By now you’ve probably heard about VH1’s latest installment of their RockDoc’s series, 50 Cent: The Origin of Me, which chronicles 50’s return to his familial roots in South Carolina.
In conjunction with tonight’s (May 23) premiere, we talked to the documentary’s executive producer Sacha Jenkins (from such acclaimed shows as Ego Trip’s (White) Rapper Show and Miss Rap Supreme) about the ins-and-outs of bringing a project like this to fruition.—Khalid Salaam
XXLMag.com: What were the initial steps for putting the document in motion?
Sacha Jenkins: David Kamp of Vanity Fair did the initial research on doing a series on genealogy. Then once 50 was involved VH1 reached out to me since I’ve interviewed him several times. I produced it with my company Roadside Entertainment.
Was 50 involved from the start?
The initial research started before 50 was involved, but when VH1 stumbled upon this interesting story they reached out to his people. From what I understand he was the first and only option due to his unique story.
Why specifically the Genealogy angle?
Genealogy is not a new thing, NBC had a show recently called Who Am I and in general it’s become something people are interested in.
Right, there’s the work Dr. Henry Louis Gates has done for example.
Exactly, of course we’re approaching it from a different way and a lot of that is because musicians are more interesting for these kinds of things than say actors or athletes. Actors spend a lot of time playing other people and a lot of time who they really are unknown. It’s not about them. With athletes its about sports and athleticism. They aren’t always asked what the inspiration was behind their latest dunk. Musicians are always asked to describe their inspirations. 50 is a unique case because his life in itself is, I don’t want to say spectacular, but he beat a lot of odds. And a lot of the people in this town, Edgefield also beat the odds
What was the experience when everyone first got to Edgefield?
50 still has relatives down there. He has aunts down there and a bunch of cousins he never met. He hasn’t been down there since he was 9 years old. One thing 50 and I talked about is one of the reasons why his music caught on in the south is because his grandmother has a strong southern accent. He was raised by her and there are some remnants of that in his speech. There are connections both linguistically and culturally. His family has been in that area for generations on his mother’s side. Somehow, the city hall of records has remained intact so you can trace it all the way to slavery documents.
So what you’re saying is it wasn’t destroyed in any of the fires of the Civil War?
No, this town didn’t get burned down a lot. Stuff here goes back a long way. A lot of people kept records.
Where exactly is Edgefield and what was their response to all the cameras and filming?
It’s about an hour and a half from Columbia and about the same from Augusta, GA. We stayed down there for a week and, I’m from NY, so as a northerner when you go to the south you go with certain expectations. You get a sense when you go there that people of different races get along but they stay in their comfort zones and their routines. I found everyone to be cordial. History for these people is a big deal, especially for White people. There is still wealth, still big houses that have been passed down for generations that were financed through slavery. There is a sense of pride that you have when you’re from the south.
FOR MORE OF SACHA JENKINS, GO TO PAGE 2