It's been 10 years since 50 Cent's debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' changed the face of hip-hop forever. 50 Cent was larger than life—a game-changer, the ultimate gangster rap crossover, a man who showed up as a legend, ready to become another one. Co-signed by one of the most singular and crucial entities of contemporary rap, Eminem, and the genre's most important producer, Dr. Dre, with a full street pedigree and a fearless persona, he eclipsed the competition.
It was the biggest opening statement since Doggystyle. It was proof of the importance of mixtape hustle in a new music economy. It solidified the reinvention Dr. Dre began on 2001. It initiated G-Unit's rap game takeover. And, ultimately, it became hip-hop's commercial peak, at the height of the genre's domination of Top 40.
We spoke with the OGs—artists from the era of 50's pop chart takeover, whose influence is pervasive to this very day—as well as the young'uns (artists who were only kids when Curtis Jackson was emerging as one of pop music's dominant stars).
We wanted to know: How did it feel to be them when they first heard Get Rich or Die Tryin'? What did they hear? What was that moment like? And how has it influenced them since? Whatever the answer, a consistent theme emerged: Get Rich or Die Tryin's lasting legacy isn't just an album, but also, the way everything changed the moment 50 dropped it.
As told to Joe LaPuma, Ernest Baker, David Drake, Lauren Nostro, and Insanul Ahmed.
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