An Interview With 50 Cent
DISCUSSED: Russell Simmons, The Sopranos, Kanye, Lil Wayne, Detroit, marriage, Hillary Clinton, and asparagus.
By Ben Westhoff
Recently, I met up with 50 at G-Unit Clothing headquarters on 23rd Street, which boasts a faux-library of gold-painted books and topless ebony mannequins. In the flesh, Curtis Jackson III repped his brand loyalties by wearing a white Yankees cap, white Reeboks, and having the office stocked with more Vitamin Water than one person could drink. He was shorter, but just as thick, as I'd imagined, and much, much nicer. Charming, in fact, and generous with his time. He answered thirty minutes of my questions--complete with compulsory Kanye, Fat Joe and Lil Wayne disses--and would probably have gone another thirty if I'd asked.
How would you describe the impact of "I Get Money"?
That record has impacted in a way that you can't gauge. Hands down it's the hottest record in the nightclub.
What's your favorite song on Curtis?
"Man Down." It's censored, though. Even on the dirty version.
I think companies are sensitive to the nonsense that goes on in the media.
The Russell Simmons stuff?
Yeah, totally that. While that's there, they want to avoid any possibilities of CDs being pulled off the shelves, with record sales the way they are.
Do you disagree with Simmons about self-censorship in rap?
I think he displayed to everyone that he aspires to pursue politics. I just think he was being politically correct. He said, "The rappers should censor themselves." It's the middle [ground].
Do you think he's going to run for governor?
One of these days you'll see him running. I'ma vote for him, too.
What's the question you're most sick of hearing right now?
It's impossible for them not to ask me a competition question, with Kanye West. But I don't see him as my competition. We're so different as artists. He doesn't have my sales history. I feel like his company's done a great job of promoting him by putting him out on the same date. Because we're from the same [genre] to some people we're just the same, period.
And, you're expected to do better, so. . .
If he even comes close to me, it's going to look great [for him]. And they'll probably do everything within their powers to make that happen for him.
Do you think he's trying to appeal to white kids?
Absolutely. With the record that he's releasing, it's [clear] that he doesn't care about the same audience. We'll see who it actually matters to create for.
There's not a lot of significance in my being successful--there's a lot of successful people. The difference is my not having to compromise myself in any way. Not everything that comes out of my mouth is something you would hear from a role model. I'm inspiring to different classes of people out there, who have similar experiences. My CD reflects the harsh realities.