50 Cent Talks Robert De Niro, Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo, Boxing Promotion & Kanye West’s “Perfect Bitch”
It's unbelievable to think that 50 Cent dropped his undeniable classic album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', nearly 10 years ago. Nearly a decade later and 'Fif [more than] got rich...but he's still tryin'. Still tryin' to make hits, still tryin' to improve his acting and still tryin' to make more money. The G-Unit general stars alongside Robert De Niro—for the second time—in the upcoming drama thriller, Freelancers, which opens in New York City and Los Angeles on Friday (August 10) and is available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 21. Adding to that is the fact that 50 is trying his hand at boxing promotion with the newly-formed The Money Team promotions, alongside his best friend Floyd Mayweather. Still, 'Fif hasn't forgotten about the music, as he preps for the November 13 release date of his upcoming album, Street King Immortal. Here, 50 talks to XXL about Freelancers, his friendship with De Niro, how he plans on changing boxing, why Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo dropping mixtapes isn't enough, and his thoughts on Kanye West penning "Perfect Bitch" for Kim Kardashian. —Mark Lelinwalla
In Freelancers, you play a cop. Ice-T talked about portraying a cop and coming from the background he did. How was it playing a police officer?
It was exciting. It's a challenge, but you understand the spectrum, both sides of the coin. I went to the firing range with New York City police officers just to see what the exact procedure would be to fire the actual weapons and what their protocol is. I went with Robert De Niro. We had worked together on the Righteous Kill project, so it had come full circle when we worked together on Freelancers.
What was it like working with De Niro the second time around and do y' all hang out, chill now?
Yeah, yeah...if you remember, on that project [Righteous Kill], I got him to do the cover of Vibe. You don't really see him doing press like that. We got a chance to talk about things away from the actual entertainment stuff. Now, I developed the kind of relationship with him where I can call him and see if he's interested in some of these projects.
What did you pick up from working with De Niro this time around?
I had a lot more scenes in this project. I had a lot more scenes in this project than I did in Righteous Kill with him. What I picked up is how often he makes changes. Him and Forest [Whitaker] are the same. You get in there and you see so many different variations of the scene. Almost every take is different. It's the same information, but [De Niro] starts from a different place and we got a lot of interesting moments like that. To work with two different Academy Award winners is an honor.
Switching gears a little bit, your man Floyd 'Money' Mayweather is out of jail. We reported about you getting at Oscar De La Hoya on Twitter last week. Are the days of Golden Boy Promotions promoting Mayweather's fights over now? Are you and the Money Team promoting Floyd here on out?
Well, TMT is a promotional company and it's actually Floyd's idea for me to be involved. He asked me to do those things, so it could be more comfortable, so I could do more things in-house. I had a chance to bring over some great talent. We got Andre Dirrell, [Yuriorkis] Gamboa, Celestino Caballero, Billy Dib. We're working with Zab [Judah].
It feels like you've been a promoter within the rap game for years with your marketing and showmanship. What will you bring to boxing as a promoter?
What boxing needs is a younger demographic. Right now, Dana [White] and them, as far as the UFC is concerned, 56% of the audience is from 18-34 and boxing is 30 and up. To bring a more youthful draw to it and provide a showmanship to the actual bouts maybe allow some of the actual theatrics that you see alongside of the WWE. Merge music culture with boxing and pop culture, period. Moms been taking kids to karate class forever. When those disciplines, as far as boxing goes, starts getting implemented in earlier stages, you'll find a more youthful interest. Cards that are strong with 36 minutes of entertainment have to be developed into 70 minutes. That's it.
We seen the picture with you, Mike Tyson, Kanye West, Spike Lee and even Bryant Gumbel together following Iron Mike's one-man Broadway show, Undisputed Truth. Can you let us in on how that conversation between y'all went?
There weren't too many words being said, just, "What's up? You enjoyed the show?" That's it. It ain't nothin' more than that.
[Yesterday, August 7], Kanye took to his Twitter to announce that he wrote the song "Perfect Bitch" about Kim Kardashian. What do you think?
I mean...if that man feel like she perfect, then she's perfect. He could mean it and you'll end up singing the words to it because he's Kanye. You know how it is? One man's trash is another man's treasure.
