Originally published in the May 2000 issue of XXL, the following interview was published when 50 Cent’s controversial single “How to Rob” made noise throughout New York City. While it didn’t sit too well with many rappers that were comically victimized on the song, several, including NaS who 50 later openly dissed on record, reached out to the then young Queens rapper and built an early camaraderie. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of 50′s landmark debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin, which was released on February 4, 2003, XXL is digging up its extensive archive to share some of the best 50 Cent stories throughout the week. Check out the first installment below.
When 50 Cent dropped “How To Rob,” last year, he pissed off a lot of people. In the aftermath, several MCs made on-wax responses that were clearly not in 50′s favor, to say the last. While he’s been quite quiet of late, the Queens-bred troublemaker has returned with his long-awaited debut, Power of the Dollar. Hoping to prove he’s more than a one-hit wonder, one must wonder, does 50 regret any of the drama his song has caused? Don’t bet on it. —Bonsu Thompson
XXL: What rappers actually like 50 cent?
50: Me and Nas got a relationship. Bravehearts, Nashawn and CNN. I ain’t even been hated on by the people-I-hated-on’s friends.
XXL: Were you aiming to anger certain rappers?
50: We know the game has changed, the artists are getting a lot more money so it’s like, how to rob them. It was a warning to a point in a comedic way I wanted to make it funny at the same time. That’s why I got the Madd Rapper [on the song].
XXL: What about the negative way rappers look at you?
50: I prefer that. A hit record affects you. If I made that record and it wasn’t good, nobody would’ve mentioned it.
XXL: Did you really fight Ja Rule in Atlanta?
50: Yeah. I went down there with just my road manager and my DJ. He rolled down there with him and eight other dudes. So when we got down there, homeboy gave me a little look. I laughed at him and went into the hotel. My road manager came in and asked me, “How do you want to handle this situaton with Ja?” I said, “I’ma go talk to him.” I tapped him like, “Yo, let me holler at you.” I told him why I made the record. He felt comfortable because he had eight dudes around him and starting going off at the mouth, so he got busted in his eye. He was on some show-off shit. How much of that are you going to take before you punch someone in the face?
XXL: How did it feel to get dissed by Jay-Z?
50: I seen him at [NY's Hot 97 FM] Summer Jam right after I dropped the record. Jay told me he was gonna say something back. He went on stage and said that rhyme, “I’m about a dollar, who the fuck is 50 Cent?” He spoke his piece and later he put it on his record—that’s hip-hop. Like when that kid Ghostface put something on his new record, I don’t know if you heard it of not…
XXL: Oh yeah, at the end of his album. What’s up with that?
50: That was surprising to me, that they [Wu-Tang] would do that because I was expecting Ghost to come with something. That was weak to me. Saying that on record and changing your voice is like you scared. And outside of that Sticky Fingaz made a record…
XXL: Yeah. Were you offended by that?
50: Not at all. I know that when you hurt a person’s feelings, they doing that in the heat of the moment. Sticky Fingaz was mad that I said something about him and I obviously hurt his feelings for him to return a shot like that. That might have been the biggest mistake he made of his career, by going on television and acting like he was going to beat up this white boy and then the white boy actually whips his ass. He shouldn’t have even put himself in that situation. If you lose, it stays there, it doesn’t go away. So next time you kick some hard-core shit, the only thing a nigga see is a white boy beatin’ your ass on MTV.
XXL: So you don’t have any second thoughts about making the song?
50: I ain’t never going to say something and say, “Yo, I didn’t mean that.” I thought that shit out. At first Madd Rapper asked Riche Nice and Tone & Poke, “Does he know what he’s doin’?” He hadn’t met me yet. He was like, “Is he a real street cat or is he just somebody who knows how to rap?” Me, I’m still a newborn, I’m still a baby to hip-hop so it [the attention] affects me, but when I break past this record, I’ma be bigger than the rest of this shit—a bigger, better artist. I hold myself down to the fullest. You never want it to go there, but if it does, by any means, I’m gonna handle my business.