Artists Speak On Their Songs Remade for 50 Cent Is The Future
In the summer of 2002, 50 Cent changed the direction of the game. He dropped his breakout mixtape, 50 Cent Is the Future, successfully jacking other artists's beats and remaking the songs to be his own—sometimes creating a more memorable product than the original. The tape's legacy is layered. First, not only did it solidify Fif as hip-hop's next rising star, but it introduced his G-Unit crew—at the time comprised of Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo—to a massive audience. In addition, it shifted the focus of the mixtape game from DJ-compiled projects to artist-driven discs. For years, others have tried to mimic the model, with attempts at dismantling peers' products for new songs. Following up Monday's video of 50 Cent reminiscing on the tape himself, XXL caught up with many of the artists whose songs were remade, from Prodigy to Raekwon, as well as Sha Money XL, who produced the only two original tracks on the release, to get their reflections on 50 Cent Is the Future. —Jakei Cho (@jaekicho), Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL), Mark Lelinwalla (@XXL_Mark) and Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)
Sha Money XL on 50's "Bad News":
"Bad News" was the first track ever— an original G-Unit track produced by me. It appeared on this—what was it? Some type of underground hip-hop compilation that this guy Lee Skill—some mixtape type thing. That was the first G-Unit record, and shit, man. It was set off. Banks tore it up. Yayo tore it up. 50 gave 'em a ill introduction. And everybody fell in love with the name G-Unit. That song set it off, set the tone, and then the mixtape followed through with 50’s creativity.
It was off this compilation called The Anti-Backpack Movement. I came to Fif like, "I got this huge opportunity, it’s a few stacks." He took the stacks and we made the song and I did the beat. We didn’t have no money to pay nobody, so I was doing beats. My shit was hot. He jumped on my shit and that’s what we did.
Sha Money XL on 50's "U Should Be Here" (remake of "You Should Be Here," by Raphael Saadiq):
His knack to know the Raphael Saadiq "You Should Be Here." That record really stood out; radio started playing it. It upped the awareness on the Raphael single, the original. I had, you know, being in the game, I had to call some people over to get the a capella to it and the instrumentals, so I pasted it together. We created that song. We made [it] where it almost felt like they were together making the song and that was like the first time someone ever did a freestyle to that capacity. Now, it’s known as almost remixes. Now, someone will just take your beat and make it sound so good it feel like a remix. That was like the first sightings of that really happening and going down like that. 50, you gotta give him credit to say that’s what he did. He remixed their songs so good it felt like original remixes and almost better than the original.
"You Should Be Here"
"U Should Be Here"
Sha Money XL on 50's "A Little Bit of Everything U.T.P.":
Juvenile lived on the bus. He would go city-to-city, hood-to-hood. I learned a lot from Juvenile. They pulled up to Queens in the bus. They pulled up to my muthafuckin’ crib, had the bus outside, neighbors trippin’. Whole bunch of niggas jumped off, got in my basement, and recorded that record with 50. I met Buck, and that’s when I was like, "Yo, this nigga is dope." I stayed in touch with him. That’s how I first met Buck and Juvenile. When we got G-Unit Records, I signed him. But that was the first sightings of Buck and that’s when 50 loved him and Juvenile. They made records, and that’s when we started really getting in the south. The real south. And from New Orleans and all that connected with everybody and it kinda just took us to the south early and Fif already had the southern twang in his voice too, so it really—they fucked with that shit.
They came with the beat, the record, the hook, everything, and Fif loved it. And then we recorded verses between it and connected it with theirs—like they had that shit going. They was already recording, and we jumped on it with ‘em. We made that record from what they had.
"A Little Bit of Everything U.T.P."
Just Blaze on 50's "The Banks Workout" (remake of "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)", by Jay-Z, produced by Just Blaze):
"It was mostly Banks on that, I think 50 did the hook. But for me, that was the first time I ever heard of Lloyd Banks and he definitely killed it. I don't remember how many bars he spit but he definitely went in on that one. It was a great way to bring Banks out. It was dope that he picked my beat 'cause it's always cool when somebody spits something worthy over your beat. I'm not really into freestyles too much because most times they're not better than the original stuff, and in this case it wasn't a case of it being better or worse than the original song, but he just spit some really dope rhymes. I was into it, for sure."
"Breath Easy (Lyrical Exercise)"
"The Banks Workout"
Erick Sermon on 50's "Got Me a Bottle" (remake of "Got Me A Model," by R.L. featuring Erick Sermon):
I didn’t even know that song hit New York. It was a song that didn’t blow up. I thought it was a cool record with me and R.L. But 50 Cent, at that time, to be so—he was hot—so for him to pick that record, it must have been an influence. I just never felt the impact of it being big. Maybe because I was in Atlanta at the time. I didn’t know that record got past California. That’s where it was made at and it had kind of blew up from California.
