By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
We didn't mind. Aside from meeting one of the all-time greats, he was making paper, and we all respect that.
"The year before, he tweeted he had to have that shirt, and once he did that, I had a line of folks waiting for the shirt, but we never got to meet up," Rolando says. "Then I ran into him at Boondocks, we talked for a bit and he told me on the next batch he would come to me and get one.
"Once I had a new batch ready, I text-messaged him, and he came down and got one and tweeted it out," he continues, "and I had a line of folks again.
"He even tweeted out the hats I made, and the DJ from Paris, France, Brodinski, ordered one," Rolando says. "He had to have it because Bun B tweeted it out. The guy paid more in shipping than the actual hat to get it."
When you think of rappers out in public, you're less inclined to think of them meeting you on a street corner to buy a T-shirt than maybe seeing them in the club or someplace swanky. That was the case when my nephew, James, and his lovely wife, Brooke, met Coolio. Their simple Las Vegas hotel elevator ride turned into a "gangsta's paradise" when the rapper and his entourage of groupies entered.
Both Brooke and James report that Coolio was an absolute gentleman and very personable.
An August 2003 Jay Z/50 Cent concert left quite an impression on the author, then 15 years old.
When I went to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion last month, escorting two women to see Kid Rock, nostalgia had begun to set in. I work as a chauffeur and have driven plenty of people to concerts over the years; taking kids to see Ke$ha felt like I was committing a sin. On the way to One Direction, the preteen girls in the car fawned over Harry Styles and begged me, "Do you have any hip-hop?"
Preteen girls are the worst at that.
But my first-ever visit to CWMP occurred ten years ago this month. You see, long before Jay Z married Beyoncé, he had to be wed to 50 Cent for about three months. Not in the literal sense, but the two were then co-headlining their own tour, were both bedfellows with Reebok, and they had a mini-Cold War going on stemming from 50's inclusion of Jay on 1999's "How to Rob" and Jay's retort, "I'm about a dollar, what the fuck is 50 Cent?" at Summer Jam later that year. It made for one interesting night.
Not to be left out, it was also the night I lost my concert virginity. And this was 2003, so names like Sean Paul and Fabolous mattered. Elaborate New York-themed backdrops for 50 Cent to assert that he was the king of the city mattered. Busta Rhymes doing his best to outshine everybody positioned ahead of him mattered.
Online, very little exists that constitutes press for the concert, the biggest rap show ever held at the Pavilion at the time. A May 2003 article from the Houston Chronicle gave a small hint of Jay Z's then-nascent relationship with Beyoncé. Everybody who was there, including the 15-year-old me who had became a Jay Z fan for good after 2001's The Blueprint, remembers a mostly flawless live show, including a Beyoncé appearance on "'03 Bonnie & Clyde."
Even then they played like the cutest sort-of couple in existence. Despite Hov's being the headliner, the crowd had to pull itself together after the three-man onslaught that was G-Unit. To date, it's the only time I can think of that Jay seemed overshadowed, outpositioned and outmuscled by somebody, and that guy was 50 Cent.
The second half of my freshman year of high school, all signs pointed toward 50 Cent being a thing. Like, wifebeaters and muscles literally became a thing in high school. Dudes wanted to wear their do rags and let the tail get tucked in and try to punch people. You know how lame it is now to ask a chick "21 Questions"? In 2003, that got you all the women.
Couldn't tell a dude nothing if he asked a girl, "Would you cheat on a test for me?" in that part-New York, part-down South accent 50 had mastered after he got shot.
Let that sink in for a minute: He got better after being shot.
I didn't have a date to the concert, so I went with a childhood friend and his homeboy, who looked like he put out blunts with the ends of his shaggy black hair. I think he's in jail now; who knows?
In other words, no girl was getting my "21 Questions" approach that night. But it was clearly a learning experience, one that a decade later almost seems like a distant world — one where 50 Cent was clearly the most intimidating presence in music.
And a hero to every short man who loved wearing brassiere-like wifebeaters in public.
ASK WILLIE D
THE FRIEND ZONE
A reader is in love with her best friend. What would Willie do?