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GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'

About Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson
At the center of "Get Rich or Die Tryin”' is Curtis "50 Cent” Jackson, the charismatic and groundbreaking hip-hop artist.

Born and raised in Queens and coming of age in the drug scene of the late 1970s, the young, fatherless Curtis was forced into manhood at an early age when his mother became a casualty of the drug game. The rest of the story has become modern folklore: the quick and deliberate ascension as a dealer, the lengthy rap sheet, the long hours perfecting his rhyming craft, the recording deal, and the nine gunshot wounds that nearly took his life. Dropped by his label, Jackson was determined not to let his dream of being a rapper fade away. With the help of his friend Sha Money XL, Jackson released an independent bootleg. The CD caught the ear of Eminem and Dr. Dre, who signed the rapper to a million-dollar record deal in 2002. Hip-hop history was made.

Since then, Jackson has earned widespread acclaim and achieved fantastic success. Earlier this year, he became the first recording artist since the Beatles to have four songs in the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

Indeed, Jackson's plunge into the drug trade started after his mother's death. He went to stay with his grandparents, who did what they could "to keep me in a great space,” says Jackson. "But I didn't feel like I was where I should be at, so I turned to the people that appeared to have it all with no problem. They were people from my mother's life — from when she used to hustle. And they would look out for me, and do things for me,” explains Jackson. "So that's how I got started. They were helping me to provide for myself.”

The birth of Jackson's son probably saved his life. "I had him and my priorities changed,” says Jackson. I had to think about how I would be able to provide for him. He's the reason I went towards music; I couldn't have helped him if I was locked up.

"He represents something fundamental coming out of black culture," observes Sheridan, who initially gained the star's confidence with his knowledge of rap music. "Historically in America,” adds Sheridan, "we had two ways of coming out. One was the Martin Luther King method and one was the Malcolm X method. Both of those doors closed in the late ‘60s, and so the black culture kind of had nowhere to go until it found expression in the least likely place —commercial music.”

"It allowed the kid that lived in Beverly Hills or Burbank to see what was going on in Crenshaw; the kid that lived on 125th Street to see what was going on with the kid that lived in Livingston, New Jersey,” adds Lighty. "It was a safe way to see what was going on in the inner cities. It allowed minorities to express themselves — it was their form of expression.”

"People buy my music for the same reason they buy the newspaper,” says Jackson. "You know there isn't a lot of good in it, but it's the facts. And they want to know what happened.”

In making his acting debut, Jackson handles the challenge with his characteristic confidence.

Still, Jackson notes that Jim Sheridan's advice and guiding hand eased the process: "Jim made sure I was exactly the way I needed to be in the scenes. It was great having someone there that you knew was in your corner.

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