Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson knew he was destined for greatness. In June 2002, the Queens-bred rapper—who signed with Columbia Records in the late 1990s, recorded an album called Power of the Dollar, and was unceremoniously dropped from said label after getting shot before the album ever hit stores—released a mixtape called 50 Cent Is the Future. Armed with a slew of catchy hooks, some help from his G-Unit crew—which consisted of fellow up-and-comers Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo—and one hell of a back story (he infamously got shot nine times in May 2000), 50 Cent found his voice on that mixtape and let the world know what he already knew to be true: That 50 Cent was the future.
Since then, 50 has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish as a rapper. He's released a handful of chart-topping albums, including his classic debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He's crafted hit singles that have landed on the Billboard charts over and over and over again. But he's also had his downs, too. In the past few years he's largely struggled to reinvent himself as an artist and keep himself relevant. Still, more than a decade after releasing 50 Cent Is the Future, his latest album, Animal Ambition, is being released independently this week through his own G-Unit Records imprint on Capitol Records. Even if he isn't what he once was, 50 Cent is still one of the most important rappers of the 2000s.
Part of that is because 50 Cent used releases like 50 Cent Is the Future to change the way artists put out music. Long before rappers were remixing other artists' songs and releasing free projects, 50 Cent was feeding the streets and putting out more product than anyone else. The other part of it is that 50 Cent has consistently put out music that has stood and will continue to stand the test of time. At this point, he's branched out into a million and one other areas—from sneakers and video games to headphones and clothing, 50 has done it all—but he's also continued to put out quality music throughout the years. So in honor of 50 Cent releasing his fifth solo album this week, and reuniting with G-Unit (sans The Game) on stage at Summer Jam, Complex decided to pay tribute to "the kid 50 Cent" by showing some love to his 50 best songs.
Written by Chris Yuscavage (@CYuscavage)