Sha Money XL has been credited as an architect of G-Unit in its nascent stages. The Vice President of A&R at Def Jam, Sha Money was an essential part of G-Unit’s rise to the top, an era he recalled in a recent interview with XXLMag.com.
“[50 Cent] did freestyles for every DJ. That was our whole model; we’re going to be on everybody’s mixtape,” said Sha Money, referring to 50 Cent’s much-heralded revolutionizing of the mixtape game. “And those mixtapes had one artist on all their songs as a tradition at that time, which is what we changed. 50 and I collected all the freestyles that were individually given to Doo Wop, Cut Master C, Clue, Envy, Enuff, Flex, and Kay Slay. Look at all of them; they’re all different freestyles for each one of those DJs I just said to you. Collectively they played mad different niggas shit.”
Sha Money explained how G-Unit employed visuals in their rise to fame as well. “I had met this dude Don Morris. He works for The Source right now; he was the Creative Director for XXL at the time. I met him at the photo shoot, had his number, and homie hooked it up. We did another photo shoot we paid for, and he did the whole layout with me in his apartment in Manhattan. The whole shit with the stars around it, the picture of 50 with the custom-made wife beater, Yayo and them with the Air Forces—the whole coordination. 50 took his time to think about it. The artwork with the red, white, and blue, that whole shit was conceptualized, thought out, planned to perfection.”
Sha Money XL continued, recalling how green the original G-Unit trio – 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, and Lloyd Banks – were when it came to the recording process. “Yayo—it’s funny because I remember the first time he hit the booth and I heard him rap, I’m like ‘Why he sound so fucking—he sound crazy!’ So I went in the booth, and then I see him rapping on the other side where the microphone and the mesh are. He was rapping from the other side! I was like, ‘Nah, bro you got to stand right here.’ He didn’t even hit the booth up. So I was like, ‘Damn, these niggas is fresh like that.'”
“The mic was in their hand at the DJ’s crib, they did it like that. This was their first time them being in the studio recording vocals. Banks and them used to go to this other studio too, but it wasn’t like what I was doing.”
Finally, Sha Money recalled the legwork required to get 50 Cent Is The Future out into the streets. “The first dropping of that mixtape, the first time it touched land, I physically duplicated all those CDs in my man’s basement. That’s when I was sleeping there. Took it to Canal Street, Brooklyn—in my trunk. Canal Street, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and all those boroughs. And once it leaked, once it hit the streets, you know the duplication was like blue magic. That was me dropping it off, that was me personally.”