Many interesting and exciting rappers emerged during the early-2000s. The era produced many household names, from Lil Wayne to Eminem and Kanye. However, one musician-turned-media mogul ruled the airwaves and took over hip-hop during this period, and that is the legendary 50 Cent. The rapper (real name Curtis Jackson) exploded onto the scene in 2003 and, in no time, was competing with the likes of Jay-Z concerning record sales.
Although Jackson wasn’t known internationally until 2003, he had been a formidable force on the New York underground for an extended period before he stepped into the limelight. Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, the Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ act had signed various deals before partnering with Shady Records. However, nothing had come of them.
Jackson had released mixtapes and even recorded an album in the late ’90s. However, his criminal past and ongoing tribulations made him somewhat of a liability for record labels who were hesitant to invest in him. Following a string of mixtape releases on a local level, Jackson was spotted in the late 1990s by the iconic DJ Jam Master Jay. Seeing 50 Cent’s potential, the Run-DMC star took Jackson under his wing to help him acquire industry contacts. Utilising these, by 1999, 50 Cent had become so prominent in New York that he ended up signing a deal with the renowned Columbia Records.
However, this would only last for a while. According to the emcee, he was rushed and coerced into releasing his debut album, Power of the Dollar. Still, following a shooting, both he and his project were shelved. Luckily for the Queens musician, another artist had their eye on him. This was Eminem, and in 2001, he signed with Shady Records and Aftermath Entertainment. This was Jackson’s turning point.
With Dr Dre and Eminem at his side, the lyricist could begin crafting a debut album properly and carefully. Aftermath entrepreneur Dr Dre (real name Andre Young) is a revered super producer within the culture and, as such, oversaw the project’s production in an executive capacity. Although other beatmakers like Scott Storch contributed to the body of work, the producer was the master behind the hits, including the album’s iconic hit single ‘In Da Club.’
‘In Da Club’ was produced by Dr Dre in conjunction with Mike Elizondo and was initially meant to be recorded by Eminem’s rap-rock group D-12 for the 8 Mile soundtrack. However, with the collective failing to come up with something of substance, Young presented Jackson with the beat, who quickly snatched it up. According to Elizondo, who was in the studio alongside 50 when he was presented with the instrumental, the Queens act wrote the song in an hour and recorded his vocals on the same night. ‘In Da Club’ was 50 Cent’s first release on a major label. However, his mixtapes were still running rampant on the underground.
Speaking on Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, Dr Dre told MTV News, “50’s album, in my opinion, is going to compete with all the classic Hip Hop records that have come out over the last ten years. Illmatic, The Chronic, Ready to Die, The Marshall Mathers LP, it’s right up there.” Although the track was primarily produced by Dr Dre, LA producer DJ Quik helped Dre beef up the drums. In an interview with The Village Voice, Quik unveiled, “I helped Dr. Dre with the drums. I gave him those claps, and that kick.”
‘In Da Club’ became a huge hit, debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for nine weeks. The single’s music video won an award for Best Rap Video at the 2003 VMA’s but never received a Grammy despite being one of the year’s biggest songs. Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold over 872,000 copies in its first week. You can listen to ‘In Da Club’ in the video below.