50 Cent was doing remixes for everything at the time. He was touching whatever was hot. It was cool to hear that he did that song. I had no idea he was remaking it, until Hot 97 was rocking it. I was like, “Wow.” The beat was done by Jermaine Dupri, so it was a pretty cool beat and Jermaine was smokin’ hot at the time, too. 50 Cent was smokin’ hot, so for him to choose a record like that—50’s remixes, you know, it sounded good.
"Got Me a Model"
"Got Me a Bottle"
Raekwon on "G-Unit That's What's Up" (remake of "Y'all Been Warned," by Wu-Tang Clan):
He came in and did a great job on what he was tryna accomplish. He was definitely a gritty, street, New York cat, and I think he had the proper cadence and the proper delivery on what he was bringing to the table.
Just to see where he came from, within a 10-year period of time, you gotta take your Yankee hat off for that and salute him.
Anybody in the world will tell you that Wu-Tang, we kind of pioneered the whole thought of bringing your whole team to the table and really putting everybody in proper position, as far as being a greater artist. So for me to see that a lot of people pay homage to that—I read shit, I look at papers, it make me feel good to know that we was a part of that movement that created a whole movement for a lot of dudes in the game. So all I can do is say salute.
"Y'all Been Warned"
"G-Unit That's What's Up"
Hi-Tek on 50's "Surrounded by Hoes" (remake of "Round and Round," by Hi-Tek featuring Jonell):
At the time, I was familiar with 50 Cent and I knew he was a controversial artist. When I heard Eminem had signed him, I knew it was gon’ be some shit. I was a little late on the mixtape, though. People were telling me like, “Yo, 50 rappin’ on your beat.” And then, also, as a matter of fact, he gave me a little shout out—a little shout out slash a little stab, a little bit, to me and Kweli 'cause we rapped on “The Blast,” if I’m not mistaken. I forgot what he said. He was just saying he wasn’t me or Kweli. It wasn’t no diss, but he was just, you know and I took it as a compliment and respect musically 'cause I felt like 50, melodically, he love those same type of beats that I make.
That’s how I feel like we ended up working in the future, because it was like our styles complimented each other. He liked the melodic, hard melodic beats and that’s just exactly what I did with the “Round and Round” beat and “The Blast.” Like I said, I was a little late at the time. I really wasn’t big on listening to mixtapes like that. I listened to mixtapes back in the day like Doo Wop and Rob G and Kid Capri and all of them, Tony Touch. But a little later, I really wasn’t into like that, but people told me that he had rocked on the beat and man, I was hype. And we actually got a chance to get on stage with him one time when he was doing his promo run for Get Rich or Die Tryin’. He came to Cincinnati and he performed the joint. He performed both the joints, actually.
"Round and Round"
"Surrounded By Hoes"
Tweet on 50's "Call Me" (remake of "Call Me," by Tweet)
I loved it. The other day, I was at someone’s birthday party out here and they played a version of “Turn the Lights Off” that he did that was really hot. I had never heard that one. But, yeah, I love it when 50 does his thing. I was just excited. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Somebody just takes your song without you having to ask them and, you know, does their own little thing to it. I was very excited.
I met 50 a couple of times. We both were managed by Violator; so, yeah I met 50 a couple times. We never talked about the song, though. Not at all. I didn’t mind at all, you know. That’s 50 Cent. Why would I mind? I had no problem with that, at all. I was just, you know, excited that anybody. Again, this is my first time out too, you know what I mean? So I was excited.
"Call Me" (Tweet)
"Call Me" (50 Cent)
Prodigy on 50's Multiple Mobb Deep Remakes ("Bump Dat," "Crawlin'," "Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines)," and "Losin' Weight," by Cam'ron featuring Prodigy):
That was the shit right there. That’s when niggas knew he was gon’ blow. We was ahead of the game with that. When that mixtape came out, me and Hav reached out to 50, and we started working together. We did a song called “Bump That,” and we put it on the Murda Muzik the movie soundtrack, and it’s also playing in the movie. And, we did another song called “Pop Those Thangs,” and he was all around that time when he dropped those mixtapes. We already knew that he was about to pop, so right after we did those songs together then he signed to Aftermath. Then he did the G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath shit and then he blew up crazy. And then after he blew up, he pulled us back; he was like, “Come on.” And pulled us in with him. “Bump Dat.” That’s the song that we did with him. When he did it on the mixtape. They just took our verses off and used 50’s verse. Yeah, I mean all of that was like calculated, that’s the song we actually did with him. That’s dope, man, that he liked our music and respect our music like that, and he’s willing to work with niggas. I’m sure he felt the same way. It’s just love. We all from Queens. We got friends in common in the streets. So, it was just meant to be.