On this day, Feb. 6, in hip-hop history...

Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records

2003: It’s been 15 years since 50 Cent first bum-rushed the game with his mind-numbing debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Surpassing gold status in less than a week (selling more than 800,000 copies), with seven entries on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and four Grammy nominations (among a long-list of others noms), Fif’s 2003 opus successfully cemented the former hustler as a rap phenomenon.

Opening with his signature 50 cents coin drops, and closing with the reflective “Gotta Make It to Heaven,” Get Rich or Die Tryin’ allowed us a look inside the paranoid mind of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson: the South Jamaica, Queens drug dealer shot nine times only to survive, get dropped from Columbia Records and later hold court on Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records. His cold-bloodedness on the mic seeped throughout the album— whether he was being contemplative (“Many Men,” “Gotta Make It to Heaven”) or menacing (“Don’t Push Me,” “What Up Gangsta”). His attempt at winning the hip-hop outsiders even worked thanks to the Dr. Dre-produced smash “In Da Club” and Nate Dogg-featured “21 Questions.”

All in all, the rapper’s debut proved to be pivotal in the rapper’s career, taking him from the corners of the blood soaked streets of South Jamaica, Queens to becoming a rap goliath turned businessman. Not bad for a self-proclaimed ‘Bad-Guy.’ —Ralph Bristout

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