50 Cent has endured as one of the most dynamic musical artists of his generation. He emerged on the hip-hop landscape with 2003’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’, an album that decidedly changed his life forever. Known formally as Mr. Curtis James Jackson, III, 50 Cent became a hip-hop icon, and would go on to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the greatest artists in his genre, including Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Eminem (the latter one of his mentors). He is lauded for his pithy cut-to-the bone lyric style, his versatility as a rapper and his dangerous persona. The energy 50 Cent brings to his compositions informs his musical endeavors, as well the worlds he has entered as an actor, author, television producer and entrepreneur.
The heart of this “hustle harder” survivor was born well before all this. Many are familiar with the brutal backstory from his youth. His high and low points have been well documented through his years as a public figure. He made his bones in a once notorious New York City neighborhood (South Jamaica, Queens), where he struggled to save his soul–as did many young men and women who hailed from that difficult area. Ultimately, 50 would get out—big time. He learned to navigate the violent and tragic waters of familial trauma, crime, drugs and urban decay during the darkest days of New York’s crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. Deep down, he knew he had game. That New York Hustle–that edge–would help him rise, though not without experiencing missteps and pitfalls. His story resonates because it’s equal parts inspiration and cautionary tale. 50 Cent would ultimately overcome much of that early trauma, but not without experiencing both glory and misery in the process.