A significant portion of 50 Cent’s success has been tied to his ability to engage his foes in and ultimately survive beef. After moderate exposure under the tutelage of the late Jam Master Jay, 50 Cent flirted with fame. But his biggest look, prior to Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, was the song “How To Rob,” where he took subliminal and overt shots at dozens of popular rappers. The responses served as free promotion, and 50 subsequently increased his buzz by releasing a flurry of what he would later refer to as “aggressive content” via the mixtape circuit.
Some 14 years later, things are a bit calmer. June 3, 2014 marks the release of 50 Cent’s fifth official retail album Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win. Having instigated, survived and arguably thrived against various conflicts with fellow emcees, record label executives and even convicted crime kingpins, it’s a good a time as any to look back on 50 Cent’s track record.
50 Cent vs. Ja Rule
It’s almost unfair for the beef between Ja Rule and 50 Cent to be classified along with other music industry conflicts. By all accounts, this was a real life feud between two camps that generally hated each other’s guts. Prior to the diss records, 50 and Ja got physical on multiple occasions. The back and forth songs were merely the byproduct of disputes that had already taken place in the streets.
“A friend of mine robbed Ja Rule,” 50 recounted in his biography From Pieces To Weight. “That’s how the beef originally started. My man robbed him for a chain, and then this guy named Brown came and got the chain back for Ja. Later, Ja saw me in a club with the kid who robbed him. I went over to say, ‘What’s up’ to Ja, and he acted like he had a problem with me. But I’m not the one who robbed him.”
After repeated run-ins with Ja, 50 recorded “Your Life’s On The Line” around 2000. He and Ja ended up together on a bill during a show in Atlanta, and they eventually fought in an adjacent hotel parking lot. Things later escalated back in NYC, when Ja Rule paid 50 a violent visit during 50’s recording session at the Hit Factory. Over the course of several years, the pair exchanged punches, knife pokes, yapped chains and several diss records including “Wanksta,” “Clap Back” and “Hail Mary.” In 2011, prior to serving a two-year prison sentence stemming from a previous weapon possession charge, Ja told MTV’s Sway Calloway he was done beefing. 50 confirmed the truce, and Ja would later send out a tweet saying the pair sat near each other on a transcontinental flight with no issues. But as so many rappers have proven in past years, all bets are off when it comes to the infamous Summer Jam screen.
50 Cent vs. Jimmy Iovine
By 50 Cent’s own admission, there was a point in time when he had a great relationship with former Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine. But over the years, things quickly turned sour, and it’s hard to imagine 50’s 2011 threat to leak Dr. Dre’s next single helped matters.
Man I’m not releasing a album i can’t believe interscope is this f*cked up right now. I apologize to all my fans.
— 50cent (@50cent) July 27, 2011
I LOVE DRE but I’m putting his next single psycho out tomorrow at 2:00 #SK
— 50cent (@50cent) July 27, 2011
Your gonna love it its a big song I just don’t think it deserves a great set up sense they can’t seem to get it right when it comes to me.
— 50cent (@50cent) July 27, 2011
During his tenure on Interscope, 50 repeatedly lashed out at the label for what he felt were botched promotional opportunities related to his fifth Interscope album, Street King Immortal.
“Just get me off the actual label before the shit goes bad, because I’m not getting the actual response I want out of the material that I’m releasing with them, and it’s to the point that I’m not even trying to put the right thing out,” 50 told Power 99’s Cosmic Kev in April 2014.
Aside from an inability to continue making Top 10 singles, 50 says Iovine viewed his partnership with SMS Audio as a major sticking point.
“We had communication with each other, and he expressed that he didn’t like me,” 50 explained to Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex. “It stems from his passion for Beats [Electronics]… Steve Berman—at points when we communicated with each other—he’d say, ‘Youre competition.’ He’d get excited and say, ‘You created a competitive company; you’re the competition.’”
Ultimately, 50 entered into a distribution pact with Capitol and Iovine left Interscope after Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion in May.
