Climbing the mountain of rap and claiming himself king after surviving an attempt on his life, 50 Cent's meteoric rise from the intensive care unit to the top of the Billboard charts is one of the biggest success stories rap has ever scene. Hip-Hop has long had an affinity for the underdog and someone that has been dropped from their record label and left for dead after being riddled with bullets and blackballed by the industry makes for the perfect candidate.
Building his fan base and leverage with a string of high-powered mixtapes, 50 Cent created a bidding war among music's biggest executives and brands, ultimately partnering with Eminem and Dr. Dre and siding with the Shady/Aftermath machine. What would follow would be one of the most historic coming out parties in music history, as 50 Cent's major label debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin' would become one of the most successful albums of the decade and turned him into an international star and the undisputed sales king in rap.
Following up Get Rich or Die Tryin' with his sophomore release, The Massacre, which sold a whopping 1.15 million copies in its first week, 50 Cent was on an unprecedented run of success that has been yet to be duplicated, however, his reign would be threatened in the years following The Massacre, as a certain Louis Vuitton Don's music and brand was also rising in popularity. Being the alpha male that he is, 50 Cent, reading the writing on the wall, went on the offensive, challenging Kanye West to a head-to-head sales battle with their third solo albums, creating one of the biggest musical events of its time.
In the end, 50 Cent's third solo LP, Curtis, would be bested by Kanye West's Graduation album on the charts, effectively signaling a shift in the landscape of hip-hop. However, ten years later, 50 Cent remains much in the mix of things, proving that we all can bounce back from a loss, especially one where the consolation prize is a platinum plaque.
In celebration of its 10 year anniversary, we highlight five of the best songs from 50 Cent's Curtis album that have stood the test of time.
"Straight to the Bank"50 Cent
"When I'm out in N.Y., boy, it's blunts and Phillies/When I'm out in L.A., boy, it's wraps and Swishers," 50 Cent muses on "Straight to the Bank," the first single released in anticipation of the G-Unit boss' third studio album, Curtis. Produced by Ty Fyffe, with additional production from Dr. Dre, "Straight to the Bank" would fall short of the seismic success of his previous singles, but debuted at No. 32 on the Hot 100 off the strength of his star power alone. While it may not have been a bonafide smash in terms of metrics, "Straight to the Bank" has been remembered kindly a decade after the fact and one of the best songs on 50's Curtis album.
Curtis may have been built around explosive singles meant to dominate the Billboard charts and radio, but the album also boasts multiple deep cuts that are too good to ignore, one of them being "Man Down." Produced by DJ Don Cannon & Detroit Red, "Man Down" captures the G-Unit general in a murderous mind-state, chanting "I'll murder them," on the track's hook and taking it back to his roots with one of the more aggressive offerings on Curtis.
Finding traction on the upper reaches of the Billboard charts with syrupy hooks geared towards the ladies, 50 Cent sticks to the script on "Amusement Park," an infectious tune from the rapper's 2007 studio release, Curtis. The second single released preceding 50 Cent's showdown with Kanye West, "Amusement Park" finds 50 Cent getting frisky, with lines like "Shorty, you ain't gotta take your panties off, just pull 'em to the side" delivered with a wink and a smile. Although there was a bit of controversy surrounding the song's release, as Jim Jones had released a song on his DJ Drama mixtape called "Your Majesty" using the same beat, "Amusement Park" remains one of the more slept on ditties from the album.
"I'll Still Kill"50 Cent featuring Akon
Equally adept at creating monstrous collaborations as he is solo bangers, 50 Cent adds to his list of star-studded pairings on "I'll Still Kill" featuring Akon, from his Curtis album. Produced by DJ Khalil, "I'll Still Kill" (serviced as "Still Will" for radio), was the fifth single released from Curtis, but would ultimately become one of its most successful despite a low charting position, peaking at No. 95 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, over time, it has become one of the more memorable selections from the album as a whole and a signature hit in the catalog of Curtis.
After releasing two singles that failed to create the same amount of anticipation for his next studio album that surrounded Get Rich Or Die Tryin' and The Massacre, 50 Cent went back to the drawing board and emerged with "I Get Money," a song that was one of the biggest street bangers of its time. Produced by Apex, "I Get Money" lifts a sample from Audio Two's classic hit "Top Billin'" and is full of plenty of money talk on the part of Curtis Jackson. Peaking at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and coming on the heels of flipping his stake in Vitamin Water for a couple hundred million, "I Get Money" stands as a defining moment in 50 Cent's career.