50 Cent’s life has always been an open book. Since he rose to fame with his record-breaking 2003 album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, he’s been regarded as one of rap’s most authentic figures, his rags-to-riches story inspiring thousands to pursue their own ambitions with the same intensity that made Cent the leading light of the ‘Gangsta’ rap movement. Here, we take a look at his five favourite rappers of all time.
Cent was born in 1976 in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Queens, New York, An area that had also provided the early stomping ground of a number of pioneering rappers, including LL important rappers, including LL Cool J and the female trio Salt N’ Pepa.
From an early age, Cent was aware that his neighbourhood wasn’t like others. Yes, it had birthed some of the most important names in hip-hop, but it was also plagued by gang violence and drugs. Cent’s own mother was just 15 when he was born in the July of ‘76 and turned to drug-dealing as a way of putting bread on the table. By the time Cent was in elementary school, his mother was one of the most renowned drug dealers on the streets of Queens. By the time he turned eight, she was dead. “Someone put something in her drink and turned the gas on,” Cent once said. “After that, every time something went wrong I’d think, ‘If my mother was here it wouldn’t be like that.'”
As a result of his mother’s premature death, Cent was raised by his grandmother. It wasn’t what you’d call a relaxing home environment. Cent was just one of nine children under the same rough, so spent much of his time on the streets. He quickly fell in with the wrong crowd and ended up selling crack cocaine when he was just 12 years old. Describing his motivations for drug-dealing, Cent explained that he didn’t want to burden his grandma: “I didn’t want to ask her for a pair of Air Jordans when I knew she couldn’t afford them,” he began, “so I began working to get my stuff and not stress her out.
By the age of 19, 50 Cent was earning around $150,000 a month from selling drugs. He’d dropped out of school long ago and was in and out of jail on a frequent basis. And all the while he was listening to the likes of KRS-1, Rakim, and Run-DMC, hoping that some of their genii might rub off on his own rhymes. He dreamed of stepping into the music industry and escaping the life he’d built for himself, but it wasn’t until the birth of his son, Marquise, that this escape became an absolute necessity.
Over the next few year’s his talents blossomed under the supervision of rap pioneer Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC. “He was really patient with me,” once said. “I would come in with rhymes, almost free verse, and he explained that they had to fit 16 bars of music. Once he said it, I got it.”
Soon enough, 50 Cent was an essential part of the New York hip-hop scene and came to the attention of Detroit rapper Eminem, with whom Cent would collaborate in The Green Mile and his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The rest, as they say, is history.
Make sure you check out the list of 50 Cent’s favourite rappers below.
50 Cent’s 5 favourite rappers:
- Biggie Smalls