50 Cent vs. Fat Joe
Given its seemingly simple origins, the length of the conflict between Fif and “Don Cartagena” was rather surprising. While 50 was arguably at the height of his popularity in 2004, Fat Joe joined Jadakiss on Ja Rule’s single “New York.” The unstated transitive property of Rap beef dictated 50 throw verbal shade at both Joe and Jada (more on that later), and Joe became a target on “Piggy Bank” and several of 50’s viral disses. In addition to calling Joe’s hit single “Lean Back” a dud, 50 repeatedly needled him about his sales and weight.
Never one to back down, Joe retaliated with the track “Fuck 50” (later retitled as “My Fo-fo”) and an undeniable verbal shot onstage at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, saying, “I feel safe with all the police protection, courtesy of G-Unit.”
The end of the 50 Cent/Fat Joe feud was arguably the only silver lining associated with the 2012 death of Chris Lighty—who managed both 50 and Joe. During the 2012 BET Awards, 50 and Fat Joe performed together alongside fellow Lighty clients A Tribe Called Quest, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes.
“The same guy who discovered him, discovered me—Chris Lighty ,” Fat Joe told Hot 107.9’s DJ Q Deezy during an interview October 2012 interview. “He always wanted me and 50 Cent to make peace forever, but we were just being stubborn and ignoring him.”
50 Cent vs. Cam’ron
The minor tift between Cam and Fif pretty much includes all the necessary ingredients for a 50 Cent beef. Things began with 50’s usual “no fucks given” attitude, as he brazenly called Koch Entertainment (now E-One Entertainment) a graveyard and said he had the ability to shut down any Koch project. As one would imagine, Koch’s then general manager, Alan Grunblatt, took umbrage at the claims and decided to call Hot 97 on February 1, 2007 while Angie Martinez was interviewing 50. Fif quickly barked on Grunblatt and asked to speak to Cam, and that’s when all hell broke loose. A cordial exchange quickly went sour, as Cam and Fif argued back and forth over the recent sales of G-Unit artists along with Koch’s value and reputation. An audibly angry Cam’ron peppered 50 with questions punctuated with an exaggerated call of his government name, “Curtis.”
No less than a week later, 50 released the Cam’ron diss track “Funeral Music,” and Cam fired back with “Curtis.” Right when the beef transitioned from mildly interesting to a viral hot mess, Cam seemingly disappeared. He resurfaced in November, exclusively telling Miss Info he temporarily relocated to Florida to care for his mother after she suffered three strokes. In the meantime, 50 brought Juelz Santana and Jim Jones onstage with him to perform “We Fly High,” and Fif mockingly named his next album Curtis.
Chalk this one up to another beef that ended up getting squashed on peaceful terms.
“We had our little hip-hop beef or whatever you wanna call it, but ain’t no problem,” Cam’ron recalled during a 2011 appearance on MTV’s RapFix Live. “Jim and Juelz do stuff with 50 and they camp all the time. I don’t have a problem with 50 at all. It is what it is. We had our little discrepancy, and we moved on from it.”
50 Cent vs. Nas
These two Queens emcees (50 reps Jamainca, while Nas is a product of Queensbridge) have gone at each other on record before. On “Piggy Bank,” Fif infamously mocked Nas’ tattoo of Kelis and called him a “sucker for love.” In return, Nas struck back on “Queens Get The Money,” saying 50 was a porch monkey hiding behind 8 Mile and The Chronic. Ouch. But the best barbs between “God’s Son” and “Ferrari F-50” might be the ones that never became accessible to the viewing public.
Allegedly this all spawned from 50’s belief that Nas had him booted off a remix to the Jennifer Lopez 2001 single “I’m Gonna Be Alright,” when both Nas and 50 were still on Colombia. Songs like Nas’ unreleased “Don’t Body Yourself” hint at the friction (“Yeah we from the same hood but nigga what?”), but the real drama of songs like “Spastic” has since been lost in the pre-Internet ether (no pun intended). Summer Jam giveth, and Summer Jam taketh away. 50 hinted at something involving Nas in the weeks leading up to Hot 97’s infamous annual festival. And, in a show of Queens solidarity, Nas provided an intro of sorts for 50’s performance.
