50 Cent: Polite, Soft-Spoken, Can F You Up

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Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and, albeit sometimes awkwardly, tie it to a bit of Houston rap. We'll incorporate the number five in there somewhere. Send tips to introducingliston@gmail.com. 50 Cent is one of the most successful rappers of the last ten years. His first two albums, the first of which is a verifiable classic, have sold more than 26 million copies. He's crushed any and all who have attempted to remove the "King of the Rap Beef" crown from his head. And he's been the star of movies, video games and deodorant ads. 50 will be performing Saturday at the Arena Theatre, and made himself available for interviews on Wednesday. We e-stood on line and got a few minutes with him. A few bulleted notes from our interview:

  • The way it works with bigger-name artists, you'll get a call from a handler a few minutes before, but usually after, you're supposed to speak with him or her. Our phone rang, we answered, then a guy on the other line patched us through. At that point a woman with whom we had not yet spoken - 50 has two handlers, because that's the kind of thing you can spend your money on when you make $100 million after you sell your stake in Vitamin Water - said, "50, here's Shea, she's on the phone now." Goddamnit.
  • He's very polite and very soft-spoken. And you can make out his slight slur pretty easily if you listen. But none of this betrays a sense of weakness or vulnerability. You like him, but kind of in the same way that you like someone that you know could eff you up if he felt the need to do so. It's the same way we felt about King Kong in King Kong.
  • 50 has a movie coming out called Things Fall Apart, where he plays a football player who gets diagnosed with cancer. He lost 54 pounds for the role. He said he was compelled to do this because one of his best friends died of cancer, and he wanted to experience and display the same sort of physical deterioration he watched him go through. Part of the way that he lost he weight was sticking to a rigid liquid diet. When we asked him if it consisted of nothing but Vitamin Water, which 50 has been a spokesman for, he laughed and said, "I didn't have Vitamin Water. I'm not trying to sell nothing."
  • Also, regarding the weight loss, he said he had in mind the efforts of guys like ?Robert DeNiro and Tom Hanks, both of whom lost significant weight for roles. He also cited Christian Bale, who whittled himself down to bone for his part in The Machinist. He said they both cut about the same amount of weight, but that "I started at 214 and got down to 160. He looked like he was five pounds [in that movie]." 50 Cent is clearly a very smart fellow, but he's terrible at guessing weight.
  • Mario Van Peebles is working on the film as well. We totally whiffed on making a New Jack City joke. How many times in your life do you get to talk a Grammy-winning rapper and have Mario Van Peebles organically pop in conversation? Once is our guess. This is going to bother us for months.
  • During a conversation about the cyclical nature of rap, the subject of protégés came up. We pulled his card on it, saying "Kanye has Kid Cudi. Jay-Z has J. Cole. Lil' Wayne has Drake. Where's yours, 50?" His response: "You haven't heard Lloyd Banks?" He then went on to explain how it's not one artist's job to groom an up-and-comer. He said the lead artist simply cosigns for the new artist. It's up to the new artist to leave his own imprint, just like he did after Eminem put him on. He effectively disemboweled our attempt at calling him out in about 45 seconds. He is all about business.
  • He's been touring internationally for the last three years. A rumor recently emerged that he had an all Eurodance album on the horizon called Black Magic. This is false. He does have a song inspired by it, but it likely won't make the album. That's probably for the better.
  • He said that he viciously over records for his album. He still has tracks that he recorded for Get Rich or Die Tryin' that haven't surfaced. That album came out seven years ago.

8 p.m. Saturday, June 12, at the Arena Theatre, 7326 SW Fwy., 713-772-5900 or www.arenahouston.com. If you can't go, be here Monday to read the review. Wanksta.

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