When 50 Cent revisits his childhood, his fans follow suit.
The mark of a great artist is that he stays relevant and meaningful to his audience by changing and adapting with time. For 50 Cent, who grew up as Curtis Jackson, his consistent allure is two-fold.
First, he remains relevant to his audience by strategically repositioning himself to be accessible. Second, he creates content that moves a generation.
During a recent interview, Jay Shetty admitted that 50 Cent has been a constant in his own life. From the voice in his ear as he ran his paper route every day, to the posters that covered his walls and the calendar that helped his wife, Radhi, track the days, 50 Cent has had staying power in Shetty’s life.
From music, to television and film, 50 Cent has been able to meet people where they are and grow a faithful following that spans decades.
The Man Behind the Money
Curtis Jackson was born to a single teen mother in Queens, New York. He knows what it means to come from nothing and credits his mother and grandmother for helping him become the man he is today.
When Jay Shetty asked him what they had given him that still lives on in him today, his quick answer was love.
“The biggest thing they offered me was love,” he said. “My grandma was the love of my life, without any question. She was the person who was very consistent.”
After his mother died when he was eight, 50 Cent lived with his grandmother. He still feels the pain of what his mother must have been through as a young teen mother. With child support not an option, his mother chose to hustle the streets to survive.
“I kind of caused her decisions because she started hustling when I came,” he told Jay Shetty. “At that point, teenage pregnancy wasn’t as common as it is now. There were no programs for young moms.”
Living with his grandparents gave him a sense of stability and safety 50 Cent had never known. His grandmother’s house was a place of community with many generations under one roof. While his grandfather worked and supported the family financially, his grandmother held it all together. Having the love of his grandmother after he lost his mother saved him.
Potential is Found in Pain
“When you talk about visiting your old neighborhood, you say something pretty interesting,” Jay Shetty said. “You say, ‘I look at them like they are a version of me that hasn’t actually blossomed yet’. When I hear that, it’s quite an inspirational thing. What are you seeing when you view your neighborhood that way?”
“Some people, you know, they’re born with a silver spoon, and everything’s already there for them,” 50 Cent told Jay Shetty. He believes those people have a hard time building resilience that will help them bounce back when they are knocked down by hardship and adversity. As for himself and the people in his neighborhood, a life of adversity and struggle was all they had known. It prepared them for pursuing greatness.
“I lost my mom early,” he told Jay Shetty. “I don’t know my father. Someone asked me, “have I been traumatized by what was going on in my life?” I’m like, Nah, that’s just the way it was.”
“I love that,” replied Jay Shetty, “because what you’re saying is, it’s not like I chose this life. This was the life that was given to me.” The power lies in what Jackson decided to do with those circumstances.
“It’s always in our pain that we find our potential,” said Shetty. “So when we’re going through the worst times, that’s when you find what you’re actually made of and what your truth is and what your power is rooted in.”
Potential found in unlikely places is one of the key reasons that 50 Cent has accomplished so much in his life. He was not a lucky one who had an easy life in the midst of a difficult situation. His commitment to hustle harder and smarter is deeply rooted in the resilience that drove him to make the most out of a challenging situation.
The small but mighty team of women who stood behind 50 Cent as he grew up not only taught him about love and resilience, but also about faithfulness. For celebrities, finding people to trust can be a challenge. Who will stick by their side if the applause fades and the money runs out?
In 50 Cent’s new book, Hustle Smarter, Hustle Harder, he writes about the challenges of growing a team; something that struck a chord with Jay Shetty.
“You said, ‘Betrayal is never as far away as you’d like to believe’,” Jay Shetty said. “That’s a powerful statement. I’m intrigued with someone like you who’s experienced betrayal. You’ve experienced snitches. You’ve experienced all of that in your life. What’s your test of figuring out whether someone is real or not?”
50 Cent admitted that being involved with people can be messy and risky.
“You got to just try and get a read on a person,” he told Jay Shetty. “Anyone who is having success will tell you, essentially, you have to mentally to try to be a good judge of character. You have got to look and say, ‘Is this the right person for me?’ ”
50 Cent is known for his ability to interact and work with several other big names like Eminem and Jay Z in the business. He credits his street smarts in the business world to his success.
Strategy is King
New artists and fresh talent pop up every day. Without a strategic look at his work, the flame of 50 Cent’s fame may have died out years ago. True to the title of his book, however, 50 Cent is committed to hustling harder and smarter to stay in the game. And as Jay Shetty points out, 50 Cent has an eye for the big picture.
“You’ve been playing the long game, right?” said Shetty. “You’re looking at the creativity of what you want to create what you’re passionate about.”
For Jackson, the long game meant staying relevant to his fans. He did not make the move from music to movies and television on a whim. He did it because that is where his fans were.
He acknowledged that the lives and commitments of his fan base have changed as they had matured. Not only were they not going to clubs and parties as much anymore, but their time of finding entertainment outside the home was less.
Instead of fighting harder to stay relevant in the ways he always had, and expecting his fans to come to him, 50 Cent pivoted and came to them.
“They go to work Monday to Friday,” he described his fans to Jay Shetty, “Saturday relax, Sunday is a good time for television in the house. This is why I started to go towards the film and television direction because I realized my core audience liked the power of a story.”
This approach has paid off for the musician turned actor. His accessibility to fans across several platforms has grown his name and his business, and this approach is somethong that Jay Shetty admires in him.
“A big part of your success is that you’re highly strategic,” Jay Shetty said to 50 Cent. “You really weigh up ventures. I think people sometimes think that people are just obsessed with money but it’s obvious that’s not the only thing you make your decisions by.”
More From Jay Shetty and 50 Cent
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “50 Cent on How to Hustle Smarter” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.