50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, is one of the most popular rappers in the world. He first rose to fame in the early 2000s with hits like “In Da Club” and “21 Questions.” But before 50 Cent became a household name, he endured a difficult upbringing and several near-death experiences.
50 Cent’s Early Life
50 Cent was born on July 6, 1975 in Queens, New York. He grew up without his father, and his mother was murdered when he was just 8 years old. After her death, 50 Cent began dealing drugs as a teenager to support himself financially. He pursued a musical career and in 1996 met Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, who mentored the young rapper. But 50 Cent continued selling drugs for income and got involved with the dangerous business side of the illegal drug trade.
First Shooting in May 2000
On May 24, 2000, 50 Cent was shot 9 times at close range while sitting in a car outside his grandmother’s house in Queens. He was struck in the hand, arm, hip, chest, and face. One of the bullets went through his left cheek and lodged in his tongue. He spent 13 days in the hospital and went through physical therapy to regain his motor skills and ability to speak. Fortunately he was able to fully recover, though the shooting left him with a unique raspy voice.
Details of the First Shooting
The shooting was not a random act of violence. 50 Cent has stated it was in retaliation for a song he wrote about robbing an individual named Darryl “Hommo” Baum, a convicted drug trafficker. Baum was part of a gang called the Supreme Team, and other members sought revenge on 50 Cent for his lyrics by attempting to take his life.
Second Shooting in March 2000
Just two months before the May 2000 shooting, 50 Cent was shot at again while sitting in a car in front of a store in Southside Jamaica, Queens. He was struck once in the hand but was able to drive away and got treatment for his injury at Jamaica Hospital.
Details of the Second Shooting
The shooter was alleged to be Darryl “Hommo” Baum himself along with an accomplice named Mike Tyson. 50 Cent identified them both in a police lineup. Baum was killed 3 weeks later, likely in retaliation for the shooting.
Significance of the Shootings
The two shootings 50 Cent endured early in his career could have easily taken his life. Surviving such brutal attacks only added to his reputation on the streets as someone not to be crossed. The shootings were incorporated into his public persona and became part of his image as a rapper. His gritty, survival-focused songs resonated with fans who could identify with his struggles.
After the May 2000 shooting that nearly took 50 Cent’s life, he spent time recovering both physically and mentally. His album Power of the Dollar was set to be released by Columbia Records in 2000, but was pulled after he was dropped from the label following his shooting. This led 50 Cent to take time to re-evaluate his life and career.
The severe injuries 50 Cent sustained took significant time to heal. He had to go through extensive physical therapy to regain his strength and motor skills. Part of his tongue was removed, leaving him with a slurred voice. But through diligent rehabilitation, he made a full recovery within a few months.
Mentally, the shooting of 50 Cent was traumatic and could have left him fearful and unable to continue his rap career. But after taking time to process the experience, he emerged more determined than ever to write music reflecting on his near-death experience. This time period allowed 50 Cent to refocus with increased passion for rapping.
Shootings Made 50 Cent More Famous
Paradoxically, the shootings which could have ended 50 Cent’s life ended up bringing him more fame once he recovered. The fact that he survived such brutal attacks added to his reputation on the streets as a tough survivor. It also gave him a story that resonated with fans who could relate to his underdog narrative.
Credibility Among Other Rappers
His shootings gave 50 Cent credibility and respect among his fellow rappers for the dues he paid on the tough streets of Southside Jamaica. Having been shot 9 times lent 50 Cent an air of authenticity in the oft-violent world of hip hop beefs and rivalries.
The shootings gained significant media attention for the up-and-coming rapper. News outlets extensively covered 50 Cent’s story of surviving the shootings and regaining his ability to rap. This brought him publicity that heightened anticipation for his eventual return.
Fans Related to the Struggle
50 Cent’s underdog story of recovering from the brink of death resonated strongly with fans, especially those from inner cities who could relate to his struggles. They identified with the gritty authenticity that the shootings lent to his music.
Effect on 50 Cent’s Music
Nearly dying in the 2000 shootings had a profound effect on 50 Cent’s music once he was able to record again. The intensity of the experiences were reflected in his lyrics and vocals.
50 Cent’s brush with death gave him a new perspective that showed in his songwriting. He began rapping more introspectively about his near-demise, as well as with an urgency to leave an impact. Songs like “Many Men (Wish Death)” off his major label debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’ discussed the shooting.
Due to the removal of part of his tongue during surgery, 50 Cent was left with a unique raspy style of rapping. His deep delivery with a slurring of words made his flow distinctive. Despite losing clarity in his speech, he turned the shooting into part of his vocal signature.
Beats and Production
50 Cent began rapping over more menacing beats that matched his gritty lyrics when he emerged after recovery. Beats produced by Dr. Dre had a dark, aggressive sound that complemented 50 Cent’s intense rapping about violence and survival.
In summary, 50 Cent survived being shot in two separate instances early in his career. The first shooting in May 2000 nearly took his life as he was struck 9 times at close range. But after months of recovery, he emerged more determined than ever, using the experience to fuel his music. The shootings added to his reputation as a credible rapper with an authentic story to tell. Songs like “Many Men” and 50’s distinctive vocal delivery were clearly influenced by him cheating death. So in the end, the shootings which could have killed 50 Cent ended up bringing him more success once he persevered through recovery.