If you were alive in the early to mid-2000’s, you had no choice but to hear hip-hop music from a few places. Lil Jon and Usher were all over the place, Ludacris was making albums every year, and Kanye West was just starting to hit his stride.
But there was another man who burned as bright as any of them. His music was in commercials, on the radio and in movies. His face was in magazines, on TV and in a movie about his own life (although the movie was technically made about the major-label debut album about his own life). His money was on display on MTV, in Forbes and in all of his music videos (although these rarely played on MTV because, well, you know).
I’m talking, of course, about Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
While we could commit 40,000 words in dissecting his discography for its endless supply of Excellent Rap Lyrics, it’s better to just take it one at a time. By the time 2004’s album The Massacre came out, 50 had established himself as one of the top-selling rappers in the industry and one of the hottest names in the game. He had proven that he’d lived through some serious shit – dealing drugs, getting shot, going to prison – and had come out the other side, stepping into massive superstardom.
People knew he was hard, knew he was tough, knew he would shoot a dude if need be, but did they know that he could just hang out and be a cool dude?
Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about by examining the first verse of the album’s third single, “Just a Lil Bit”:
“I step up in the club, I’m like who you with
G-Unit in the house, yeah that’s my clique
Yeah I’m young, but a n**** from the old school
On the dance floor, a n**** doin’ old moves
I don’t give a fuck, I do what I wan’ do
I hit your ass up, boy I done warned you.”
In classic 50 Cent fashion, he’s letting you know that he is not concerned with your opinion of him. He’s telling you, dear listener, that he’s comfortable with who he is – he might even be saying that you should be, too.
Forget “Dance like nobody’s watching,” 50 Cent “don’t give a fuck, I do what I wan’ do.” That’s right, he’s not worried about whether he looks stupid or spills a drink or does the MC Hammer dance a decade later. 50’s gonna do 50.
Inspirational. This should go on motivational posters worldwide. But 50 isn’t done.
“I ain’t tryna beef, I’m tryna get my drink on
Got my diamonds, my fitted, and my mink on
I’ma kick it at the bar till it’s time to go
Then I’ma get shorty here and I’ma let her know…”
This song is also about sex. The grooved-out beat, the velvety voice, the bragging – it’s about sex. And the ellipsis at the end of that quotation is leading directly to just what kinds of sex acts ol’ Curtis here is jonesing for, but we don’t need to get into that.
Instead, look at 50 embracing who he is again! He’s wearing the clothes that make him look and feel good, and he’s not wearing them to spark a fight. He’s not trying to wear blue in the Bloods’ part of town. He’s not trying to tell anyone that they’re worse than him or throw drinks or anything like that. 50 is just gonna sit back and channel Lloyd Christmas: dressed to impress, he’s gonna stay by the bar and put out the vibe.
The notable difference, of course, is that 50 probably does “get shorty here” instead of being stood up at the hotel lobby bar at ten in the morning.
Good for you, 50. We’re all very proud.