Prior to his explosion onto the mainstream in 2002, 50 Cent was a prevalent figure on the New York underground. Especially in his neighbourhood of Queens. In the late 1990s, Jackson was under the wing of the iconic DJ Jam Master Jay. As the former DJ of Run-DMC, he had a wealth of connections in the business and made it his mission to help Jackson acquire industry contacts.
By way of networking, in 1999, due to his indisputable prominence and popularity in New York, 50 Cent ended up signing a deal with the renowned Columbia Records, where he recorded his mixtape Power Of The Dollar. However, while he was with Jam Master Jay, the artist (real name Curtis Jackson) learnt some important lessons.
The late Jason Mizell, also known as Jam Master Jay, was a recording artist, producer and DJ, most known for being part of the legendary Queens-based hip-hop group Run-DMC. As part of Run-DMC, along with his crew members Joseph ‘Run’ Simmons and Darryl ‘D.M.C.’ McDaniels, Mizell helped pioneer hip hop during the 1980s and produced some of their biggest hits.
However, during the late-90s, Mizell was functioning as a producer for up-and-coming East Coast acts. With his studio based in the Jamaica neighbourhood of Queens, it is unsurprising that he ran into 50 Cent during the early stages of his career, as this is where Jackson lived with his grandmother.
JMJ Records was Mizell’s self-established record label at the time, and he had already helped the epic duo Onyx land a record deal. In a 2015 interview with The Big Issue, 50 Cent explained the set-up of JMJ, unveiling, “I met Jam-Master Jay from Run-D.M.C., and he had his label, which would take people on and develop them until they were ready to go to a major.”
He continued, “Jay taught me how to count bars – and when the chorus should start and stop. And I kept practising. Sometimes, hard work beats talent. I wrote all the time, and so I got better and better.”
However, this wasn’t the only thing Jackson learned. Speaking to the hosts of Power 107.5 FM, Fifty also revealed, “The biggest lesson I learned from Jam Master Jay when I was working with him was to not fall in love with the music. If it’s what you think it is, great — we need another one. You gotta appreciate it, like it, and then move to the next one.” You can hear 50 Cent speaking about his relationship with Mizell in the video below.