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As most will agree, 50 Cent‘s resume is quite a remarkable one. While the story from rags to riches has been told countless times, the life and times of Curtis Jackson Jr. have been extensively covered by international media and even found its way to the big screen. Fiddy has now taken a look back at his younger self for The Big Issue to pen a letter to his younger self. The Jamaica, Queens native touches upon subjects like his grandmother’s death, Jam Master Jay, his mother’s death, Eminem, the development of the hip-hop culture, and more. Read an excerpt below and the entire letter here.
It scared me half to death when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. My aunt would call me with updates all the time and she always said, don’t worry, she’s fine. I’ve never told anyone this but two years ago, the day she called to tell me… It was early in the morning and I was on a treadmill in the gym. I got to the hospital and the whole family was there. My aunt told me the doctor said she’d had a stroke and there was nothing they could do. They took me to her and she was the smallest I ever saw her. I said ‘Hello?’ I saw her eyes jump when she heard my voice, like she was trying to see where I was at. Everyone else left and I talked to her for a little bit. Then they all came back in and her heart rate started to drop. My aunt said, shit, she was waiting for you. I’ve seen a lot of people pass in the neighbourhood, I’ve lost them to motorcycles or altercations or drugs. But none of them impacted like when my grandmother died. She was the love of my life.
I felt I had to do whatever it took to get by. The stuff that came out of my mouth when I was outside the house – wow, that kid was crazy. I was the youngest in the pack, everyone else was at least 16. People told my grandmother stuff I’d done and she’d say, nope, not my baby. We all wanted nice things, nice clothes, because we wanted to attract girls. So we had to hustle to afford them.
When you get hurt as bad as I did [he was shot nine times at close range in 2000] you become afraid of everything because you know anything can happen at any time. I got shot in the afternoon, broad daylight. So I got scared, and that made me harder than I was before. The only time I was comfortable was when I didn’t care. So I just said – fuck it. When you have the pistol and you’re looking for them, your attention is shifted. You’re not afraid anymore. You’re like, I hope that is them coming up the block now.
I started writing lyrics full time in 1997. I met Jam Master Jay from Run DMC and he had his label, which would take people on and develop them until they were ready to go to a major. Jay taught me how to count bars – and when the chorus should start and stop. And I kept practising. Sometimes hard work beats talent. I wrote all the time, and so I got better and better.