As two of hip-hop’s most controversial figures, 50 CENT and SOULJA BOY are experts at riling folks up. So what happens when you put the two together? There’s some real stuntin’ and mean muggin’ goin’ on.
Interview by Rondell Conway & Matt Barone
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of XXL Magazine .


50, who was a newbie to the uber-popular social-networking tool, had been tweeting about sexy ladies and getting head, but when he saw a Twitter beef pop off between Soulja Boy and Fabolous, the Queens MC had to jump in the ring. “For the last time I’m telling you niggas leave my nigga alone. Hollow tips a make you spit more then a hot 16,” came another one of 50’s tweets, at 9:31 p.m. Then, “I get all you niggas killed fuck that. I dare you niggas to touch him. Soulja say whatever you want. Niggas aint gon do shit” came another one seven minutes later.

50 Cent clearly has Soulja Boy’s back. The two hip-hop stars and Interscope labelmates are buddies, even though they have a 15-year age difference. And despite SB’s softer, teenybopper rap persona and Fif ’s shoot-’em-up street energy, the two artists actually have more in common than most heads would think. At first glance, it’s safe to assume otherwise, especially when taking note of their separate arrivals to Fast Ashley’s photo studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on a cool mid-September evening. Whereas Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his three-man entourage made their entrance in virtual silence, DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Way and his small army of S.O.D.M.G. (Stacks On Deck Money Gang) soldiers made theirs about as discreetly as the Grambling State University marching band at homecoming. Chalk that contrast up to age and experience. Most rapper entourages shrink as the years go on, so at 35 years old, and with seven years in the game, Fif ’s figured out how to travel light. At 20, and only three years of work put in, SB still rolls crew deep.

Upon further review of the two, however, you’ll see that striking similarities exist in both their personalities and their careers. It starts with their lively personas, making for good chemistry, as evidenced on their rowdy single “Mean Mug” from SB’s new LP. Both multiplatinum artists have delivered chart-topping hits for Interscope Records, and while they’ve each tasted early success, Fif and SB know what it’s like to be the black sheep in hip-hop. The Internet and its haters love to toss shade on the two rhyme slingers, despite their proven track records.

Add that to the genuine admiration the two have for one another and you have one of hip-hop’s most surprising friendships. It’s a kinship that began when the two met at BET’s 106 & Park studio back in June 2008, shortly after Soulja came on the scene. Since then, Fif has been a loyal protector of his lil’ buddy, standing up for dude against attacks from
rap veterans like Ice-T and GZA and, most recently, @MyFabolousLife. The beef quickly subsided. Soon after, Fif and SB dropped their joint “Mean Mug.” With their much-talked-about collaboration showcasing their already tight bond on a musical level, @50Cent and @SouljaBoy sat down with @XXL to discuss their respective roles in hip-hop. Tweet ’em (and us) if you disagree.

50, it seems like you’ve really respected Soulja Boy’s grind from the start of his career.
50 CENT: I was always excited about the idea of being 16 years old and having a hit record. I know that changes the house that I’ma go into. It changes Christmas. Everything just changes. If I had the wish to be another artist, just for right now, it would be Soulja Boy. He made it himself. He made the song, the track, what he said hisself. You can’t ask for more. There’s a huge community of artists out there that work every day, in the studio every night, they were there last night, the night before, and they don’t have the same hit records. So they’ll actually point to the artists, and they’re critics. They judge each other. A lot of the hate, when you look at comments on new material, it’s from someone who actually wants to be in the position. Because they write and they’re creatively going in a different direction, they think the direction you’re going in is wrong. Because I sustained myself over a longer time period, I’ve grown accustomed to it.

Soulja, how much did 50 Cent inspire you as an artist, coming into the business?
SOULJA BOY: Yeah, man, before I got into the actual music business, when I was an unsigned artist, underground, and I was only on MySpace and stuff like that—even before that I used to always watch 50, with everything he was doing, as far as the music and the business. When you look at G-Unit and you look at S.O.D.M.G., really how they treat Soulja, that’s how they treat 50. So growing up watching the music videos, the albums that was being put out, the video games, all the different business moves, once I broke into the music industry, I started to hustle and drew my career on that path. I was just tryna walk in those footsteps, and it got me this far, to where I’m actually working side by side with an artist I was watching.

Was there any particular event in 50’s career that had a profound effect on you?
SOULJA BOY: Being Black, with money, from the hood, struggles, and coming from nothing to something, of course you’re going to share the common struggles. You going to have people hate. You going to have people that change on you, and all that. So of course, watching 50, and him going through what he did—if there wasn’t no 50 Cent, there would be no Soulja Boy. You know what I mean?

