50 Cent is one of the wealthiest men in hip-hop. Since his explosion onto the scene in the early-2000s, the Queens rapper (real name Curtis Jackson) has become a mogul of epic proportions. From production companies to record labels, the former G-unit emcee has become a self-made multi-millionaire.
Born and raised in the South Jamaica neighbourhood of New York, Jackson was discovered by Eminem following the release of his 1999 debut mixtape, Guess Who’s Back? Shortly after its release, he signed with Eminem’s Shady Records under Interscope and began work on his debut album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, which is widely considered legendary.
Jackson’s first project boasts a plethora of multi-platinum hits. From ‘In Da Club’ to ‘P.I.M.P’ Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ undoubtedly contains a lot of anthems. However, one of the most exciting tracks from the album is its second single, ’21 Questions,’ featuring the legendary west coast rapper Nate Dogg. Released on March 4th, 2003, the iconic track peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining there for four consecutive weeks. Produced by Canadian beatmaker Dirty Swift, the instrumental samples the 1978 soul track ‘It’s Only Love Doing Its Thing’ by Barry White.
The international smash that hit the charts in several European countries has an interesting backstory that 50 Cent recently unveiled to Ari Melber. Deep in conversation with the MSNBC host, the Queens native explained how the project’s executive producer, Dr Dre, initially didn’t want the single to appear on the album. Delving into the Compton mogul’s reaction to the track, Jackson explained, “[Dre] said, ‘I know what this is. It’s N.W.A with just one member and you really don’t need it,'” 50 said around the 11-minute mark. “He didn’t know why I wanted to put the record on.”
According to the ‘Candy Shop’ emcee, Dr Dre (real name Andre Young) described ’21 Questions’ as a “sappy love song.” However, Jackson wrote the track for a specific reason and was insistent the track be featured on the album. Explaining to Melber why he penned the lyrics, 50 Cent explained, “[he] wanted ladies to feel like maybe they could fix me, and I had done so many push-ups. So I felt like, ‘This is gonna be good for my love life!’ I’m dead serious.”
He continued, “I thought that they would see some way that they could possibly fix me or understand me in a different way. And their favourite line on the song was, ‘I love you like a fat kid loves cake.’ When I wrote it, I was thinking, I love you, but too much of you is no good for me. Like a fat kid loves cake.”
Luckily for Dre, it was featured on the project as it would end up getting certified four times platinum by the RIAA in 2004 and was so successful it warranted an official remix entitled ’21 Answers’ Free and Lil’ Mo. You can watch Jackson’s MSNC interview and hear ’21 Questions’ in the videos below.