As history shows, rap has spawned numerous stars and figures that have put their stamp on hip-hop and infiltrated pop culture. However, every couple of years, an artist emerges that shifts the paradigm and takes the music industry by storm. Acts on that rap shortlist include Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kanye West and Drake, but arguably the most aggressive of them all is 50 Cent, who turned tragedy into triumph and remains as one of the most legendary and infamous artists of the aughts.
By now, the Southside Jamaica, Queens native’s backstory is common knowledge: Ex drug-dealer and convicted felon-turned-rapper who got shot nine times after a failed record deal, only to emerge from the brink of obscurity to become the hottest free agent in rap history. His classic mixtapes and the beef with Ja Rule and Murder Inc. often dominate the narrative of his career arc, but all of the above would be a footnote without his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, making good on all of the tough-talk and bravado spewed by 50 and exceeding the most lofty of expectations.
Released on Feb. 6, 2003, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ arrived at a interesting time for hip-hop. New York City was still the dominant force in rap, with established superstars like JAY-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Nas and others thriving at the forefront of the culture and selling millions of records. Although hailing from the East Coast himself, 50 Cent, who developed a slight vocal drawl as a result of catching a bullet to the face, was able to build a following across the board and transcend regional borders due to his knack for catchy hooks and refrains.
With hit singles like “In Da Club” and “21 Questions” both topping the Billboard Hot 100, and album cuts like “What Up Gangsta,” “Many Men (Wish Death),” “Heat,” and the scathing Murder Inc. diss track “Back Down” circulating in the streets, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ proved to be the biggest album of the year and was hailed as an instant classic, which it is still considered today.
Fifteen years after the release, 50 Cent may have shifted his attention to interests beyond music, but is still regarded as one of the sharpest and most savvy characters in all of music, a reputation that was first solidified with this album and has led to him becoming a life and business guru.
In celebration of 50 Cent’s classic debut, we highlighted 10 life lessons we all learned from listening to Get Rich or Die Tryin’ that still hold true to this day.
Song: “Patiently Waiting”
Lyric: “In this white man’s world I’m similar to a squirrel/Lookin’ for a slut with a nice butt to get a nut/If I get shot today my phone’ll stop ringin’ again/These industry n***as ain’t friends, they know how to pretend”
Lesson Learned: Industry Rule No. 4080 is one that is not to be forgotten and has proved true time and time again. Know the difference between friends and associates concerned about your best interests and those loyal to their self-interest.
Lyric: “I got pennies for my thoughts, now I’m rich/See the twenties spinnin’ lookin’ mean on the six/N***as wearin’ flags ‘cause the colors match they clothes/They get caught in the wrong hood and filled up with holes, motherf**ker”
Lesson Learned: Being aware of your surroundings and knowing the laws of the land you walk on is a must. It can be the difference between life and death.
Song: “Many Men (Wish Death)”
Lyric: “Sunny days wouldn’t be special if it wasn’t for rain/Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain/Death gotta be easy, ‘cause life is hard/It’ll leave you physically, mentally and emotionally scarred”
Lesson Learned: Being discouraged and feeling disappointed is human, but understand that the peaks and valleys in life provide balance and learn to appreciate and learn from all of your experiences.
Song: “In Da Club”
Lyric: “If the roof on fire, let the motherf**ker burn/If you talkin’ about money, homie, I ain’t concerned/I’ma tell you what Banks told me: “Cuz, go ‘head, switch the style up/If n***as hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up”
Lesson Learned: Many people in life will have opinions on what you say and do, but living for acceptance is one of the fastest routes to disappointment in life. Follow your own spiritual compass, make your own rules and be a legend in your skin.
Lyric: “Look, n***a, don’t think you safe cause you moved out the hood/Cause ya mama still around, dawg, and that ain’t good/If you was smart you’d be shook of me/Cause I get tired of looking for ya, spray ya mama crib and let yo a** look for me”
Lesson Learned: All is fair in love and war, which means that protecting and shielding your family from harm is the first order of operations when in the face of danger.
Song: “If I Can’t”
Lyric: “In the game there’s ups and downs so I stay on the grind/N***as on my d**k more than my b***h, I stay on they mind/There ain’t nothing they could do to stop my shine/This is God’s plan, homie, this ain’t mine”
Lesson Learned: Grit and perseverance are two of the key ingredients to success and are necessary to achieve great things. Believe in yourself, disregard the naysayers and take solace in the fact that your path is your own and unique to itself, by the universe’s design.
Song: “21 Questions”
Lyric: “If I fell off tomorrow, would you still love me?/If I didn’t smell so good, would you still hug me?/If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century/Could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?/If I went back to a hoopty from a Benz/Would you poof and disappear like some of my friends?”
Lesson Learned: Love and loyalty can prove hard to come by, be sure that your partner is one that is willing to stand by your side through thick and thin and provide emotional support when necessary.
Song: “Gotta Make It To Heaven”
Lyric: “You know me, I stay with a b***h on her knees/And give guns away in the hood like it’s government cheese/Spray off Suzuki’s, eleven hundred cc’s/No plate on the back, straight squeezing the MAC/In the hood they identify n***as by their cars/So I switch up whips to stay off the radar”
Lesson Learned: Being a creature of habit and developing routines can be a strength, but in the midst of beef, can also leave you vulnerable and susceptible to an attack from the opposition. Be unpredictable and elusive to keep your enemies on their toes.
Lyric: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change/The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference/In AA they make you say that/That’s the prayer they burn in your head when you in casack”
Lesson Learned: In life, we often fret about the past, present and future, however, understanding that we should only fixate on changing the things within our control puts things in perspective and lifts the mental and spiritual burdens that can weigh us down.
Lyric: “Now shorty think I’ma sweat her sippin’ on Amaretto/I might hit once, then dead her, I know I can do better/She look good, but I know she after my cheddar/She tryin’ to get in my pockets, homie, and I ain’t gon’ let her”
Lesson Learned: Attractive women can be enticing and highly persuasive, but it’s pertinent to know the difference between one that’s out for your attention and affection and one that’s solely after your earnings.