hip-hop history.
Jackson was born and raised in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. He grew up without a father, and his mother was murdered when he was just 8 years old. Jackson started selling drugs at 12 years old, and at 19 he was arrested, charged and sentenced for possession of crack cocaine, heroin and a firearm.
Following his early release, he shifted his focus to music, started to write rap songs and secured a record deal with Jam Master Jay. Jackson eventually signed a record deal with Columbia Records but was dropped by the label after he was shot nine times in 2000. He survived the assassination attempt, but rather than back down, he released a slew of records dissing his enemies.
Jackson pioneered the mixtape as a promotional tool, and his tireless work ethic, ferocious delivery, gritty style and melodic hooks eventually caught the ear of Dr. Dre and Eminem. He signed a record deal with Shady-Aftermath in 2002 and released his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin, in 2003.
The album went platinum nine times, and Rolling Stone included it on its list of the greatest albums of all time, writing that Jackson was the first rapper to “sell a million [units] for each time he had gotten shot.” His albums have sold a combined 30 million units since. For many, this would’ve been the peak, but for Jackson, his success as a musician was just the beginning.
A hustler to the core, he partnered with Glacéau, the parent company of VitaminWater, and launched Formula 50. His minority equity stake netted him $100 million when the company sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007, according to Forbes. His pace hasn’t slowed since.
In late 2018, Jackson inked a long-term partnership with Starz worth an estimated $150 million, and since then he’s executive produced, directed and co-starred in Power, the number show on Starz and the second most popular show on premium cable at time of its release.
He now has over 20 film and television projects lined up, including a role in The Expendables, which he’ll star in alongside Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone and Megan Fox. And this Sunday, September 26, his show BMF will premiere on Starz.
I’ve followed Jackson’s career since I was child, so I was blessed to speak with 50 Cent for 50 minutes and learn about what it took for him to survive the streets, rise above his rivals and succeed in the business world. Read on for a brief summary of a few key takeaways, or watch the full interview below. It’ll be the best 50-minute investment you make, trust me.
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