Why did 50 Cent loose? (with exclusive photos of the whole G-Unit)

Why did 50 Cent loose? (with exclusive photos of the whole G-Unit)

Why did 50 Cent loose his D-day (or rather D-week) to Kanye West? Not by 10,000 units either, by ¼ million albums, Kanye’s Graduation outsold Curtis and instantly made the news. 50’s immediate reaction? Label troubles were to blame for most of it.

It’s not a new theme in an artist’s life. Music labels are known for failing to represent artists’ real interests, goals and thought process. Yet, when the same label, Interscope, showed very little love to Styles P. 50 had no problem whatsoever. As a bit of a news throwback, Styles went Platinum under Bad Boy with his first album. Then money disagreements ensued and he jumped ship to Interscope. Soon after, that label’s new golden boy, 50, decided to diss everyone in NY with his Piggybank. It was not too long after that Styles dropped his second album with almost no help from the label. Interscope decided to show love to 50 and support him in his aggressive stand against the Bronx crew (Jadakiss, Ja Rule, Fat Joe and Styles got included). Now he got a bit of a cold hand from the label himself. It began not too long ago. About a month before Curtis dropped the music video to Follow My Lead with Robin Thicke was released. 50 was unhappy to say the least. Guess it wasn’t supposed to come out ‘till after the album release date. By now most have heard about him throwing his cell out of a window and ripping a huge plasma TV off of a wall at the label. Now, yelling at the label executives may be understood but throwing your own cell phone out? Well, the label did what they do, but thinking that they wanted 50 to sell less albums? While 50 himself makes money off of his shows, his clothing and many other ventures, Interscope only makes money off of the albums sold. Even if that move was a bad one, does it really explain a ¼ million albums less? Besides, Kanye did release all of his hit songs well in before 9/11.

OK, leaving rhetoric questions to be just that, rhetoric, moving on to the next part. Bad business decisions. 50 became known for being a great businessman besides being a rapper. True, he did amass quite an empire with G-Unit. What did it bring him thou? Complaining left and right about his artists doing poorly he seemed to have proven only one point, that he is… not that great of a businessman. Signing Mase to G-Unit before he was even released from Bad Boy already proved to be a questionable act. Signing MOP and never actually marketing the group was another suspect. Showering Mobb Deep with money and cars was a slick move by a newcomer (yes, 50 is a new guy compared to Prodigy and Havoc). Yet, Blood Money didn’t do much at all. Even P’s Return of the Mac was praised higher by their fans. Lloyd Banks was always seen as 50’s right hand. Still, his Rotten Apple also failed to impress and he soon joined the list of ‘Where are they now?’ rappers. Tony Yayomade more news slapping a little kid than he did with his debut album (in his defense he did say that he doesn’t care much about making music). Hot Rod was honed to be the next lady killer and lately he is more likely to be seen on a side of Hip Hop milk carton also. Olivia got canned as she failed to become the next Beyonce. Young Buck is the only G-Unit artist who managed to sell a healthy number of albums with his Buck the World. Being a Southern rapper his success becomes a suspect thou. Was it the fans’ love for Southern music or G-Unit that helped that? G-Unit’s President, Sha Money XL ran himself. Still managing G-Unit’s artists through his own company, Money Management Group, he seemed to have sensed the end of the label’s reign and went off to do his own work. 50’s own DJ Whoo Kid did just about everything wrong for himself. Becoming known in the mixtape world he failed to monopolize on the previous successes and remained… a mixtape DJ. The Game got his start with the QB bunch also, but truly made his name and amassed a sizeable fan base after leaving G-Unit. And just in case everyone forgot, in the beginning of last year 50 swore that every artist on his label would have released an album in 2006. Only 3 of them did.

So, why was 50 Cent praised as a phenomenal businessman? The truth is that he may be a more dedicated worker bee, a more elaborate hustler, even a luckier person, but a true businessman he is not. The greatest businessmen go to Ivy League schools and run multibillion-dollar corporations. Being smarter or having more business sense than most other guys from the hood does not make Curtis fit to run a business empire. Look at all rappers/heads of their own music labels. Jay-Z leaves it to Universal Music and LA Reid to make true business decisions. Diddy (if he was ever a rapper) is not even messing with music that much nowadays. Dr. Dre is sticking with making dope beats and teasing everyone with promises of Detox dropping. Even T.I. is letting Atlantic Records take care of things and his Grand Hustle Records is being distributed by them. Having controlling tendencies and ripping TVs off a wall may not be the key to success.

