From 2002 to 2005, there was nothing bigger in hip hop than 50 cent. He had just knocked Ja Rule out of his spot at the top of the charts, kicked his shoes off, and made that his new home. 50 and G-Unit were scorching, even before his record-breaking solo debut “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”. It was almost as if fif, Banks, and Yayo couldn’t release garbage, even if they tried. They were revolutionizing mixtapes, using it almost as a marketing plan and a build up for official studio albums. There’s no argument that they have a huge hand in why mixtapes play such a pivotal role for an artist in today’s game. Shady/Interscope was already a powerhouse in itself, with Eminem and Dr.Dre, Fifty and friends were just building a new empire on top of an empire. For that span of 2002 through 2005, everything G-Unit released (“Beg For Mercy”- G-Unit, “Hunger For More” – Lloyd Banks, “Welcome to Cashville”- Young Buck, “The Documentary”- The Game, “Thoughts of a Predicate Felon”- Tony Yayo, “The Massacre” – 50 Cent) was either certified gold, platinum or in the case of 50’s debut, diamond status (10 million plus, worldwide). Not taking away from the quality music that the group was putting out, but a huge piece of their success was from controversy as well.
G-Unit, mainly 50 cent, had issues with pretty much everyone at the height of their success. 50 had wiped Ja Rule clean off the face of hip hop, and continued documenting beefs with The Lox, Fat Joe, and Nas. These “beefs”, were just a money move for fif and it kept business booming. Though it didn’t dent any of his opponents careers too heavily (the way it did for murder inc.), it did disrupt any type of New York unity, maybe planting a seed for the sharp fall off on our branch of hip hop. However, piece by piece, the empire began falling apart. First, it was the Game. The Game wanted to collaborate with Nas and Jadakiss, who he grew up on ,and fifty took it personally as if it was a matter of disloyalty. The Game eventually started a G-Unot campaign, which whether people want to believe it or not, put a real scar on the G-Unit brand. It magnified the whole myth of 50 cent being a snitch, and took a lot of credibility from him, specifically on a street level. Next it was Young Buck. Apparently Buck was growing frustrated with his situation with the Unit, and started acting out publicly about it. This eventually led to him getting the boot, and 50 cent releasing a message recorded in his inbox from Buck crying about being given another chance. With Game and Buck out of the picture, it was crazy, but it was a business based relationship between 50 and them, not like the relationship Curtis had with Banks and Yayo. Banks, Yayo and Fifty were the original G-Unit, all Queens bred. But even those relationships eventually saw their demise. Banks and Fifty often danced around the topic of a falling out, but even Stevie Wonder could sense tension there. You never saw them together anymore, even in Bank’s brighter moments with “Beamer, Benz or Bentley”, and his consistent mixtape releases, 50 was no where to be found. 50 eventually grazed the situation, subtly remarking that Bank’s work ethic was not up to par with his own. Bank’s side of the argument was that his father had just passed, he needed some time to recover and fif was kind of callus and insensitive towards it. That only left Yayo. It was all good until yesterday, at least to the outsider. Though 50 declared the G-Unit brand to be a thing of the past, we still assumed there were still relationships considering it was more than music among the original 3. Just yesterday on Yayo’s Instagram, he posted, “50 ain’t rocking with me and Banks the same I layed my life down for the unit but you live and learn”. That you do. Though G-unit (as a collective) has been over on a level of relevance for years, it seems its over in every sense.
On top of the last link (Yayo), coming out about his detachment from the group, just today news broke of 50 leaving Shady/ Interscope, and taking the independent route. Mr. Curtis Jackson came to an agreement on an independent deal with Capital/UMG. The first thing that came to mind when I heard that, was a conversation 50 had with Styles P on the Angie Martinez show in 2007. After years of trading diss tracks, Angie Martinez played Mediator and got 50 on the phone with P. It was a civil conversation, but when Styles was arguing his decision of going independent, 50 mocked him about the independent money vs major label money, and specifically that Style’s label, “Koch”, was a graveyard for artists who were passed their prime. Ironic. Styles has seen more success and relevance on a music level with his independent grind since that point than fif, even with the machine backing that 50 had. Talk about a fall from grace, but its funny how history repeats itself (It’s murdaaaaaa). You can’t help but think how 50 displaced Ja from mainstream America, ruthless and relentlessly, and then see the same machine turn against him. That’s how the game goes. For the first time ever, 50 and Ja are at the same level of relevance. 50 cent’s gangsta persona has become discredited by the fact that he’s been out of that lifestyle for more than a decade and he struggles to reinvent himself. After 50’s attack on Rick Ross backfired, Ross dropped Teflon Don and became a megastar while fif just dropped, period. He hasn’t dropped an album since 2009, and nobody cares. 50 put so much time into destroying other people’s reputation, when he should have taken the time to re-evaluate his own craft, so eventually he self destructed, just as his last album title stated, “Before I self destruct”. More Irony. He’s now making records with Fat Joe, in the studio with Jadakiss and Style’s for his next album, and according to Cam, Fif is in business talks with the dipset cheif (who he had another feud with). Is it growth? or is it accepting the fact that you’re defeated?. Either or, the man is going to make his money, shit, he’s got enough endorsements that he never needs to write another lyric in his life, and it’s probably better off that way. Side Bar: At least “Get Rich or Die Tryin’, will always be considered a staple in hip hop history, some rappers have endured success but are followed by the black cloud of never dropping that one classic.