Dan Schawbel: “I spoke to 50 Cent, who is a Grammy Award winning artist and the co-star and executive producer of the hit Starz TV drama Power, about Eminem’s influence on his entire career, how his early struggles growing up in Queens impacted his career decisions, how his near death experiences have changed his view of the world, why you have to have thick skin to make it in the music business and his best advice. Season four of Power is set to premiere on June 25, 2017.”
50 Cent rose to fame with his record-shattering debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and has since sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and been awarded numerous prestigious accolades. He created one of the most influential deals in hip-hop with the sale of Vitaminwater and has been running both G-Unit Film & Television, Inc., and G-Unit Records. Additional credits include the variety show 50 Central on BET and two dramas, The Oath, (WT) and RPM (WT) for Sony Pictures Television Networks and Crackle. Jackson’s successful film career has included roles in several blockbusters, most recently filming the upcoming Den of Thieves where he will co-star opposite Gerard Butler slated for release in 2018. 50 Cent continues to extend his brand, which encompasses a broad spectrum of businesses including: footwear and apparel, fragrance, video games, publishing, headphones, Vodka, health drinks and supplements.
Dan Schawbel: What influence has Eminem had on your career to date and who outside of the music industry do you most admire?
50 Cent: Em has had a huge influence on my career. It probably wouldn’t have went the way it went without him. He enabled a creative focus for me when I first came. He was selling 23 million records on Marshall Mathers LP when he decided that I was going to be the next big thing. When he brought my music to Dre, Dre listened to it and he was like ‘I’m with it, let’s do it’. Everyone hears what you are saying when you are selling that many records. He was at a peak point of his career pointing me out saying ‘him, he’s the next thing’. Then it gave me the attention from a major record label, it allowed me to have the right platform at just the right time. It allowed me the freedom to do as well as I did. There were so many things stacked against the project working and then when that happened it turned all the way around. Em (Eminem)…. he is special.
I really like Samuel L. Jackson. My career was in music at the beginning for the most part and during that time I was watching him, and he was making a lot of films. I watched a lot of his stuff and got a chance to appreciate his work from a fans perspective because I wasn’t involved with it at that point. I mean he’s a Jackson, I’m a Jackson, Curtis Jackson, Fabolous is a Jackson, Ice Cube is a Jackson. Technically you know you are supposed to be successful when you are a Jackson. It’s just supposed to happen.
Schawbel: What did your early struggles growing up in Queens have on your career and business decisions as you became a famous artist?
50 Cent: Well, I think what the streets do to you gives you the ability to use your gut instincts. A lot of people, they go and study business classes and stuff like that. Some don’t internalize the work or retain the information long enough to pass midterms or even try to move on to higher degrees anymore. The neighborhoods kind of offer an instinctive way or route. I think that’s the most valuable thing I have gotten out of that experience.
Schawbel: As someone who has had near death experiences, how have you lived your life differently and what can you recommend to others?
50 Cent: When you live through a near death experience, I think you start to identify with your higher power because you do not have an explanation for being able to survive. I think about how an experience like that leaves you conscious of you not being in control and what really changes your characteristics or the way you do things. It changes your perception of everything. Prior to being under those circumstances, it’s all in your power you feel like. When you see things happen, you go ‘how did that happen and how was I able to do this?’ The only answer is, you know your higher power at that point.
Schawbel: What do people outside of the music business not know about what it takes to make it in the highly competitive industry?
50 Cent: Well, they don’t know how thick your skin has to get. You have to be prepared for everyone to have the right to say what they want about you and for you not to say anything to them. It’s a huge adjustment. When you make something creatively and people decide to support it, or buy it, you go ‘wait, you bought the CD to give you eligibility to judge me and every portion of my life.’ People do feel like they should have the ability to do that or have the ability to be in every portion of your life. Now with technology, it has sucked away privacy. Whether you want to take the picture with them or they want to take a picture of you, they don’t identify with the fact that the picture taken is notifying people where you are at that point. It is documenting where you are at that moment, when you might not necessarily want everyone aware of that. It will create conflict or confusion for you that you are not conscious of early on. It’s a fair exchange though.
Schawbel: What are your top three pieces of career advice?
50 Cent: The biggest and most important thing for you is to find a strong ground to stand on, on your own, because people around you are going to develop entitlement when you have success. It doesn’t require anything for them to actually have deep feelings towards what you should have done. Away from that, you know the moment you start to have success, just take on a motto that depression is a luxury that you can’t afford, because things can start to sway another way following you having success. It could be confusion in your personal life maybe. When that’s happening, if you’ve already taken on the fact that depression is a luxury that you can’t afford, even though you have money, you’ll be fine.