Kanye West may slam the man, but our interviewer develops a man crush on 50 Cent
By Ben Westhoff
There’s no reason to fear 50 Cent, right? That’s what I tell myself while heading towards Manhattan’s Flatiron District for a one-on-one interview with the much-shot gangster emcee. The guy has no beef with me, and besides, he hangs out with people like Dustin Hoffman and Justin Timberlake, perhaps the two-unscariest guys in the universe.
So why -- as I wait to be buzzed in behind G-Unit Clothing headquarters’ wall of bulletproof glass -- am I shaking?
The man himself is running a little late, so I take a seat in the company lobby, which is decorated with a faux-library of gold painted books and a bigger-than-life poster of 50, staring down at me. (Great.) His publicist hands me a can of the new Vitamin Water energy drink and allows me to explore the premises. Designers in cubicles are flanked by rows of topless, ebony models and racks of gaudy black and fluorescent green fashions. I’m told they move $60 million a year of this stuff in the U.S., third only to Diddy’s Sean John and Jay-Z’s Rocawear among urban lines.
Minutes before liftoff, I’m escorted into 50’s office, which is actually a bit more like a lounge. Black leather furniture is surrounded by a blue pool table, stocked bar (the Hypnotiq is empty but the Patron is full), and a framed picture of 50 and JT. Below his flat screen Panasonic are David LaChapelle and Playboy bunny books, as well as a DVD collection which includes Borat, Rocky, Snatch, and Full Metal Jacket, among others. There’s also a recording booth, small gym and chrome-heavy bathroom, which really looks like it belongs in a prison….
“How ya doing?” he says suddenly, having entered silently and now sticking out his hand. “Isn’t it freezing in here?”
We retreat to the lobby, where he grabs a slice of somebody’s pizza and tells me to hold on for a second. In a tilted white Yankees cap, blue t-shirt and white Reeboks, he looks shorter -- but just as thick -- as I’d imagined. With awe I note the bullet scar on his left cheek, and then, just below it….A giant crumb dangling from his chin.
An assistant dislodges it with a napkin, but, suddenly, Fiddy is just another man to me. Maybe it’s the Vitamin Water talking, but as we sit down for the interview, I feel ballsy.
“Do you ever worry that you’ll become as crazy as uber-superstars like Michael Jackson or Prince?” I ask him, after getting some compulsory, Curtis-related questions out of the way.
“I don’t think I’ll go crazy,” he says. “But, then again, crazy people don’t think they’re crazy.”
I ask him what he thinks about Russell Simmons’s idea for rappers to censor themselves. “I think he displayed to everyone that he aspires to pursue politics,” he says, adding: “One of these days, you’ll see him running [for governor]. I’ma vote for him, too.”
Later, I ask who he supports for president. “Hillary,” he says. “I like the fact that she didn’t leave Bill, under those circumstances.”
Not Barack? “Why, ‘cause he’s black?” he says, and laughs. (With me, not at me, mind you.)
Like his inflated lats, our bond continues to gain strength. Once, he brushes my knee with his when laughing, and later even begins showing off for my benefit. With his lackeys talking quietly in the other room, he yells for them to keep it down. They immediately go silent, and he winks at me.
Perhaps he’s just drunk on his own power. At one point, he accosts a G-Unit Clothing employee walking by with a greasy bag. “Is that food?” 50 asks.
“Yeah,” responds the guy wearily, resigned to the inevitable. “You want some fries?”
Fif takes the entire tub of fries, of course.
50 is the world’s perfect interview subject, because he’s A) super-famous and B) completely off the cuff. Barely prompted, he disses Fat Joe -- “He’s not generating any interest in the music he’s releasing” – and Koch Records “I call [it] the graveyard. Because that’s when the majors no longer feel like you’re a safe investment.”
We share a laugh at Lil Wayne’s expense, about the photo of him kissing Baby, his Cash Money Records affiliate and father figure. “I think it’s odd for a man to kiss another man on his mouth, even though it isn’t his biological father. For the father/son relationship, I think that’s a bit much,” he says, adding: “Does your father still kiss you on the mouth?”
“I don’t think he ever did,” I say, before deciding to push the issue a bit. “So, do you have any close friends who are gay?”
“No,” he says. “Not that I know of.”
What would happen if a chart-topping rapper came out as gay?
“It depends on what kind of music he was making,” 50 says thoughtfully. “Kanye West could come out and people would be like ‘You didn’t notice how he dressed?’ Not to disrespect Kanye – because Kanye says he’s not like that.”
I can’t help laughing. I know it’s homophobic and I love Kanye, but 50 and I are having a moment here (and of course, everybody's been talking about whose new album is better in the Kanye West/50 Cent feud, so this bit of discourse is doubly delightful).
All in all, he answers considerably more than 21 of my questions, making eye contact like a motherfucker the whole time. As I finish, his publicist anxiously tries to pull him away for a photo shoot. But before being shuffled off, he very deliberately turns around and waves good-bye to me.
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Not to get too sentimental, but I think I’ve got myself a man crush here.
Will 50 Cent keep his word and retire if Kanye West's Graduation continues to outsell Fiddy's Curtis? We can only hope not. (Official photo courtesy of 50Cent.com.)