You Just Don’t Know 50

Article Gregory Gonzales

People just don’t know how big it was when 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ dropped in 2003. I was a junior in high school, and my first copy was a burned CD I got from a friend. I popped it into my stereo, and when I heard the first track, I knew it was special. It was as if everything he said was meant to be said. Nearly everybody at school was singing his lyrics.  

Personally, I wasn’t satisfied with his album. I wanted more, so my friend burned me copies of his underground stuff, mixtapes, and earlier albums. I thought they were gems. He was raw in his early days, but when he got with Dr. Dre and Eminem, he smoothed his craft. It was no wonder that his breakthrough album went platinum nine times. The rap industry was shaken to its core. Nobody worth knowing messed with 50.  

His magic was that his attitude was straight up ruthless. After being shot nine times and stabbed twice, he had a chip on his shoulder, and you could hear it. It was attractive. It was as if he was walking through the hall and people stood aside. That was 50, and his music was something to be reckoned with.  

I was always bumping his songs in my bedroom, or from my brother’s truck, or inside the garage. He had this warrior thing about him, and he took charge of his style. I swear he was on another level and Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ was a colossal hit, no question.  

At school people could tell you the track list by heart, and one day I remember a friend of mine telling me the songs she liked, counting fingers on one hand and then switching over to the other.