The 21-minute video delves into the tension that has simmered between the two rap icons for over 20 years, from jostling for Hip Hop supremacy in the early 2000s to their competitive nature in the world of business.
As highlighted in the episode, 50 and Hov’s relationship got off to a rocky start. On his provocative 1999 song “How to Rob,” a then up-and-coming Fif famously rapped about sticking up his rap peers — including JAY-Z.
“What, Jigga just sold, like four milli? He got something to live for/ Don’t want a n-gga putting four through that Bentley Coupe door,” he spit.
The Roc-A-Fella co-founder fired back during his performance at Hot 97’s Summer Jam that year by debuting “It’s Hot (Some Like It Hot),” on which he rapped: “Go against Jigga yo ass is dense/ I’m about a dollar — what the fuck is 50 cents?”
Years later, JAY-Z revealed in an interview with Angie Martinez that he had spoken to 50 backstage at the festival and it was all love. 50 even credited Hov’s rebuttal with elevating his burgeoning career.
“When he responded, I was complimented,” he told Rolling Stone in 2003. “He wouldn’t say nothing back to somebody he didn’t think was hot. I never went to radio until after he said that about me. I don’t know if my career would be where it’s at if he didn’t respond.”
By ’03, 50 Cent and JAY-Z’s rivalry had morphed from undisputed champion versus up-and-coming challenger to what felt more like two equals after the Queens, New York native dropped his smash hit “In Da Club” and blockbuster debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin,’ catapulting him to global stardom.
The Dr. Dre-produced anthem, which topped the Billboard 200 and has since been certified 9x platinum, was enough to make Jigga put his entire Roc-A-Fella roster on notice.
“Bleek, Beans, everybody was in [the studio] and I was like, ‘I’m telling you, man, y’all got a chance right now, just flood it, put out a lot of music. Because 50 Cent is coming,'” Jay recalled in a 2013 interview with The Breakfast Club. “Four months later, ‘In Da Club’ hit and it was over. It was like, okay, now everybody gotta sit on the sidelines and wait this tidal wave out.”
Ever the strategist, JAY-Z seemingly decided to keep his enemies closer by hitting the road with 50 Cent on the Rock The Mic Tour in 2003. The pair even freestyled together in a Reebok commercial to promote their respective sneaker collaborations with the sports giant.
Yet repping the same brand didn’t appear to snuff out the competitive fire as 50 later bragged about his G-Unit Reebok shoes outselling Jay’s S. Carter kicks “six to one.” Hov also dropped out of the extended run of their joint tour, which coincided with his retirement plans at the time.
The pair’s only other musical collaboration came four years later when JAY-Z jumped on the remix of 50 Cent’s 2007 hit “I Get Money” alongside Diddy, but once again, the shots continued to ring out as Hov reminded 50 that the Big Apple still belongs to him.
Although both men have stepped back from music over the years — 50 reinventing himself as a TV mogul and Jay becoming a multi-billionaire who occasionally still blesses the mic — jabs have continued to be exchanged between the New York giants.
In an interview with DJ Envy after Lil Mama crashed his and Alicia Keys’ performance at the 2009 MTV VMAs, Fif took a dig at Hov by claiming it was because he’s no longer intimidating.
“He’s way more approachable,” he said. “It’s the Beyoncé and, I don’t know, the Sinatra vibe he’s trying to put on that’s making people comfortable enough to walk on his stage.”
50’s more recent comments about Jay are also highlighted in the episode, including his brutal assessment of his 2017 LP 4:44.
“I thought the shit was aiight, but I’ma keep it a hunnit: the shit was too smart,” he said. “I felt like I was supposed to be wearing glasses and shit, and a tie, and a fucking sweater around my waist. It was Ivy League shit … That shit was like golf course music.”
While their rivalry never escalated like their respective beefs with Ja Rule and Nas did, the tension between 50 Cent and JAY-Z has produced some truly memorable moments over the years while long keeping fans intrigued.
To hear 50 tell it, though, Hov never posed any real competition to him when he was at the height of his powers.
“There ain’t never been no 50 Cent-JAY-Z conversations questioning whether there was a competition between the two of them,” he told Tim Westwood in 2009. “It’s a huge difference in energy internationally in 50 Cent and JAY-Z. His largest selling record sold 430-something thousand copies; my largest selling records — plural, two of them — sold five million. That’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre.
“Let them be fooled in America and think there’s a competition there, because America can be purchased, we can buy all the marketing dollars. But the rest of the world, there’s not enough marketing dollars to go around to change the way the rest of the world feels.”
Watch the episode in full below: