With it came his exit from Columbia (bad call, Columbia), but this in turn led him to an intrigued Eminem and Dr Dre. The two first men of hip-hop even created a label for him, Shady/Aftermath, with Eminem citing the fact that in an industry notorious for bragging, 50 Cent was the real thing. Six million copies of “Get Rich Or Die Tryin” down the line, the trio can safely be described as the most powerful in the US music business.
“I talk to Em a lot more than with Dre. Dre’s busy making hits. But he’s so wise. Jimmy (lovine, the man who signed Eminem) always says, ‘I hope you’re smart like Dre.’ Dre gave me the greatest advice. Dre says, ‘You’re the underdog. Everyone loves to see underdog win, but after you win you’re no longer the underdog. If you win consecutively, then you’re the favorite. Nobody wants the favorite to win. Try and win as the favorite.’ That’s my next job.”
What does he talk to Eminem about?
“Well, we don’t talk about our dads,” he deadpans. “There’s nobody more excited about making new things work than Eminem. He’s always experimenting, he’s got a fucking musical chemistry set. He’s so blessed. The first film he make, 8 mile, it wins an Oscar. Did Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley win Oscar with their first movies? No way! He is unique. Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, they tried so hard to break the film world but they don’t come near… that’s what we talk about. How to get to the next level. We talk about that a lot. I love that guy.”
One guy he loves less is Ja Rule. A spat that started over an acquaintance of 50’s robbing Ja Rule has rapidly escalated. Firstly, with 50 seriously taking the piss on the ‘Wanksta’ single and then into a series of scuffles between their respective G-Unit and Murder Inc crews (during one fight at the Hit Factory studios in NYC, one of Murder Inc is alleged to have stabbed 50: “It was a scratch,” laughs 50). Since then, an obviously riled Rule has attempted to turn the heat up, most notably in a recent XXL interview during which he and Murder Inc boss Irv Gotti tried for the best part of five pages to chip away at 50’s street reputation. 50 – whose album sales have dwarfed Ja’s for ‘The Last Temptation’ – Thinks the whole thing is ridiculous.
“Man, last year they weren’t talking about me because last year – who was 50 Cent? Now, that’s all they can talk about. I’m done with it. I don’t sell a single recorded more because of Ja Rule, but every time I talk about him I’m doing him a favor. He’s over. The guy sucks! Ja Rule sucks. Every song is the same. It’s always about a relationship, it always has a chick singing the chorus, it’s always the same formula. I did something different and he can’t change. He need to do something new, but he can’t. And now people have realized it, it’s over. Ashanti sells the most records on Murder Inc.”
He shrugs, laughing, with amazement, as if he can’t believe that nobody else has noticed. Does he ever worry about something like this escalating, about hip-hop’s rich history of martyrs?
“Well, I wear a bulletproof vest! But when it’s my time, it’s my time. I ain’t real religious and I curse a lot. But I believe in a higher power and I’m going upstairs. I ain’t going downstairs. I believe in karma. I paid my price for some shit I got away with when I got shot, I’m going to heaven, just not yet.”
Nope, now he’s off to do a show. One of his entourage throws him his bulletproof vest. Does he have to wear it whenever he goes out?
“No,” he says, tossing it over his enormous shoulders. “I normally wear it inside too, but I didn’t want to scare you.”
Then, doing up the vest and laughing to himself – “Don’t get scared hehehehe!” – he steps through the hotel door and out into another evening’s work.