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50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin” Album Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

50 Cent
Shady/Aftermath

By the time Eminem signed 50 Cent to his Shady Records imprint in 2002, Fif had already made a name for himself in the New York mixtape circuit.

With Em and Dr. Dre behind him, the Queens rapper quickly gained attention from all major music outlets and fans alike. Much like Tupac, his bullying attitude earned him a reputation and it didn’t hurt that he wasn’t shy about going after already successful rappers like Ja Rule — 50 aimed his track ‘Wanksta’ at him — and basically every notable rapper on his mixtape hit ‘How to Rob.’

Aside from his bodyguard-like build often shown off under a bulletproof vest, which added to his street appeal, he came with the street-cred authenticity of surviving nine gunshots. On Feb. 6, 2003, if people had yet to hear his now classic ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’,’  they had already heard his story and it was clear his hard rep was certainly nothing to mess with.

‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’’ debuted at No. 1, selling 872,000 in its first week. By December 2003, the effort had gone six times platinum, making it the sixth best-selling hip-hop album in the U.S. at that time. The LP was even nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2004 Grammy Awards, though OutKast‘s ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ won in the category.

Listening to the critically acclaimed release 10 years later, it’s hard to argue that there’s been a more prominent premiere since Fiddy’s ‘In da Club’ barrelled onto dance floors everywhere. A tough beat with perfectly spaced hand claps and the appropriate amount of glossiness made it an easy crossover hit and it sailed to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 40 chart; today it stands strong as a hip-hop party anthem for a new generation.

Even with his gruff delivery and a bullet lodged in his jaw, 50 Cent easily carried off the softer Nate Dogg-assisted single ‘21 Questions.’ Despite Dre’s initial misgivings about him showing his sensitive thug side, the song — his second hit — possibly helped his image. He became a more likeable figure, especially with the ladies, and the song certified him as a radio mainstay while ‘P.I.M.P.’ took over airwaves shortly after.

Lyrically, Fif came with lines like, “Don’t think you safe ‘cause you moved out the hood / ‘Cause your momma’s still around, dog, and that ain’t good,” on ‘Heat’ — the metallic sound of a loaded clip made itself clear. On ‘Many Men,’ he tells the story of his alleged shooter, which resulted in the gunman’s death just weeks later. Everyone knew at this point that he was raw, no fictionalizing necessary. As he says in the song, “Now it’s clear I’m here for a real reason / ‘Cause he got hit like I got hit, but he ain’t f—ing breathing.”

While his later releases still made an impact and carried the same catchy hooks as the songs on ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’,’ they turned off hardcore hip-hop heads as he, like many rappers before him, became more and more distanced from his hood experiences and instead sat comfortably atop the charts as a pop-rapper. However, 50 Cent’s music opened the floodgates for street-wise rappers like Young Jeezy and unquestionably changed the game forever.

Watch 50 Cent’s ‘In da Club’ Video

Listen to 50 Cent’s ‘Poor Lil Rich’

Watch 50 Cent’s ’21 Questions’ Video

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