50 Cent, “Crew Love” (Originally Published December/January 2012)
50 Cent has been hanging out with welterweight boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. A lot lately. In fact, they've formed a sort of club. What exactly is the money team?
Interview: Vanessa Satten
THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN CASH, MAYBE MORE, IN STUDIO B OF BROOKLYN’S FAST ASHLEY’S STUDIOS, AND IT ALL BELONGS TO 50 CENT AND FLOYD MAYWEATHER. THE MULTIMILLIONAIRE PALS ARE BOTH IN TOWN FOR SOME QUICK BUSINESS AND ARE HAPPY TO VISIT WITH EACH OTHER AT AN XXL PHOTO SHOOT. THEY’VE BEEN GOOD BUDDIES for almost 10 years. 50 met the Michigan-born boxer at the 2002 Mixshow Power Summit conference in Puerto Rico and often stays at Mayweather’s house when he’s in Las Vegas. The warmth of their friendship has been documented on the HBO reality series 24/7, which has featured Floyd—the current WBC World Welterweight Champion, with a record of 42-0—in five seasons over the past four years. More recently there was a funny bit where the two of them talk on their “money phones,” thick stacks of $100 bills that they hold up to their ears like receivers.
They have a lot in common, each rising from violent, impoverished pasts to the upper echelons of their extremely lucrative fields, and each often painted negatively in the press. Most recently, in September, the 34-year-old Floydhit the jackpot with a victorious bout against Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand—he had negotiated a deal wherein he earned a percentage of ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships and broadcasting rights. Lately, 50 and Floyd have been talking a lot about The Money Team, a sort of club they’ve formed among business associates, such as Mayweather’s manager, the controversial, publicity-averse concert and boxing promoter Al Haymon.
For 50 and Floyd, even when they’re just hanging out with friends, the business never stops. The money phones stay ringing.
When you talk to each other on the money phone, what do you talk about?
Floyd: Making more money.
50: Making more money. [Laughing]
Floyd: We talk to each other on the money phone about making
more money. [Laughing]
So what is The Money Team?
Floyd: The Money Team is just… He can tell you that. It’s just us…
50: Check it out, Floyd. When they see us come and be out and stuff like that, it created a brand for that, for us to be in together. So that turned into—
Floyd: The Money Team is money, is power and is respect.
50: It’s allowing all of us to communicate with each other on a level where—
Who is “us”?
Floyd: It’s a lot of us. The team is, The Money Team is worldwide, and it’s growing. It’s growing each day.
50: You know what it is? It’s more of a—
Floyd: And it’s organized. When you with The Money Team, it’s, like, you make certain calls, and we can make certain things happen for you. I don’t care where you at—we can make something happen for you. You know what I’m saying?
Do you have to have a lot of money to be a part of The Money Team?
Floyd: No, no, no. But you owe me one.
So The Money Team is an actual, functioning thing? It’s not just, “Ooh, it’s cool, we got a lot of money”?
Floyd: No, The Money Team is not funny.
50: Look how much fun we have. Today I gave him a million
dollars. After we done with this—
You’re just gonna give it to him?
50: No, I got him a million dollars.
Floyd: He put something together for me. Ain’t no different for him. Like, when he come out there, I say, “50, okay, listen. Do you believe me?” He says, “Yeah, I believe you.” I say, “Well, bet on a knockout, and I can guarantee I’ma knock Ortiz out. And if I don’t knock him out, whatever you bet, I will give it back to you.”
50: So, now, you get everything you can get, and you put in on the fight.
Floyd: “50, whatever you bet, I’ll give it back to you.”
So you’re using your money to protect and build up everyone that’s a part of The Money Team?
Floyd: The Money Team is large.
50: It’s networking, but already having people that have influence. They’re strong enough to make things happen with their relationships. Put it like this: If you had—
It’s like you’re the Illuminati of—
50: See, when you put “Illuminati” around it, you make it negative. You just fucked it up. [Laughs]
Okay, take that word away.
50: It just turned into some shit.
It’s, like, a group of friends and business associates.
Floyd: Al Haymon is one of the major hitters. Listen, we got everybody. We got every race, every religion.
50: I communicate with Al Haymon, and I’m not a fighter. He has entertainers, he has resources, and he has different things because of Floyd’s relationship. Al Haymon is a big example of how this relationship happens, because Floyd is an important piece to Al Haymon. 50 Cent isn’t very important.
Floyd: Yes, you are. Nah, you’re very important. ’Cause you do what Al started—how he started off .
50: He’s aware of my business, and he’s knowledgeable in it, but he operating now with Floyd as a business partner. Put it like this: Floyd is his primary person. He has other fighters, and they got other stuff going on.
Floyd: But Al Haymon is a little different.
So The Money Team enables channels for its members to have business relationships and other relationships with other people who they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get together with—if you didn’t introduce each other through these avenues—right?
Floyd: So one time he called me and said, “Floyd, listen, I got this film. Put this amount of money up. Even though I got the money, you my dog, you my dude, I want you to make money off this, too.”