50 Cent vs. Rick Ross
Much like any war, the inclusion of spouses, children and innocent bystanders is usually an indication things have reached a new low. After the mother of 50 Cent’s child, Shaniqua Tompkins was forced to evacuate a Long Island home 50 Cent owned, the property was destroyed in a May 2008 fire. Rick Ross poked fun at the situation with the following bars from the song “Mafia Music”:
“I love to pay ya bills, can’t wait to pay your rent / Curtis Jackson baby mama, I ain’t askin’ for a cent / Burn the house down nigga, you gotta buy another / Don’t forget the gas can, jealous stupid motherfucker…”
And like that, it was on. On Feb. 2, 2009, 50 Cent posted an interview with Tiallondra “Tia” Kemp, Rick Ross’ baby’s mother, on his website Thisis50.com. In the interview, Kemp, who was engaging in a child support case with Ross at the time, confirmed Ross worked as a correctional officer. After the interview, 50 took Kemp on a shopping spree on 5th Avenue. The beef went viral, as 50 Cent introduced the “Officer Ricky” character to poke fun at Ross’ correctional officer past, and Ross took to calling 50 “Curly.”
Despite the usual threats to end each other’s respective careers, this beef didn’t so much get squashed as it died from a lack of fan interest. Aside from 2009, which saw Before I Self Destruct and Deeper Than Rap hit shelves in the same calendar year, 2014 marks the second time both rappers have released retail offerings within months of one another.
50 Cent vs. Jadakiss
Much like Fat Joe, Jadakiss was one of the many Empire State emcees 50 targeted for appearing on Ja Rule’s “New York.” But in terms of retaliation, ‘Kiss arguably flipped the script on 50 better than Ja or Joe, as he implored 50 and the listening Rap public to shift the focus away from sales and chart positions.
“I might never sell that much / But you can bet your last two quarters, I’ll never tell that much / Picture ‘Kiss not come out swinging’ / That’s like going to see 50 at a show, and he don’t come out singin’ / Yeah you got a felony, but you ain’t a predicate / Never the king of New York, you live in Connecticut,” Jada spit on 2005’s “Checkmate.” The track was complete with the standard issue 50 barbs about glamorizing being shot and allegations of snitching. But Jadakiss focused on skills, telling 50 his raps were preschool.
The Jadakiss and 50 Cent beef was easily squashed because it never truly got personal. In a March interview with Complex, 50 Cent revealed he planned on including Jadakiss on one of Animal Ambition’s collaborations. Fif even ventured to Yonkers, where fellow LOX member Styles P had also joined Jadakiss in the studio. The result was “Irregular Heartbeat,” which features Jadakiss and “Chase The Paper,” which features Styles P. Ultimately, good music (and what we can assume was some modicum of mutual respect) won out.
50 Cent vs. Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff
Some beefs reach levels of intensity that would make any quarrel between rappers seem as insignificant as two toddlers fighting over a toy. Consider the dynamic between 50 Cent and Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff one such beef. McGriff and the Supreme Team have been named dropped in Hip Hop at least as far as Nas’ 1994 album, Illmatic. Five years later, 50 mentioned both McGriff and Gerald “Prince” Miller on the song “Ghetto Qu’ran.”
“Yo when you hear talk of the Southside, you hear talk of the Team / See niggas feared Prince and respected ‘Preme / For all you slow motherfuckers, I’ma break it down iller / See ‘Preme was the businessman, and Prince was the killer,” 50 rapped. In a July 2006 VIBE magazine interview with Ethan Brown, McGriff confirmed he was less than pleased with the song.
“Yes, it was factual,” McGriff said. “He said in the song, ‘Preme was the businessman, and Prince was the killer’… When we was coming up there was a code on the streets, a code of conduct, which was you never speak of dudes whom may still be in the streets.”
