It’s always surprising whenever you give credit to anybody else, because you’ve been very insular, throughout your career.
50 Cent: Yeah. I try to stay away from people. I’ll explain that to you.
Was there ever a time when you stopped caring about the mixtape game?
50 Cent:No. You know what happened? Technology came and I had the opportunity to use my musical efforts to build ThisIs50.com. So I leaked the material, for promotional purposes, through the computer. At that point, it was endless possibilities of how many places it could end up because a guy who’s a smaller version of Drama out there would take that song off the computer and put it on his tape.
Em has the weirdest choices of what he wants to perform, when it comes time for us to collaborate all the time. I look at it like, we’ve got 'Crack A Bottle.' We won Grammys for the record. Let’s do 'Crack A Bottle,' maybe.
Prior to me even using the mixtape circuit for marketing purposes, it would be a nightmare for a bootlegger to have an artist’s material. I was working to have the bootleggers distribute my material. What’s a nightmare for an established artist is the best thing ever for an unsigned artist.
So when they took it and distributed it, on every level, like, “This is 50 Cent. This is the new hot street thing that’s going on.” It made me have endless distribution without spending any money on it, for marketing purposes, and it created enough energy to result in the largest debuting hip-hop album.
So now, when you look in today’s climate, you see artists have the ability to meet the general public before they meet the record company. Meaning, right after they recorded the song, even at the lowest level, their camera on their telephone, and record themselves vocally to that, that’s the ability for how many people to see it on Youtube or other platforms that have music as a genre of interest.
Put it like this, if I was grinding now like I was in the very beginning, I’d be trying to stay in the independent space. Working as hard as I was working, at that point, I would have just said, “I’m comfortable with this” because I had made it to a point where I was doing $25,000 a show, performing other people’s records. So if you’re doing that, then you’re like, “I’m doing this guy’s record, tonight.” I get $25,000 and I’m doing two shows a night. I’d do 10 o’clock and then 1:30.
Right. I remember watching your SXSW performance and you did Get Rich, which is a classic and was great, but at the very end, you did the “Collapse Freestyle” and I was more excited to see that because I never thought you’d do that song.
50 Cent: You know what’s crazy? Em has the weirdest choices of what he wants to perform, when it comes time for us to collaborate all the time. I look at it like, we’ve got “Crack A Bottle.” We won Grammys for the record. Let’s do “Crack A Bottle,” maybe. It was a huge record.
“Collapse” is a huge record though.
DJ Drama: Shit was dope. Yeah, that was definitely the shit.
50 Cent: It’s certain points where he wants to actually say the verse. What he did performance-wise, he chooses it. I had to learn “Collapse,” right there, in front of you, at this SXSW rehearsal. I hadn’t heard that freestyle in so long, so I had to sit there and learn it.
I didn’t say my verse in its entirety. I said six bars of my verse, Em said the rap, and I said the last six bars at the end of him, because he wanted to say his verse and the edit that we had didn’t allow me to say my whole verse. So I said, “Play it again. OK. I know it. Let’s do it.” And then he wanted to do the “Love Me” joint.
Eminem called, while I was in the hospital. He was like, “Man, you got shot nine times. If you die over a cheeseburger, this shit is going to go down in history, man. You better get your ass out the hospital.” He cheered me up. He made me laugh, under circumstances that weren’t that funny.
Yeah, I couldn’t believe that you did “Collapse” and got Eminem to do it. But I really wanted you to do my favorite song, “Banks Victory.” It was like, “Damn. We couldn’t get Banks’ ‘Victory.’”
50 Cent: [Pauses.] You know what’s really interesting? No matter how much you do for an artist, I don’t think you can prevent there from being a point that the artist wants it to be about them, regardless of who it is. I think when you’re not an artist, and you’re an executive, you never have that conflict.
Right, because you want as much success as you can...
50 Cent: Right. And you don’t understand, I want as much success as I can have for artists who I come in contact with. It gives you life, when you don’t have any. Meaning, it gives you the ability to make Watch The Throne. Technically, Kanye’s sales history is bigger than Jay-Z’s on single albums. So if you develop an artist that you can actually bring into the fold and he becomes a legitimate partner, at some point, that’s great.
I’m not running around, jumping through hoops, making it super convenient for [my artists]. I’m going to let them work now. I’ve done enough for all of them.
I want them to be bigger. You want them to have their own record companies and everything else. But when people lose sight of how people actually get to the point that you’re at, it gets really uncomfortable. The more successful you are, the more important it becomes that you are a good judge of character.
I think people that I’ve invested my time and energy in, I would have done better if I would have taken a page out of maybe the traditional book of the music business and not been so personable with them.
I should have just left them over there and said, “Do what you’ve got to do to win. I’ll even provide what you need to do to win.” When you see them become complacent, or they feel like they don’t have to do it because you’re going to figure it out for them, it becomes interesting.
The question is, have you ever had people who work for you, that you work for? Because it gets interesting when you get to a point where this person’s under you—they work for you—and you’re working for them. They don’t respond to what you’re saying, they just wait around. You’re just sitting there like, “Yo, you’re going to miss the fucking boat. You’ve got to do this like this, now.”
You’re moving things in place, pretty much making it more convenient for them to execute it, and then they come when they feel like coming. Then you go, “Man, fuck out of here. If you don’t catch this ferry, you can swim your ass across. I’ll see you when you get there.” But I’m not running around, jumping through hoops, making it super convenient for them. I’m going to let them work now. I’ve done enough for all of them.