50: Because I know I got solid returns already. So if I got an investment, you know you’re gonna make the money off it. I’m going to get this by this time. I know what date the money is going to be there. I’ma say, “Yo, you put that in so you can make that money right quick.” It’s what I see all the time, but none of them have this skin complexion.
Floyd: Like, right now, I have the biggest deal in sports history. But I haven’t really thrown it out there, like, “This is how much money it is.” I don’t have to go out there and do that and say, “Okay, well, I have the biggest deal in sports history.” Well, do I? Yes, I do have the biggest deal in sports history. And I’m in a comfortable position. Do I like sharing the wealth with the ones that I love? Absolutely.
It sounds like you’re into helping them make it themselves, too.
Floyd: What I’m happy with is things like this: When I met my driver, he was out here in New York, driving for a car service. I said, “Listen, you going to become my driver.” He said, “For real?” I said, “Yes.” But he’s been with me so long, and he made enough money to start buyin’ him a couple cars and have his own car service. Although you working with me, you still have money coming in another way.
50: They gotta grow.
Floyd: That’s what we tell you over here at The Money Team. It’s that story from the beginning, about the fi shing pole. That’s basically what it is with The Money Team.
50: We don’t need fish; we need a pole. If I give you money, you’re going to spend the money.
Floyd: If I give you a fish, you’re going to eat ’em. But if I give you a pole—
50: You’re going to start to consistently feed yourself. Put it like this: If I don’t like the person, I might just give them some money.
Floyd: To get rid of them.
50: Yeah, “Get out of my face.” That’s walking money.
The big thing is that you’re giving people the tools—
50: To continuously get money.
Floyd, what’s it like when 50 comes out to one of your fights, and he’s in the corner, and he comes out with you?
50: It’s crazy, ’cause before the fi ght, I started feelin’ like I was getting ready to have a fight. ’Cause it’s a lot of pressure. Point to your pro athlete, whoever you think is great. Point to your D. Rose, MVP, or your Kobe Bryants of the NBA. We in New York City. We could say Carmelo Anthony. Or your pro football players. The best one you could point to, any other professional athlete, and they can have a bad night. And he can’t. He’s got the toughest job in the world.
Floyd: It’s cool.
50: And they got people around to pick up the slack when they miss eight baskets before they’re warmed up.
You both have a reputation as, like, a “bad guy” in your respective fields. Do you feel like you’ve gotten a bum rap?
50: They don’t promote positive stuff. Negativity travels further and faster than anything positive. And I tell you that openly, from my personal [experience].
Floyd: The same people that’s on TV promoting negativity say, “You know what? It’s time for change.” These are things I don’t understand.
50: They say it’s time for change, but they don’t deny the public what makes them feel better about themselves.
Floyd: Any time you turn on the news, the fi rst story you will hear is something negative. You never hear something positive. It starts off negative, always.
50: They enlighten you in different areas. But all the actual stories is who did something fucked-up yesterday. It makes people feel like they are in a better space, makes them feel better about themselves, when they see someone else in a harder position. If you ask someone you could actually communicate with and vent your feelings with about something that’s actually going on, if this person senses that you keep going back, circling back to that actual area where it’s an uncomfortable area for you, where after you told them that and they just want you to talk about that again, it kinda says that they receiving some type of gratification out of hearing you say that.
But both of you are working on changing your image, making it more positive?
50: I think, moving forward, things are gonna change. I think, because of the initiatives people have taken to only do things that have a positive stigma around it, the general public is gonna have to shift their actual energy. You can look and point and say, “50’s the bad guy,” right? And the bad guy within hip-hop culture—as an actual artist, content, the things that are the aggression in the music—right? And then look around hip-hop culture, and look around R&B music, look around other portions of entertainment, and tell me which one of them are actually making a step toward actually solving real issues.
You mean, making a difference in the community, actually giving back?
50: Right. And doing things like the Street King project. You’re saying your good deeds get slept on because of your reputation.
50: I been putting kids in inner cities and low-income situations through college since my first record took off, through The G-Unity Foundation.
Floyd: And our Floyd Mayweather Foundation been doing the same thing.
Do you get defensive when people just see the bad and talk negative about you two?
50: I do.
Floyd: Hell, yeah. My argument is this: Just name a rapper that done it quicker than my boy, that sold records and shoes and movies and done it all. Everything. Quick. Name a rapper that blew up bigger in a shorter period of time.
But, Floyd, don’t you think the biggest problem is that people don’t know who you are?
50: Exactly. They have no idea who he is. They have a better idea of who I am than Floyd. This is why I’m pushing to write a book about his life. So that they can have an idea about his motivation.
Floyd: I do hear that from my friends always, and my employees, that “People don’t know who you really are.”
50: If you don’t know him and you not in his personal circle or around him, you ain’t hear him make a joke or laughin’ and playin’ around. You ain’t seen me and Floyd away from what we offering.