The biggest issue is that 50 is not a good manager. Yes, he spent a lot of money by taking the entire G-Unit on tour with him last year. Still, that was about all the management he provided for them. Guest appearances on their songs don’t really count as supervision either. He had a plan in ‘06. It was not a bad plan. It would have worked back then. Yet, the lack of actual business skills did not allow him to see into the future. And in that future he lost the one man who was capable of managing his camp, Sha Money. There was no plan B. When just like the .com boom in 2000 the music industry experienced an underperformance in 2007 G-Unit saw a decline. When young inexperienced managers in those .com days got millions in venture capital money and wasted them their companies crumbled and the whole economy felt the hurt. The Hip Hop music industry is not as grand as the US economy but killing all competition in New York by bullying it in ’06 50 essentially killed NY Hip Hop music. Still wondering what Nas meant when he said that ‘Hip Hop is Dead’?

So, did 50 fail then? Far from it. His album still went Gold in the first week. The sale of his shares of Vitamin Water made him $400 million. He was named as one of the top 10 rappers by MTV. Granted Lil’ Wayne was on that list too, but it’s still an honor for a guy who was completely unknown to the music industry less than 10 years ago.

Perhaps 50 shouldn’t have laughed at a statement that he and Kanye are in the same league. True, Kanye never bragged about being a drug dealer or being shot many times. West made his name producing music before he began rapping. He is known for his conscious themes and lyricism much more than for his street cred or even his Louis Vuitton collection. He is more concerned with Conflict Diamonds from Africa than with the hottest strip club around. Kanye’s would rather proclaim G-d’s name than the name of the guy who helped him get going on the streets as a kid. Even being cocky, Ye talks about the respect he gets as a star, rather than squashing other local rappers or creating degrading images of women. So, perhaps they are not in the same league or even in the same world. Still, it’s not why 50 sold fewer albums in his first week. Kanye simply had hotter beats, catchier hooks, smoother flow, better guest spots and a more business savvy backing. More than ¼ million fans seemed to think so in the first week alone. 50’s not on the top even thou he is higher than some of the finest bud could get him.

Somehow with all the publicity and all the attention the question ‘Who is 50 Cent?’ still remains. Well, the answer to that question is not that simple. Depending on what day it may be or what his number look like, it changes. Danyel Smith, Editor-In-Chief of Vibe magazine called him a pop star. He also called him a superhero of today. Now, pop music is just popular music. So being a popular rapper one becomes a pop star. You may not like the idea that nowadays even Nas and Snoop Dogg are pop stars, but it is what it is. Calling 50 a superhero is a questionable call thou. Superheroes save people with no reward sought. Just think of Superman or Batman. 50’s name doesn’t quite come to mind with those folks.

Not too long ago 50 said in a radio interview that he holds Buck in the same regard as The Game for trying to speak on behalf of G-Unit. Shortly after they made peace thou and Buck praised 50 as his rightful and gracious boss and called The Game bipolar for changing his mind. Well, 50 publicly announced that he’ll fire Buck, just to pretend that it was a joke later. He also said that he’ll quit rapping if Kanye outsells him in the first week and in the mean time already got a name picked out for his next album, Before I Self-Destruct. Looks like bipolar traits to anyone? Not really. Looks like speaking without thinking or speaking while thinking about something else. Oh, and after Buck’s album sold well 50 praised him above the rest of G-Unit, even calling Banks lazy.

Now his infamous Connecticut house is on sale (yeah, the one that used to belong to Tyson). 50 very publicly said that he is sick and tired of helping other artists on his label. Besides loosing Olivia and Mase (not that it hurt a lot) he also lost Sha Money. 50’s image is so distinct that he will never be able to change it or even adjust it. Don King has a better chance of acting like a nice guy than an ex-drug dealer, who became world known for rapping about his guns and knowledge of the hood.

What does all of that mean? Is Kanye’s music nicer than 50’s? Is Kanye a better man than 50? Is 50 not as great of a businessman as thought before? Are music fans less excited about industry beef, sex and violence than just good music? It may seem that the answer to all of those questions is yes but still it depends on who you ask. Afterall 50 did sell over 500,000 albums in 6 days. His fan base is not extinct, it may just be lower than Kanye’s at this very moment. What it does mean is that the Hip Hop music industry is not in as much trouble as thought before. When many albums sold far below predictions in ’06, somewhat of a panic ensued. Well, 2 East Coast (not Southern) artists just proved them wrong. Selling a combined 1,648,000 albums in the first 6 days 50 and Kanye may have just gave everyone the necessary boost.

The only question remains: one of the most tragic days in the US history occurred only 6 years ago. Was 9/11 truly the best date for this type of a showdown?

Dmitriy Goldin

{joomplucat:205 limit=4}