How much do you appreciate 50 having your back when other artists come at you?
SOULJA BOY: When the situation happened [with Fabolous] and 50 had my back, it was just me being glad. When I first got in the music business, I was 17 years old, and I had the situation with a rapper. [Editor’s note: Soulja Boy is talking about Ice-T.] At that point, I was kind of, like, down and out, because I was like, Man, I don’t want these older rappers thinking that I’m doing something wrong. So when [50] came and he was like, “Nah, nah, you cool with what you doing,” I felt better after that, because I was like, At least my favorite rapper is saying I’m good, and this rapper right here is just hating.

50 CENT: For an artist, just being human, you say, “I wish I could’ve had that at 16. I would’ve been so much different. I would’ve been a different person if I didn’t have to struggle all of that time. If I had an opportunity to make music, to make a better life for myself at 16, I would’ve did that.” And he’s getting better. At the end, there’s no telling—at the rate he is going now, I hate to say it and have people create reasons for doubt, but at the rate that he’s going now, he’s going to be one of those artists to look at and go, Wow, he is amazing. Like a Busta Rhymes—Leaders of the New School since he was, what, 15? Like, still, performancewise, I think Busta will tear you apart onstage right now. I look at that just being seasoned and being around.

And I can still respect things I see from other artists and appreciate their talents in different ways. I just look at Soulja and be like, How could you not like it? Just think about it from a regular person’s perspective. How could you not like the idea of someone making a... He’s making more money than an adult. He’s making more money than guys that say they’re good. I know this personally. And I am 100 percent sure of that. I made a deal for him quietly. So I’m sure he has more money than the guy that you think is cool, that’s saying something about how he stunting, or “I’m doing this,” or... No, you are not. You don’t even have the money to do it. I don’t like to rub it in your face, because I think we all just trying to make it. It’s just that it’s jealousy. It’s the selfish nature of some people.

Soulja, did you analyze as deeply as 50 did to try to figure out why veteran rappers were dissing you? Like, when Ice-T came at you.
SOULJA BOY: I just felt like they were hating on me. I felt like I gotta keep doing me, because I knew firsthand—I was out there on the road, I was in them streets, I was doing them shows before I got signed. I seen thousands and thousands of people singing my songs word for word, without me being on TV or radio. [Ice-T] ain’t see none of that. I knew that I was good, so I just felt like he was hating on me, ’cause I knew I was doing my thing.

50 CENT: You know what made me notice that Soulja had quickly arrived? I saw Obama’s kids say that’s their favorite rapper.

SOULJA BOY: I saw that too. [Laughs]

50 CENT: When you look at that, you go, Okay, Soulja, you got basketball players doing the dance. You see how what he came up with launched a lot of people? And he saw dozens of new artists attempt the same thing and fail? So how you think you special if they doing the same thing and it’s not connecting? It’s a reason.

Soulja Boy recently had a run-in with Fabolous on Twitter, and you came to his defense again.
50 CENT: That actually defines something more than this situation for me. With Soulja and Fabolous, it made me understand Baby and Wayne’s relationship, because when Wayne has a relationship with Baby where he’s his father—Soulja Boy could be [Fabolous’s] son. I think people forget that, and when you’re going back and forth with him, I don’t know if they actually—if the other idiot that’s around him doesn’t know that they not supposed to put their hands on Soulja Boy. You know what I’m saying? And they go and try to do things for rep, like a lot of the stuff that happen.

Like, the girl Kat Stacks got smacked all in her head. That’s people who wanna impress other people, who she’s talking about. So in the event that something like that would happen, I don’t want that to happen, so I prevent it. That’s why I said what I said in the language that an idiot understands: “I’ll kill all you niggas if you fuck with my little nigga.”

How did you feel about 50 saying that in your defense, in that situation?
SOULJA BOY: For me, it’s an accomplishment. I been working so hard
to get to this point. Now you look at me: 20 years old, I got 50 co-signing me. I feel like I been putting in this work, and it’s actually showing. It’s right in front of my face. I know it, ’cause I’m getting phone calls from Diddy. I’m getting phone calls from Kanye. “What you doing, man? Come to the studio. Ah, man, give me some beats. Ah, man, give me a song.” I’m thinking how far I came, and it’s all making sense.

50 CENT: And it’s following “Mean Mug.” Those phone calls come after, because they’re not sure if they should actually embrace it, until they see that and they go, Okay, that’s where he’s going? They hear the record, the music—Kanye is completely a music fan. All this happens when you actually allow yourself to be an artist. 

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