50 Cent Taught Everybody How To Rob MCs 15 Years Ago This Week
Months after 50 Cent survived getting shot nine times in his own front yard, the Southside, Queens rapper released one of the decades most memorable diss tracks with the Trackmasters-produced cut, “How To Rob.” Fif released the single 15 years ago yesterday (August 10). The jux-meets-jokes record, which was featured most prominently in the LL Cool J led film, In Too Deep, officially belonged to 50’s unreleased debut album, Power Of The Dollar.
Fourteen summers before Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse, 50 Cent stirred the pot with his fearless sense of humor, channeling Hip-Hop’s deep seated love for competition. Whether or not you agree these verbal rivalries are good for the game, it’s hard to deny the sport keeps these lyrical athletes on their toes. Normally aimed at a specific person or group, 50 Cent used his opportunity to step out of the box and take on everybody in the game. “Everybody” is hardly an overstatement. The lineup of artists he “robbed” was over 40 deep and included the likes of Jay-Z, DMX, RZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Ma$e, P. Diddy, Big Pun, Slick Rick, Jermaine Dupri, Heavy D, Brian McKnight, and even the boxer, Mike Tyson. The track originally had Mariah Carey’s name floating around but was taken out due to threats that she—then a flagship star of the label—would leave Columbia if it dropped.
In an interview with HOT 97 (22:00) earlier this year, 50 Cent admitted that the track’s release was completely out of desperation.
“That was desperation. That was desperation. I was already out the game. I was out. I was already out the game, there was no way of getting in. And what I was doing was…I was putting a record deal that was saying, well, look. ‘Cause that was my first impression. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression.”
He made an impression alright. Ultimately, the track burgeoned the same kind of response that Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse received in today’s world. 50’s playful banter was met with some dismissive bars and quotes in tracks from some of Hip-Hop’s biggest names including Ghostface Killah, Sticky Fingaz, Big Pun and Kurupt. Jay-Z, who 50 says personally loved the track, also responded on his single “It’s Hot (Some Like It Hot)” with the memorable line, “Go against Jigga yo’ ass is dense / I’m about a dollar, what the fuck is 50 Cent?”
Introduced with controversy, by the time 50 Cent found his next home with Shady Records, Heads knew what kind of surprises to expect. Polite rappers rarely make the news…
In 2014 we know 50 Cent to be that same unabashedly confident, yet far more successful figurehead that he was over 15 years ago. The man who made a career out of talking trash on and off the mic in later years, most notably with the likes of Cam’Ron, Game, Ja Rule, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, and even Nas, has not only made the the art of the diss track more accessible to artists and fans alike, but took the art form from a man to man defense all the way to the full court press.
So, “what’s beef,” you ask? Just ask 50.