Earlier this week XXL presented “Artists Speak On Their Songs Remade for 50 Cent Is The Future,” commemorating the mixtape’s 10-year anniversary. In addition to artists such as Prodigy and Tweet who had nothing but positive statements for the mixtape’s creation, XXL was able to speak with one of the original founders of G-Unit—Sha Money XL. Though he’s currently a Def Jam executive overseeing acclaimed artists such as Big K.R.I.T., the Queens native once worked alongside Jam Master Jay, and molded a solid relationship with 50 Cent in the late ’90s. Their bond eventually formed G-Unit and soon 50 Cent is the Future was created, which brought massive attention to the clique that led to 50′s signing with Interscope that skyrocketed his career. In addition to contributing as a producer for 50 Cent is the Future, Sha Money XL broke down his role as an engineer, friend, distributor, and A&R behind the celebrated mixtape. —Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)
XXL: How did you first link with 50 Cent?
Sha Money XL: Well, through Jam Master Jay. I’m from Hollis, Queens. [Jam Master Jay] was my mentor—I used to produce in his studio, hang out with him all the time, and he used to play me all his artists from Onyx all the way down to 50. 50 was his new artist, he was playing 50 for me in his studio. I was like, “Yo this kid is nice, man! I want to meet him, I want to work with him.” Jam Master Jay saw me get real excited about 50, so he was like, “Hold up, he lives right up the street.” You know we was in Southside, so he was like, “I’m going to get him!” So he went and got 50 and hopped out—Jam Master Jay had a green Land Cruiser. He hopped out of that shit and said, “Come outside.” I walked outside and I seen a kid with a cross chain. It was an ill unique chain I have never seen someone have. It was some nigga that I ain’t know rap, and had a dope chain on so I liked that. I seen him, he was a little chubbier looking and shit, but you could tell he was a street nigga and that’s when I met him.
Okay. How’d y’all link back together?
After he left Jam Master Jay as an artist, he went with the Trackmasters. Coincidentally, Steve Stoute is my neighbor—you know I live on the same block in Queens, and I used to ask him, “Yo, you know I do beats, man. Set me up to where Trackmasters working at.” He was like, “Aight, man. I’m going to call Polk so he could hear your beats.” So I drive up an hour to a studio in Bearsville, New York by myself.
Didn’t Kool G Rap record 4, 5, 6 over there?
Everybody. Classics were recorded up there. So I drive up there dolo and I’m nervous. I’m young as fuck. You know what I’m saying? And as soon as I get there I see Polk, but the first familiar face I see is 50. I’m like, “Yo, you here?” He’s like, “Yeah, man. I’m trying to get signed, they got me here working, so I’m going to work everyday ‘til they sign me.” So Cory [Rooney] had sent him out there to work with the Trackmasters. So [50 and I], we’re two Queens niggas. He seen me—I’m on my energetic young nigga shit, I’m eager for it. I start playing him one of my beats; he wrote “Power of the Dollar” right there. The first track we recorded was the title track to his album Power of the Dollar over my beats! I seen him knock two songs out a day for 18 days, had 36 records at the end of 18 days, mostly produced by Trackmasters and two or three of them done by me. “Be a Gentleman,” everything that we put on Guess Who’s Back. That was on Power of the Dollar, “Ghetto Qu’ran,” all those records were recorded 18 days, 2 records a day. Motherfuckers were there for 18 days and had 2 songs. This nigga 50 had 38. He said, “There’s no way I’m going to leave this place without a record deal. If I don’t have a record deal, I’m going to have 38 Trackmasters’ tracks.” That’s what I remember him telling me. I said, “This nigga smart.” That’s when I realized he was smart comparatively early, so he was right! Do the math. Either they’re going to sign you or you’re going to walk away with these records, but either way you walking away with some shit!
Right, that’s smart.
He got shot. So all those records just kind of went to the wayside, so I put it out on Guess Who’s Back. That was the first thing that came out a month before the actual mixtape that we’re talking about came out.
Where was 50 Cent is the Future recorded?
I had a house in Westbury. It was in my basement. It was the first house I owned when I was 24 years old. When I moved out of Queens from the hood and I got some money. Every mixtape G-Unit did from 50 Cent is the Future until his first album came out. We recorded everything there. I was the engineer. I self taught myself engineering, I never even knew what I was doing. Those mixtapes were done on decks. This is right when people were being able to get Pro Tools. Then I got Pro Tools Digital 1—this is all kind of technical shit people don’t even understand like this is before MP3s, this is before iTunes and all that. We were doing this in ’02. That mix tape came out when? May 2002, right?
Yeah, right around Banks’ birthday, man. The crazy thing is [Lloyd Banks] got shot and the mixtape came out and it changed his life.
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