The rapper known as 50 Cent is living proof that hip-hop is as much a lifestyle as it is a type of music. He was a star in the underground mix-tape circuit for several years, but the rest of the world did not hear about him until 2002, when his first single, “Wanksta,” appeared on the soundtrack of the film 8 Mile. In 2003, 50 Cent’s debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’, topped the charts and broke sales records. As a result, the young rapper was constantly in the press, and his life became an open book. This was not a “studio gangsta,” meaning a musician who makes up stories about drugs, violence, and murder in order to sell records; 50 Cent was the real deal. He grew up on the streets of New York, survived being shot at nine times, and used those experiences to fuel his songs. As a result, critics noted that his music had a gritty edge, and they predicted that 50 Cent would be the next hip-hop heavyweight.
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