Is there such a thing as a perfect chick in your eyes?
I'm not sure. The smartest guys I know have lost being a bad judge of character in that area.
Switching gears again, this time to the music, how does it work out where you and Alicia Keys both have singles called "New Day" in such close proximity and your version has the same instrumental and her same hook as her earlier release?
The actual track was produced originally for [Dr. Dre's album] Detox. I was actually recording with Dre for his record and when he played it, it had a chorus that was a little darker. When he sent it to her, Alicia sent it back with "New Day" and it had additional strings on it. He wasn't sure that he wanted to use it because of creatively where he was at on his project. I was like, "I can use that" because it would be the bright side of what I'm offering in my body of work. He was like, "Okay, take it then." Obviously, it was a hit. They're sitting on it and after a while, she recorded additional verses and leaked the record.
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With your upcoming album, Street King Immortal, what are some collaborations that might throw people for a loop?
I can't offer what collaborations I'll be actually having, but I want to say is the actual project itself was the longest body of work I had an opportunity to work on besides Get Rich or Die Tryin'. It feels like the first step is working real well as far as "New Day" is concerned. As far as what's next, they're gonna see what I have next. I'm not gonna wait a long time. You're gonna hear new stuff from me.
Can you shed light on what that next single's gonna be or can you not let that out the bag?
[Laughs] I can't let that out the bag.
Just last month you were very critical of Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, saying they need to "Get themselves together." Since that time they each dropped a mixtape, Banks with V6 and Yayo with Sex, Drugs & Hip-Hop. Have y'all talked?
I actually haven't spoke to 'em very much. I'm to fault for that, though. I think I disabled them.
What do you mean by that?
I did so much for them that they don't have a continuous work ethic. They got both of those tapes out there, but did you see any visuals? Anything? There's certain things that the new guy is doing to create momentum or energy. They just sit there and wait. When someone works for you, you have the habit of dealing with things by not dealing with them. You may get in the regimen of coming over and doing it for them.
By them not dropping videos to accompany their mixtape tracks, what does it tell you?
Dropping mixtapes...that was my '02 strategy. That's 2002 marketing. That's old. You did nothing if you did that. Look what I've done with The Lost Tape or The Big 10. There's videos for everything that was on the tapes. If you're going to just wing it and drop a mixtape...pick the highlights that people like most and shoot 'em. Go shoot the video.
On Monday (August 6), Young Buck turned himself in to begin his 18-month prison sentence on weapon charges. In an interview with XXL, he said he's still up for a conversation with you. What are your thoughts on his sentence and possible conversation?
I think it's unfortunate. I don't wish that on nobody, having to sit in the joint. But I don't know how to respond in a nice way to blatant disrespect that was offered. I'm the kind of person that I don't let go of things easy, I'll be honest with you. If I'm the driving force behind why the situation is what it is, I'll accept it. But when I can't see what I've done to offer it, then I think that was just a plan that didn't go right. If it went the way they wanted it to, there would still be no white flag. That goes across the board...even with my personal relationships with women. It's always people looking for what they want out of it.
How do you feel about newer MCs throwing around the phrase "classic," when talking about their album? Back in the day, that was something that the public would decide.
Well, what rules are we following by? There was a period, where how many mics you got in The Source meant something or if you got the extra, extra large in XXL. The Top MCs for MTV and them doing that...these different things kinda make people lose interest in where they're being placed publicly. If the person judging you doesn't even write music, that's pretty odd for them to place where you are. The person they're saying is "he's cool, but..." is selling records, while the person that they're saying is "lyrical" ain't selling shit. When you say classic, it's music that's going to mark time. Those hit records, you can't deny them. They're going to be back. Things trend in hip-hop and there's cycles. Before 50 Cent, there was DMX that had that kind of aggressive energy. Then, you had Ja [Rule] and Nelly and a lot of the lighthearted music became big. They had big songs, but they didn't have the same aggression you'd face in the environments that we come out of. That hipster vibe, like the black hippies, where everyone wanna get high and have fun...it will turn around. I don't follow the trend of what they're doing. Get Rich or Die Tryin' stood apart and it was that thing they gravitated to and it worked with intensity. I feel like this album I'm getting ready to launch can do the same thing.