Playboy: "In Da Club" is about being drunk on champagne, and "High All the Time" is about love for weed. But you don't really like drugs or booze.
50 Cent: It doesn't bother me to be around people who smoke weed, but I don't do it. I've been drunk only twice in my life--from champagne. That shit sneaks up on you! Those two times are what kept me away from it. I grew up in a house where my uncles and aunts, they had problems. They'd get drunk drunk. One time my uncle got drunk, and these old-timers said, "I bet you can't move that block of ice from there to there." He took the bet, picked up the ice, moved it. But it was dry ice. Burned the skin off his fucking hands.
Playboy: Do you believe drugs should be legalized?
50 Cent: Hell no, they shouldn't legalize drugs. That won't work here. Weed is the hustler's drug to sell. You can have five pounds before it's a felony. A onepound bag is still just a misdemeanor. Let them change the laws for weed to the same laws for cocaine, and people won't smoke that shit no more.
Playboy: At the height of your hustling, how much were you making?
50 Cent: Like $5,000 a day. I had a crack house on 160th Street with buckets of acid, so if the cops came, you would just push everything off the table into the bucket and there'd be no evidence.
Playboy: In July 1994 you got caught with heroin and crack. Here's a copy of the plea bargain you signed. What were you thinking when you signed it?
50 Cent: My lawyer said, "I'll get you out in six months." I said, "What? Give it here." I copped out right away, because they found a lot of shit in the house, and I thought the sentence would be a lot worse. I got arrested with 500 grams of cocaine.
Playboy: Instead of going to prison, you were sentenced to a shock-incarceration facility. What's that?
50 Cent: It's boot camp, a lot of physical training starting at five in the morning. I had to accept a drill sergeant screaming in my face. You can not accept him screaming in your face and go do three to nine years in jail, or you can let them say what they gotta say and do six months. It's an easy decision. I was sentenced to three to nine years in jail. Because it was a nonviolent charge, I turned it into something a little easier.
Playboy: Is that when you started rapping and first met up with your mentor, Jam Master Jay?
50 Cent: The whole time, I was like, Yo, I got to figure out something I can do. And I loved writing music. The whole object when I was hustling, when I was doing the wrong thing, was to generate enough finances to make legitimate investments. The object is to get money the way you know how, then move into legitimate business ventures. Everybody in that life should know there are two endings to it: You're dead, or you go to jail. There are no exceptions to the rule.
Playboy: When you were signed to Columbia, you decided to quit dealing. Then what happened?
50 Cent: I got a $65,000 advance; $50,000 went to Jam Master Jay, and $10,000 went to the attorney to negotiate my contractual release from Jay and do my contract with Columbia. I had only $5,000 left. I had to be able to provide for myself, so I took the $5,000 and turned it into 250 grams.
Playboy: You went back to dealing.
50 Cent: I had no choice.
Playboy: Do you think Jam Master Jay ripped you off?
50 Cent: He didn't. He took what he felt was his. I was never bitter at Jay, because what I learned from him is what allows me now to sell 10 million records. He groomed me. That's worth $50,000.
Playboy: After Columbia dropped you, Eminem signed you to Interscope. Does that help Eminem's credibility?
50 Cent: Do you think Em needs the money he generates from me? No way. He just loves hip-hop. If a record comes out, he has to have it, hear it, examine it. He's a lab rat--if we called, he'd probably be in the studio right now in Detroit. He gave me my shot. I love Eminem.
Playboy: In the song "White America," he says that if he were black, he'd sell half as many records. Would you be even bigger if you were white?
50 Cent: If I was white, I don't think they would have believed me. The suburbs identify with him. Em has problems with his mother, and when you're in the suburbs, your parents are your structure. Who do you get upset with when you can't go to the mall? Your parents. My experiences are hood experiences. Even though it could be a white boy in my neighborhood going through those same situations, it would be harder to believe.
Playboy: Would you have sold as many records if you weren't the guy who got shot nine times?
50 Cent: I know people who've been shot more than nine times. Some people realize the only thing that's cool about that is how I bounced back from it. In a lot of ways I'm a role model--people from that environment feel like they do have a chance.
Playboy: When you were hustling, did you meet Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, who's serving 37 months for possession of a handgun after a 10-year sentence for leading the Supreme Team, which dominated crack dealing in southern Queens?
50 Cent: Not back then. He's older than me. Later, when we did meet, we were cool at first, then we had differences. One time I heard he got into a fight, and I was looking at his face. He was like, "Yo, what are you looking all up in my face for?" I said, "I heard niggas whupped you. I'm checking." It ain't that serious, but I don't like the nigga.
Playboy: Some people think he might have had your mom killed.
50 Cent: I don't believe that. He wasn't even in that area where she was getting money. The cops thought he was responsible for me getting shot, too. We just don't get along. Fuck him. I was saying that before he went to jail. He don't like me, neither. He let niggas say shit about me that he was supposed to check at the gate. He was letting niggas call me a snitch. Where I'm from, you sentence a nigga to death by calling him a snitch.
Playboy: Ja Rule has a rhyme that goes, "So on ya grave it's gonna read: Here lies 50, who snitched on many." And Ja and Irv Gotti--the head of Ja's label, Murder Inc.--are friends with McGriff.
50 Cent: Them niggas is bitches.
Playboy: Ja Rule's latest record didn't sell very well.
50 Cent: That's what fucking happens! He makes a whole fucking album where he's attacking me. You say something negative about me, people are not going to like you. I always looked at Ja like he's a weak little nigga. He's never been in any of the tough-guy scenarios he raps about. He grew up a Jehovah's Witness, the nigga that knocks on your door on Saturday and tries to sell you a Watchtower. Meanwhile I was hustling to provide for myself. He's not strong enough or smart enough to maintain anything.
Playboy: It's been previously reported that Irv Gotti started Murder Inc. with drug money from McGriff.
50 Cent: I don't even want to talk about that. Saying that is telling. I'm not going to discuss those situations. You know, I get in a fucked-up zone when I start talking about these people.
Playboy: Your vocabulary just changed. Your posture changed. You got angry.
50 Cent: I get right back into that mind frame where I'm in the neighborhood, talking about "Fuck this one, fuck that one." I don't want to carry myself like that. I feel like I should be doing positive things. I want to build a community center for kids. But that's become part of my character. Before I take a timid position and be afraid, I say fuck it and jump out the window. I'll be the nigga they remember for killing a few of these niggas.
Playboy: Let's talk about what happened at the Hit Factory in March 2000.
50 Cent: That shit is so old.
Playboy: You got stabbed that night by Irv Gotti and a few of his associates.
50 Cent: A nick. I ended up getting three stitches.
Playboy: The newspapers said you had a punctured lung.
50 Cent: Not me! It was a scratch. It stopped bleeding on its own. I went home, and my grandmother said, "You should go to the hospital--you could get an infection." It was no big deal. They expanded that shit to make it look good for them. I had already punched this boy Ja Rule in the eye, in Atlanta.
Playboy: How did they get the jump on you?
50 Cent: When they came to the Hit Factory, they were truly blessed. If they had come about 10 minutes before, one of them would have been killed. Because my jacket was in another room. You see what I'm saying?
Playboy: You had a gun in your jacket.
50 Cent: I would have tried to kill anybody that came in the room. In New York State you're allowed to use the same force to protect yourself as a person is using against you. So I'd have just started firing. Fuck it.
Playboy: Did you--
50 Cent: Yo, I don't even want to go down that road. People keep asking about it. If you didn't ask about it, I wouldn't mention it. But I don't want to not answer the questions you're asking. It's over. The shit is dead. Homey don't even sell records no more.