50 Cent on Street King Immortal: "Listen, I Know I Won't Sell as Many Albums as I Did"
50 Cent runs an empire.
Certainly you've seen in him in a movie or two. He's published books. He's hustled Vitamin Water. He's become a boxing promoter. And now he's even gotten into the headphone business with SMS Audio.
But after taking a few years off from music to pursue acting, writing, and what seems like hundreds of other things, we're all still waiting for Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's next full-length record.
Luckily for fans, during Crossfade's sit down with him at Tiger Direct in Miami, he told us that SMS and the rest of the empire isn't taking up all of his time. His next album, Street King Immortal, 50 says, will also arrive in early 2014.
See also: 20 Richest Rappers of 2013
Crossfade: Hello, 50. Or should I say Curtis? What do your friends call you?
50 Cent: They call me 50. My grandmother calls me Curtis when I'm in trouble.
Well, 50, welcome to Miami. How do you like it here?
Miami is nice. I was expecting a little sunshine, but I'm not mad at you all for that. I was in Delray Beach last night and it was cool.
Umm ... Delray. Why?
SMS Audio is based there. Delray is laid-back. It's a nice place to go. Quiet.
I am honored to be sitting with you. Get Rich or Die Tryin' was the first album to be played in my first car. I also have a friend who lost his virginity to it.
I think its interesting how important media is. When we go to relax, we go to music, television, movies. Even in the most exotic of places, it's kind of the same. Every region has a music that brings them all together.
I need to know: How was your time with Oprah Winfrey?
It started out as one part, not two. I think we just talked too long. I think they came into it, like, "Let's see if this man is crazy." My grandmother is a huge fan and would have it on in the house constantly. Every time I would hear Oprah's problems with hip-hop culture, it would be something that was a part of Get Rich or Die Tryin', which, by the way, was one the biggest albums of the 2000s. So before the interview, I thought to myself, "OK, she doesn't like me for sure." I really didn't know how it was going to go. I was hoping, if I can't be your friend, at least let me be your enemy. Luckily, it went the other way.
She has been very vocal about her disapproval of both your and Jay Z's music yet really loves the both of you.
It's a mutual respect. We are artists. In hip-hop, we use a lot of metaphors. If an artist is painting a picture of the American flag, but you say, "Don't use red. That's the bad stuff." No matter what he paints, it won't be the flag. I rapped about things I knew, the good and the bad. Nothing could be left out.
See also: Rap's Top Ten Struggle Songs
Now you are much more than a rapper. You officially have an empire. Music, Vitamin Water, books ...
It was just me writing beyond the music. I wanted to create a book that used slang that was actually in the music. I wanted to expand the attention span of people that actually listen to hip-hop music.
And why headphones too?
It is just an extension of music. I knew a lot of peoples first question would be, "Why these headphones over anyone else's headphones?" When I launched with SMS, it was utilizing the Kleer technology of the Maybach. It was a pretty high price point, even from my standpoint, because of the technology that went into them. I said, "Now let's make the Phantom and then we will give them the Ghost to make them more price efficient." But people didn't want the Ghost - they want the best.
Who is buying these headphones? DJs, hip-hop artists, hipsters?
Hip-hop culture is a part of the pop culture. Skateboarding is a part of hip-hop culture. Tattooing is part of hip-hop culture. When I started, I stood out for having a back piece. It was really just DMX and I with that piece on his back that is supposed to be a dog.
(Laughs) But you know what I mean. Look at hip-hop culture now. It's a part of culture and everyday life.
Speaking of music, when can we expect your next album, Street King Immortal?
It's done actually. I go back to music because it inspires me. I will feel that I am set, but then I hear something new, and I want to go back to the studio. But listen, I know I won't sell as many albums as I did previously. Eminem's new record sold 700,000 copies and was No. 1. I think to myself, "Is this where we are? I can't look at a 7 again." He doesn't do anything else but music. It is extreme focus. It's his passion. He doesn't want to do anything else. The man doesn't want to go to the store, he just wants to be in the studio.
Why make us wait so long?
It's been about a four-year time period. I was lapsed. When you have a huge album, it usually follows another. It was 2003, 2005, and then 2007. And now, this record.
Did you think you would be here ten years ago?
Not here. The only thing I have to protect myself from though is my ideas. A lot of artists just sit in front of a canvas and paint. My ideas intertwine with my ambition. I think, "I could do that." Music was easy, but to take my idea and make it a reality is so rewarding. I had a 3D rendering of what I wanted these headphones to look like. I acquired a company that had a functional staff to make the product faster, and here we are. That is just how I function. I go for what I want.
OK, for my last question ... Are you shocked people are still talking about the love affair between you and Chelsea Handler?
Chelsea is such a vibrant personality. She sped me up. You know you meet someone and they change your character a little bit? She did that for me. She thinks so fast, you got to be ready. If not, you have been hit over the head twice and not even realized it. We had fun together. Her friends are the most important people to her. They liked me and then she started to really like me. Maybe it seemed odd, but it wasn't awkward at all. I have nothing but love for Chelsea.
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