Love him or hate him, 50 Cent has cast his bullet-proof shadow over the
hip-hop scene since his record-smashing debut album was released, almost
three years ago to the day.
A second album, bio-pic, video game, and more rap feuds than the Sesame
Street Dracula could count later, BangkokRecorder sat down with Curtis James
Jackson III a few hours before he stepped onstage in Bangkok with his G-Unit
Under increasing fire from anti-violence protestors, 50 broke his silence on
being dissed by Spike Lee, why Dr Dre's Detox album has yet to be released
and why he can't pose like James Bond.
BR: Tonight, are you going to perform any differently than you usually do?
50: Yes. I'll stop some of the dialogue, some of the talking in between the
actual music and get straight to the music. I know there'll be a couple of
people there that don't understand English.
BR: You're going to be in a movie soon with Samuel L. Jackson about the Iraq
War. What's your role in the movie?
50: My character's 22 years old. [The movie] shows the effects of war.
That's what's exciting to me about it, because it's totally relevant to
what's going on right now. It shows not just what happens to a person after
killing, but what happens when there's a lot of death around you. How your
I actually went to perform for the soldiers in Iraq. I'm not supportive of
the war, but I'm definitely supportive of the soldiers. A lot of people go
[to Iraq] who were just trying to get a college education.
BR: In the movie, part of it is going to be filmed in Morocco?
50: Yeah, I actually go straight to Morocco from Bangkok.
BR: Hip-hop has become the most popular music in the world in the last 10
years or so. Do you think that anti-Americanism is ever going to reach a
point where fans will reject your albums and merchandise because of your
50: I don't believe so. And I think that hip-hop is evolving to a point even
further than just artists being able to move around internationally and sell
music. In every one of the different markets I've been, I've seen people who
speak different languages doing their whole art form. In [international]
music videos, you can mute the television and look and it's just like what
we do. The same format, you know, and it's exciting to see that the art form
BR: Why was your show in South Korea cancelled?
50: South Korea? I'm not even sure. It was probably something to do with the
promoters. Because I've been everywhere: Nigeria, Iraq, Dubai.
BR: How has touring around the world given you a different perspective on
the United States and what it means to be an American?
50: Wow, it gives you a different perspective just by being able to see the
difference, of everyone else, where they live, their lifestyle. Because
that's the major difference. We have small pieces of everything that is
outside of the country in the U.S., but not at that high a level. Like, look
at the different foods. You have Mexican food or Chinese food or Japanese
food. Every different place, those different, smaller things that are there
for you to make reference to it, until you actually get to that area and go,
'Wow. Wait, this is not the Chinese food that I had [in the U.S.].
BR: How do you respond when members of the African-American
community, such as Spike Lee, criticize you for allegedly glorifying
50: You know what? Since I been overseas I heard that Spike Lee said
something. You know, what's weird to me is, initially no one said 50 Cent
glorified violence when I released my first album, Get Rich or Die Tryin',
They knew I was experiencing that actual violence that I wrote about on the
album. I was actually going through those things when I wrote it. And,
afterwards, there's been so much violence projected on me. Like anything
violent that goes on, they kind of put me to it.
For instance, I think Spike Lee's new motivation for talking about me had
something to do with the incident with Busta Rhymes' bodyguard. The
newspapers came out and said that I was there. I wasn't even in the state
when it happened and wasn't even in the country by the time Spike Lee was
mentioning it! You see what I'm saying? But, to his knowledge, I was there.
Cause, Spike Lee's not a friend of mine.
You know, I've seen a couple of his movies. I actually dislike the part in
his movies where the character stands still [and the camera pans back] and
it looks like [the character] moves. I think that's the corniest thing on
BR: Like in Crooklyn?
50: Yeah, he does it in all of the movies. He'll just stop and he'll have
the camera moving instead of the actual character.
I think it's difficult to control [the misrepresentations]. Because whenever
you become public property, you have to adjust to people's opinions. But you
can't allow that to affect your day-to-day. I know what's important to me
and what I'm doing creatively. I can't tell you, a journalist, 'well you
have a responsibility to write what you want the person that's reading.' You
could be a journalist writing the actual story, but it's your fault because
you have a responsibility too - to not give people anything that inspires
them to be bad. Which means that we think all the information in every story
that we receive through our media outlets should be censored. But instead,
you want to place those standards just on 50 Cent, just on music. And not
even apply it to larger forms of entertainment, like film.
They protested my [Get Rich or Die Tryin'] poster boards because I had a gun
in the poster boards. But how often have we seen guns utilized for the
marketing of a film? For 007, they put a gun pointing straight at you in the
logo. I've seen the The Matrix, how many guns did you see in that? All of
these action films. You know what cheap action is? [Makes hand into shape of
a gun and makes a gunshot noise] A gunshot. It's a blank and a squib that
explodes on your chest. That's cheap. Five dollars. We can do it for like
five dollars. [Imitating a director] 'Let's shoot it again. Wait, let's
shoot this scene again.' And guess what? The movie's no good if it doesn't
look real. I think that visuals are more effective than sound, so they
should apply those standards harder on film than they should on music. But
it's easier to attack one thing. Like, you're attacking one person when you
say you have a problem with it. And, I don't know if Spike Lee actually has
a problem with 50 Cent, 50 Cent's image or the things that are being
projected on me, or if he just needs new press and publicity. It's something
for us all to look at, you know? Like when you decide from out of nowhere to
mention it. Who's Spike Lee? Spike Lee's not relevant to 50 Cent. He's not
even in my life. I could care less about him. And to say that he has a
problem with my image or what I'm doing creatively, it means nothing to me,
BR: Are you going to be on Dre's album, Detox?
50: Well, Detox, when it actually comes out, I'll be on it. People have been
anticipating this record for a long time, and I feel like Dre always comes
through. It's going to be something special, but he takes his time with it.
More than normal, you know, because he's such a perfectionist.
You know what it is? The saying, 'there's a shadow of doubt cast over every
artist in between projects.' Because, when you deal with the general public
you deal with the world people. And a lot of people aren't successful
because they don't believe in themselves. And if they don't believe in
themselves, how could [they] expect anyone to believe in [them] as an
artist? After a while they [don't] start going, 'do you think 50 Cent can
make a good record,' but 'do you think he can do it again? Do you think he
can make an album that does as well as his first one again?' And I went
through that going into The Massacre. I couldn't understand it at first
because I had so much consistency with the other material that I released;
having everybody that I released through my record label scan over a million
records. I sat around and I kind of thought about it, and said things to him
and he just goes, 'well, they gonna do that anyway.' And I felt like they
was doubting that I would do it again when I got ready to do my second
But Dre, I think he feels that pressure because he has to beat the last
thing that he's done. And while we might be thinking about The Chronic, he
might be thinking about Get Rich or Die Tryin', and "In Da Club." So he
feels like his record has to be bigger than that last record that he made.
It's difficult. I'll hear music and I'll be like, 'look . I need this beat.'
Like, how we do all of these out-of-control records? We do the records in
the studio. And he'll be making new records because he'll be like, 'yeah,
that was cool, but.' And he'll move on to something else. And I'm like,
'Wait a minute. This one. Give me this! I know what to do with this. You can
stay in the studio and make records if that's what you want to do. Let me go
to Bangkok with this one.' [Laughs] It's a process for him, so you just kind
of got to be patient with Detox and Dre's records. But, I'm looking forward
Interview by BangkokRecorder.com