While it was Jay Z who famously rapped, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man,” the lyric is certainly not exclusive to just him. From Russell Simmons to Sean “Diddy” Combs and many others, Hip-Hop has come a long way solely on the strength of entrepreneurial spirits. Additionally, music alone is obviously not generating revenue like it used to and so rap artists are constantly looking to find new ways of making money. One artist who did that, even while his records were selling in the multi-millions, was Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
And considering his recent departure from Interscope Records, it is now important to acknowledge 50 for the mogul that he is. He is definitely responsible for some hit music, but another thing that factors into his monumental success is his outstanding business acumen.
With the recent release of two new songs leading up to Animal Ambition on June 3, AllHipHop.com has put together a list of 50’s 10 best business moves (in chronological order) - both in and out of the recording studio. It proves that Fif not only got rich instead of died trying, but also that he has the corporate savvy to continue to flourish for a very long time.
10). 50 Cent is the Future (2002): 50 Cent took Ice Cube’s “Jackin’ for Beats” approach and then elevated it to the next level. Instead of just rapping a few bars or a verse over other artists’ instrumentals, he made records. This showcased he could rap over quality production as well as write complete songs. In 2005, the VP of A&R at Shady Records at the time said, “50 Cent used the mix tape circuit - he took all the hottest beats from every artist and flipped them with better hooks.” It hadn’t been done so successfully, and the mix tape game certainly hasn’t been the same since.
09). G-Unit Clothing Company & Reebok Deal (2003): With help from Mark Ecko, the founder of Eckō Unlimited, 50 founded the G-Unit Clothing Company. At one time, Ecko even compared their deal to “Nike and (Michael) Jordan coming together for Air Jordan.” However, in 2008, G-Unit Clothing and Ecko split while 50 was able to retain full ownership of the brand. In 2003, 50 also teamed up with Reebok and put out G-Unit sneakers. According to a tweet from 50 himself in November 2012, he sold over 5 million paris of sneakers and made $80 million dollars during his time with the sports apparel and accessories company.
08). Beg for Mercy (2003): After the blockbuster success of his Shady / Aftermath debut, a follow-up from 50 Cent was in high demand. However, instead of doing that, he opted to release a proper G-Unit album first. Even though none of the other G-Unit soldiers had the star power 50 welded, the positioning and success of G Unit’s Beg For Mercy helped everyone else in the group. Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, and Tony Yayo eventually brought back plaques for their solo work and ultimately added to the G-Unit movement.
07). Formula 50 (2004): “I took quarter water, sold it in bottles for 2 bucks / And Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions, what the f**k?” According to The Washington Post, 50’s then manager, Chris Lighty (R.I.P.), had a business acquaintance named Rohan Oza who worked for a beverage company called Glaceau which made Vitaminwater. And after Oza saw 50 drinking Vitaminwater in a Reebok shoes commercial, Lighty and Oza came up with the idea of using 50 Cent as the spokesperson for a new Vitaminwater flavor called Formula 50 because it contained 50 percent of the recommended RDA (recommended daily/ dietary allowance) of seven different vitamins and minerals. But rather than a conventional endorsement deal, 50 wanted to invest and he did. Then in the spring of 2007, Coca-Cola bought Glaceau for $4.1 billion - a company which 50 had a 10% share. After all other costs were deducted, the report that 50 received $400 million really turned out to be between $60 and $100 million. Still not to shabby for a former drug dealer from South Jamaica, Queens.
06). Thisis50.com (2007): In 2007, 50 Cent and Chris “Broadway” Romero launched Thisis50.com. It is a site with original content as well as, among other things, news, mixtape downloads, and videos. According to the site itself, “Each month, THISIS50 reaches over 3 million unique visitors who look at nearly 20 million pages of content.”
05). Cheetah Vision (2009): While it’s not uncommon for rappers to star in movies, Mr. Jackson is unique in that he founded two film production companies -G-Unit Films in ‘03 and Cheetah Vision in ’09. While G-Unit Films would eventually fold, Cheetah Vision was more prosperous and even landed a $200 million deal which would be used to fund a 10 picture agreement. In addition to it being a vehicle for 50 to expand his acting resume, Cheetah Vision has also gotten notable and well-established acting talents such as Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, and Rosario Dawson to star in their films as well.
04). SMS Audio (2011): 50 founded SMS Audio and, within the same year, bought out KonAudio with the intention of rebranding KonAudio using his name and star power. Over that last few years, the company has continued to consistently put new headphones in the marketplace. This past January, SMS Audio introduced a Carmelo Anthony signature line and Star Wars themed headphones as part of a collaboration with Lucasfilm.
03). Street King (2011): After a trip to Africa, 50 Cent partnered with Pure Growth Partners and launched an energy drink, Street King, with the goal that proceeds from those sales would be used to feed a billion kids in Africa by 2016. “50 Cent and I share a common vision,” Chris Clark expressed, founder and CEO of Pure Growth Partners, “To address the world’s growing problems through smart and sustainable business models.”
02). Boxing Promotion (2012): When 50 first ventured into the boxing business, he became a licensed promoter and created TMT Promotions with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. However, after a few months, Floyd and 50 parted ways and 50 formed a new company, SMS Promotions, without Mayweather’s assistance. Perhaps most notably, SMS Promotions signed junior middleweight James Kirkland in October 2013 after he had been out of action since March of the previous year due to legal issues and a lawsuit with his last promoter.
1). Swan Racing (2014): Just recently, 50 got involved with NASCAR when his SMS audio line became an associate sponsor of Sprint Cup Series team, Swan Racing. “Swan Racing and its up-and-coming drivers are the perfect match for SMS Audio," Fif announced in a statement. "They are as passionate for the sport of racing as we are for our audio products, and we're confident that the music-loving NASCAR fan base is going to enjoy our headphones."
What do you think of 50 as a mogul? What do you think is his best business move? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!