50 Cent and the true potential of the game
By David Cotner 06/03/2010
It’s one thing for a rapper to take shots from critics and other artists, but when a rapper takes multiple gunshots in a drive-by sneak attack, he enters a whole other universe of acclaim. Rapper, gunshot victim and impresario 50 Cent — born in 1978 in Queens, New York, as Curtis James Jackson III — has, for the past decade, taken on so many new enterprises that it seems at every turn is a rebirth. Approaching a level of cross-promotion rivaled possibly only by KISS, Jackson has turned his sights on film and the publishing world, most notably with his recent collaboration, The 50th Law, with popular determinist writer Robert Greene on the tailor-made update to Greene’s brutal self-help book The 48 Laws of Power. 50 Cent has also rather cannily branded his identity on everything from condoms to body spray to vitamin water, making an estimated $100 million for the sale of his stake in Vitaminwater parent company Glacéau, which sold to Coca-Cola in 2007 for slightly north of $4 billion. He recently surprised interested bystanders when photographs emerged online of his drastic weight loss in preparation for his role as a cancer-stricken athlete in the upcoming film Things Fall Apart. This recalls the weight loss suffered in the aftermath of his attempted assassination in 2000; he was able to consume only liquids during recovery. His fourth album, the gold-selling Before I Self-Destruct came out in November, marking the launch of his national “The Invitation” tour, which he discussed with VCReporter the day before he hit the road.
VCReporter: I saw the photos of you having lost all that weight. How are you doing?
50 Cent: (Laughs) I’m fine. The (Things Fall Apart) film is an exciting project for me. I was motivated to write this screenplay based on a relationship — me and my best friend, growing up. He died of cancer a few years ago, and that’s what made me create the football character that’s hit with the illness. It’s been an amazing project — myself, Mario Van Peebles, the director; Ray Liotta. The first half of the film I shot when I weighed about 214. I went on my international tour and trained the entire time I was out there. I came back and I made it to, like, 160 pounds.
VCR: You went on an all-water diet?
I was just on liquids. It wasn’t just straight water until I got back. It was really hard, but when it got to the third week of being on just liquids I started looking at Christian Bale’s weight loss in The Machinist, and a film called Hunger [about ’80s IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands], where the actual actor did the physical transformation. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, too.
VCR: When you were on the liquid diet, did you drink Vitaminwater?
I didn’t have any! I was overseas, and a lot of the time I was drinking regular water. Some brand of water I don’t even know where it comes from.
VCR: You don’t get a lifetime supply as part of the sale of the Vitaminwater Company?
They’re supposed to send it to me, but it’s not like they just mail it to me all the time.
VCR: When you were on the diet, what food did you miss most?
Everything that came on television! (Laughs.) There was a point at which a commercial would come on and I’d be hungry based on seeing the commercial — just seeing the food alone would spark something. The physical part of the training, for instance — running on the treadmill a lot helped, because it was suppressing my appetite. After coming back from that, I’d feel the exhaustion of the physical activity as opposed to feeling hungry.
VCR: But was there one thing that you really missed that, when you went off the diet, you went and got it and let no one stand in your way?
The first thing I had to eat when I got off the diet was a 12-ounce filet mignon, and I ate about three bites of it. I was content with that because it’s what I wanted to eat. Then I had macaroni, potatoes, stuff like that. And I remember — it was the day that Floyd Mayweather was fighting Shane Mosley — I tried to go to a sports bar so I could watch the fight and I was falling asleep in there because the hunger just made me tired.
VCR: When you went off the diet and you had just regular food, did you find that your senses — your sense of taste and your sense of smell — changed at all?
I don’t think they changed, but for me, coming off the diet was just about the excitement — I was eating everything!
VCR: What flavor?
Cinnamon! (Laughs) I was eating a bunch of stuff — all kinds of junk food. Everything, trying to put the weight back on. I know I have to be back out in public.
VCR: Speaking of senses changing — when you listen to music, having worked with it for such a long time, has your perception of it changed, overall?
Absolutely. It’s becoming a case of more of the older sounds coming back, too — like Kanye West’s new single [“Power,” featuring Dwele] reminds me of [Toni Basil’s] “Mickey,” — with the handclaps, and the way the record feels. It feels like something from the past. It recycles, like fashion recycles. Like Erykah Badu, when she first came out, the rap from her was so old that it sounded new, it felt new.
VCR: What did you think of the nude Erykah Badu video for her recent song “Window Seat”?
I was extremely entertained by it. I didn’t understand why, conceptually, she chose that for that song. I spent more time looking at it online than on television. I spent more time thinking what she was thinking.
VCR: So you’re in support of more Erykah Badu-related nudity?
I can’t say that I’m opposed to it! It wouldn’t be a negative thing — I mean, it didn’t make me throw up! (Laughs).
VCR: Tell me about the new book with Robert Greene.
The 50th Law — it’s doing great! It’s a different territory that I went in. On tour I was having book releases at the same time, doing some book signings.
VCR: It’s based on Greene’s book The 48 Laws of Power?
VCR: Well, what happened to the 49th Law?
(Pause.) We skipped it! (Laughs.)
VCR: So what was it?
The 49th Law is “Read the 50th.” (Laughs.)
VCR: Now that you’re on tour and you’ve toured all over the world, is there a place that you’ve never toured that you want to?
I haven’t been to Alaska. I’ve pretty much been everywhere else. Why not? We’ve got this myth of Alaska, with the Eskimos and everything, but it might be a lot different.
50 Cent appears Saturday, June 5, at the Ventura Theater, 26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura. 653-0721, www.venturatheater.net.