Label: Aftermath, Shady, Interscope

As is 50 Cent's wont, let's talk numbers first: 400,000 copies moved on the Tuesday it was released; 872,000 by the end of the first week; 6 million by the end of 2003. Over eight million sold when all was said and done, making Get Rich or Die Tryin' the fourth best-selling hip-hop album ever. But those digits only begin to suggest the immense impact that 50's major-label debut had on the rap game.

Created in a whirlwind—50 Cent, Eminem, and Dr. Dre conceived and recorded seven songs in five days—Get Rich sounded like nothing else at the time. Though it was packed with the sort of harrowing street tales that defined most New York rap, the album was essentially regionless, devoid of either soul-based boom-bap or Cali G-funk. The production was as epic as the grandiose hood superhero image being pushed by the guy on the cover with the designer print gun holster. And then there were the hits.

50's ability to make even the most savage of songs sound radio-ready—with sticky choruses and slick, easily digestible flows—shone doubly bright on the songs he actually meant to be sent to radio. While pop stations played "In Da Club" and "21 Questions," hip-hop mix shows were wearing out every single album cut. Get Rich or Die Tryin' wasn't just an album title, it was a mission statement. Mission accomplished.