Long before the quarters dropped, and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson became the filthy rich megastar he is today, 50 Cent Is The Future was the body of work that solidified himself as rap's next big thing.

After being shot nine times, and getting dropped from his label, Fif (literally) spit out the leftover shells and got to work putting together a masterpiece that displayed his knack for marrying a gritty style of New York rapping and Southern twang. Jacking beats from artists ranging from Jay-Z to Tweet (yes, Tweet), 50 put his own spin on of-the-moment records and made them his own. He wasn't the first to use the formula, but certainly the most influent. The mixtape hit street corners on June 1, and it became the official soundtrack of summer 2002.

Back then, 50 was actually the underdog everyone was rooting for. He was angry, driven and seeking redemption—yet he obviously didn't give a fuck about either the industry or the people who put money on his head. The cover art alone, a stoic, chipped-up Fif with his arms folded across his chest, surrounded by G-Unit cohorts Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo holding guns against a white background, sent a clear message: "We're here now, and you're going to have to deal with us."

This was the tape that everyone wanted to put everyone else up on, and people took pride in co-signing 50 first. On "Bad News" Fif raps, "I'm just a new kid, I can't help that I'm hot/What a little nigga say to 50 Cent don't matter/I'll fire shots at the shepherd and watch the sheep scatter."

When all is said and done, there will be a lot of talk about 50's constant beefs, his extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit, and his much-debated body of work in the latter years. Something that's not debatable? The impact 50 Cent Is The Future had on the mixtape game, and on hip-hop as a whole. —Joe La Puma

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