No reason to fear 50 Cent, right? I try telling myself that while heading toward Manhattan's Flatiron District for a one-on-one interview with the much-shot gangsta MC. The man born Curtis Jackson (but Fitty to his fans) has done a video with Dustin Hoffman and a song with Justin Timberlake, probably the two unscariest guys in the universe,I rationalize.
So why, as I wait to be buzzed in behind G-Unit Clothing's wall of bulletproof glass, am I shaking?
Curtis himself is running a little late, so I take a seat in the company lobby, decorated with a faux-library of gold-painted books and a bigger-than-life poster of 50 that stares down at me. Great.
His publicist hands me a can of the new Vitamin Water energy drink and allows me to explore the premises. The fashions on display, largely black and fluorescent green, are a bit gaudy. The topless ebony models, on the other hand, I can appreciate.
Soon I'm escorted into 50's office, which boasts a gym, stocked bar, recording booth and chrome-heavy bathroom that looks like it belongs in a prison. Below his flat-screen Panasonic is his DVD collection: Borat, Rocky, Snatch, Tsotsi, Full Metal Jacket...
"How ya doing?" 50 says suddenly. He entered the room silently and is now sticking out his hand. "Isn't it freezing in here?"
We retreat to the lobby, where he grabs a slice of somebody's pizza and tells me to hold on for a second. In a tilted white Yankees cap, blue T-shirt and white Reeboks, he looks shorter than — but just as thick as — I imagined. With awe, I note the bullet scar on his left cheek, and then, just below it, a giant crumb dangling from his chin.
An assistant dislodges it with a napkin, but suddenly Fitty is just another man to me. Maybe it's the Vitamin Water, but as we sit down to talk, I feel downright ballsy.
After getting some compulsory Curtis-related questions out of the way — Fitty's new album was released Tuesday — the real interview begins. "Do you ever worry that you'll become as crazy as über-superstars like Michael Jackson or Prince?" I ask.
"I don't think I'll go crazy," he says. "But, then again, crazy people don't think they're crazy."
Like his inflated lats, our bond continues to gain strength. Once, he brushes my knee with his when laughing, and later he even begins showing off. His lackeys talk quietly in the other room, and he yells for them to keep it down. They immediately go silent, and he winks at me.
Perhaps he's just drunk on his own power. At one point, he accosts a G-Unit Clothing employee walking by with a greasy bag.
"Is that food?" 50 asks.
"Yeah," responds the guy wearily, resigned to the inevitable. "You want some fries?"
Curtis takes the entire tub of fries, of course.
I don't like to throw around the term "man-crush," but 50 is the world's perfect interview subject, because he's a) super-famous and b) completely off the cuff. Barely prompted, he disses Kanye West, whose Graduation was also released Tuesday. (Perhaps, if you've been anywhere near the Internet recently, you already knew this.)
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"[Kanye] could come out [of the closet] and people would be like, 'You didn't notice how he dressed?'" saith 50.
Lil Wayne's much-blogged liplock with mentor Baby earlier this year draws this pearl: "I think it's odd for a man to kiss another man on his mouth."
All in all, he answers considerably more than 21 of my questions, making eye contact like a motherfucker the whole time. As I finish, his publicist anxiously tries to pull him away for a photo shoot. But before being shuffled off, he very deliberately turns around and waves good-bye to me. It feels like a moment.
I could be wrong, but it feels like a moment.