After serving nearly 15 years in federal prison, McGriff connected with Murder Inc. founder Irv Gotti to license the rights to a Donald Goines novel. Things seemingly reached a head when 50 and Ja continuously clashed and Fif implied McGriff was responsible for the 2000 attempt on his life. By 2003 Gotti was hurt by a three-year federal investigation on charges of laundering money for McGriff. While Gotti was eventually found innocent, McGriff was convicted of drug trafficking, racketeering and murder charges. There was no love lost between 50 and McGriff.
“Either way, he’s a wrap now, because the changes they don’t see is the financial transition,” 50 told XXL in a 2011 interview. “Same way the nigga that shot me wasn’t an in-house for them—he was just a shooter. I have access to that now. I have the finances. The shooters shoot as soon as the bag is dropped. So now, either they give him life, or they let him go and I give him life. They don’t understand the difference. The first album I was trying to explain it, Power of the Dollar. They had money when I didn’t have money, so I had to take bullets.”
50 Cent vs. Game
An infamous quote reads, “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” In the case of former Game, he may have been the ultimate pupil when it came to running an all out smear campaign against his former G-Unit general 50 Cent. Weeks of rumored fiction between Game and 50 were confirmed in February of 2005 when 50 told Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex Game was being booted from G-Unit due to disloyalty. Game’s desire to distance himself from several of 50 Cent’s multiple beefs didn’t sit so well, and the Compton, California native quickly found himself on the outs.
This quarrel then spilled over from the airwaves to the streets when Game and an entourage returned to Hot 97 after hearing 50’s remarks. Fellow Compton native Kevin Reed sustained a wound to the leg after a shooting outside the radio station’s offices. Shots were also fired outside of Violator Management offices.
Despite attempts by Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and others, there was only a short-lived truce between Game and 50. Both artists appeared at a March 9 press conference in Harlem, New York.
“We’re here today to show that people can rise above the most difficult circumstances and together we can put negativity behind us,” 50 Cent offered. “A lot of people don’t want to see it happen, but we’re responding to the two most important groups, our family and our fans.”
By the time summer rolled around, the truce was over again. Game appeared to thrive off the beef via fan responses to his G-Unot campaign, the song “300 Bars” and an about face at Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam. In July of 2009, Game publicly apologized for his role in the beef, telling MTV’s Shaheem Reid, “If we never [broke] up, I think Detox would have been out and we all would have been selling millions from Banks to Buck, Tony Yayo. I’m gonna apologize for my role.”
With Game likely headed to Cash Money and 50 going the independent route, the chances of hearing the original four-man G-Unit lineup together are about as likely as a Detox release. As 50 reunited with Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck at the 2014 Summer Jam, Game was conspicuously absent.
50 Cent vs. Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond
This one got very real as both of these men have legitimate ties to a street life that most Hip Hop artists simply emulate. Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond was up for a murder-for-hire trial when 50 Cent took the opportunity to throw his customary jabs on Instagram: “LMAO THIS BOY SOLVED EVERY CRIME IN NEW YORK. Old gangsta jimmy,go a head tell some more s–t killer. Lol.”
The thing is, though, that 50 was speaking about a man who, as it came out during trial, was stalking and reportedly paying for acts of violence to be done to 50 Cent and G-Unit’s crew. On June 5, 2012, a jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn found Rosemond guilty of running a drug trafficking operation responsible for $2.8 million with ties to 19 other people. Some 17 days later, the New York Times reported Rosemond was involved in hiring a hit on G-Unit associate Lowell “Lodi Mack” Fletcher. The assassination was supposed retaliation for an altercation Jimmy had with Tony Yayo before an awards ceremony at the Apollo in 2007.
Let’s think about just how completely nuts all of that is. Openly mocking a man that’s on trial for the murder of an associate of yours? Not to mention that the same man reportedly shot up Tony Yayo’s Bentley for the G-Unit rapper reportedly putting hands on Rosemond’s son, and plotted on your demise consistently over the course of a number of years? One that is now in federal prison for life for running an enormous drug-trafficking business through the shuffling around of music equipment. With all that said, 50’s gangster should never, ever be questioned… ever. This was a beef that happened almost exclusively off wax, and with dire consequences waiting in the wings at every turn.