Thankfully I was nowhere near 50 Cent when he learned Kanye West's new CD was going to beat his. 50 famously vowed to stop making solo albums if he lost their first-week sales battle, and he did lose — by the score of 957,000 to 691,000 — although he had already retracted his promise to quit.
Fortunately I met with him just before both of their third CDs dropped on September 11, and he was still optimistic. Charming, in fact, although while I waited to be buzzed in behind G-Unit Clothing's wall of bulletproof glass, I was shaking. The man does have a reputation as a hothead, after all, and as I took a seat in the company lobby, I couldn't help but cower beneath the larger-than-life poster of 50 staring down at me.
Soon I was escorted into his office, which boasts a gym, stocked bar, recording booth, and chrome-heavy bathroom that looks like it belongs in a prison. "How ya doing?" 50 said suddenly. He had entered the room silently and was now sticking out his hand. "Isn't it freezing in here?"
We retreated to the lobby, where he grabbed a slice of somebody's pizza and told me to hold on for a second. In a blue T-shirt and white Reeboks, he looked shorter than — but just as thick as — I had imagined. In awe, I noted the bullet scar on his left cheek, and then, just below it, a giant crumb dangling from his chin. An assistant dislodged it with a napkin, and suddenly Fiddy was just another man to me.
After getting some compulsory Curtis-related questions out of the way, the real interview began. "Do you ever worry that you'll become as crazy as über-superstars like Michael Jackson or Prince?" I asked.
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"I don't think I'll go crazy," he said, smiling. "But then again, crazy people don't think they're crazy."
Like his inflated lats, our bond continued to gain strength. At one point he brushed my knee with his as he laughed, and later he winked at me. Barely prompted, he dissed Kanye West: "[Kanye] could come out [of the closet] and people would be like, 'You didn't notice how he dressed?'" Lil Wayne's much-blogged lip lock with mentor Baby earlier this year drew this pearl: "I think it's odd for a man to kiss another man on his mouth."
All in all, he answered considerably more than 21 of my questions, making eye contact like a motherfucker the whole time. Before being shuffled off, he very deliberately turned around and waved goodbye to me. I could be wrong, but it felt like a moment. Kanye might have won the sales battle, but 50 won my heart.