The untold truth of 50 Cent

50 Cent entered the rap game with a bang in the early 2000s, making some high profile enemies both in and outside of the music business when he was still just a rookie on the scene. The New Yorker (real name Curtis Jackson) almost had his career cut tragically short when he was the subject of an attempted murder, but he bounced back from that and found himself on Eminem's radar, who—with the help of Dr. Dre—catapulted the Queens boy to stardom.

His debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' sold 872,000 copies in its first week and has gone on to be certified platinum many times over, but those glory days are very much a thing of the past for Jackson, who has been found in the court more often than da club in recent years. He certainly isn't the first rapper to have led an eventful life, but 50 Cent's journey has been a real roller coaster ride.

His mother was murdered

Jackson never knew his father, and he lost his mother when he was just 8 years old. According to his memoir From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens (via the New York Post), his mom Sabrina was a hard woman who raised her son in her own image. "You pick something up and hit him if you have to," she told him after he came home upset after a fight in kindergarten. "But you're not going to come back here crying." She was a drug dealer by trade, and being in that world is what got her killed.

According to Jackson, rival dealers murdered his mother, drugging her and leaving her to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. "Someone put something in her drink and turned the gas on," he is quoted as saying by ContactMusic. "After that, every time something went wrong I'd think, 'If my mother was here it wouldn't be like that.'"

His aunt poisoned his dog

Jackson would later describe his mother as "really aggressive, really manly, really tough," but despite that he would still come to miss her dearly. "She was everything," he told Oprah (via XXL) as a tear rolled down his cheek. "She was like my mother, my father." After Sabrina's death, the future rap star went to live with his grandparents on 161st Street in South Jamaica, where he was raised. It wasn't all happy families, however.

"I thought that everybody's family sat around, got drunk, and played practical jokes that caused second-degree burns," Jackson said of his new life. Things got so bad at home that his dog—a doberman named Dillinger—got swept up in the violence. "My aunt Sylvia didn't like me growin' up cause she was the baby till I came," he tweeted in 2010. "We had roaches so she put roach spray in a bowl and kill my dog."

He was a pre-teen drug dealer

Jackson has made no secret of the fact that he followed in his late mother's footsteps and started slinging drugs to make a living. Many rappers have a past in the drugs business, though few can claim to have started as young as Jackson, who began selling crack during the epidemic of the 1980s at just 12 years old. "When you grow up without finances, it starts to feel like finances are the answers to all of your problems," he is quoted as saying by NYMag. "And a kid's curiosity leads him to the 'hood, and he finds someone who got it and he didn't go to school. They tell you, 'No, you can get paid like this.'"

According to the New York Post, Jackson used a combination of marketing and muscle to make a name for himself and his product, which he made himself. "There's a rhythm to making crack," the rapper wrote in his 2005 memoir. "And with each step, my heart beat faster because all I really wanted to do was sell it. I'd whip up the mix, boil the water, cook it up, piece out the rocks, stuff the vials and hit the block."

He's been linked to Jam Master Jay's murder

Jackson only started to consider changing his career path after a chance meeting with Jam Master Jay (real name Jason Mizell) of RUN DMC fame. The DJ saw something in Jackson and decided to give him a shot at recording an album, but things quickly got crazy. In one of the first tracks he laid down for the album, "Ghetto Quran," Jackson reminisced about his time on the streets moving product, naming several other suspected/known dealers from the era.

When news of that song got out, the up-and-coming emcee was blacklisted from studios, but Jam Master Jay ignored this. According to an agent assigned to the US treasury department, this may have been a fatal mistake. "Law enforcement agents are investigating the possibility that [Mizell] was murdered for defying the blacklist of 50 Cent," special agent Francis Mace told The Guardian in 2005. In 2017, almost two decades after his death, the case was officially ruled cold.

He was shot nine times in a drive-by shooting

The album that Jam Master Jay was reportedly hit for was never actually released, as Jackson was almost killed in a drive-by shooting a few months before it was due to drop. He was in a car outside his grandmother's house when a gunman pulled up and opened fire. Incredibly, Jackson was shot nine times and managed to survive. Reports of the incident state that he took bullets to his hand, arm, hip, both legs, chest and left cheek, which damaged his tongue and gave him his signature drawl.

The reason for the attempt on his life is thought to have been a line in "Ghetto Quran" which mentioned Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, the notorious drug lord who ran the Baisley Park projects. McGriff (who is currently serving a life sentence for drug trafficking, racketeering and murder) is said to have been unhappy about his name being dropped in the song and wanted the man behind it dead.

"McGriff was involved with the shooting of another rap artist, 50 Cent, who wrote a song exposing McGriff's criminal activities," an affidavit filed in connection with an investigation into Murder Inc. (Jackson's rival studio) finances stated. Jackson implicated the drug mogul later in his lyrics, and even claimed to have known the man who shot him. "He got killed a few weeks after I got shot," he said. "Same situation, somebody waiting on him."

He lost a ton of weight for a movie nobody watched

It didn't take long for Jackson to transition into acting after his breakout album Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003), portraying a fictional version of himself in a movie of the same name in 2005. His film career didn't exactly get off to a flying start, with the semi-autobiographical crime drama getting panned by critics. It scored a measly 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, though at least the majority of their critics bothered to review it, which wasn't the case with his next big movie project.

In 2011, Jackson portrayed a star college football player who gets diagnosed with cancer in All Things Fall Apart, a film that caused some buzz before it premiered at the Miami International Film Festival but wound up going direct-to-video. The rapper wrote the screenplay and financed the movie, for which he had to shed 54 pounds. "Jackson seriously committed to making a full-on physical transformation for the role, but he apparently couldn't be bothered to take an acting lesson, which makes all of his hard work seem like a waste," Collider said in their review.

He released a YA novel

You were probably aware of Jackson's side career as an actor thanks to the success of his Starz show Power, but did you know that he's also a published author? The majority of his work is strictly for grown-ups, but in 2012 he decided to enter the world of young adult fiction. Like the Get Rich or Die Tryin' movie, his novel Playground was loosely based on his real life experiences, following a kid growing up with a violent, gay mother.

Jackson has spoken openly about his mom being a lesbian, and Playground was applauded for exploring the topic of sexual orientation in black communities, but ultimately the book didn't cause much of a ripple in what was already a saturated genre. "50 Cent doesn't make a lot of interesting or novel choices in Playground," AVClub said in their review. "'Using your powers for good' is an important moral for young readers, but they've seen this scene played out so many times before that they probably won't get anything new from 50's take on it."

His let his kid design his video game

Jackson's first video game came out in 2005 when the rapper was still riding his first wave of popularity. 50 Cent: Bulletproof was an action adventure set in New York's dark underbelly, the place that Jackson called home for many years. It received generally unfavorable reviews, but some critics praised the gritty story and accompanying music.

The now-defunct publisher THQ took the reins for the 2009 sequel, and they moved the action away from the streets and into the realms of the ridiculous. In 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Jackson and the G-Unit go up against a crime-lord in a fictional war-torn country after he steals a jewel-encrusted skull from them. If it sounds as though it was written by a child, it's because it probably was.

Speaking to Edge magazine (via GamesRadar), the game's production director Ian Flatt revealed that Jackson had his 7-year-old son making executive decisions. "He played it and was saying, 'I love this, I love this, it's great! But I want a level with helicopters in!'" Flatt said. "Our guy explained it was a third-person shooter and didn't have helicopters in. But 50 Cent's son said, 'No, I want helicopters,' and 50 Cent turned around and said, 'You heard him. Make a level with helicopters in.'"

Did the NYPD try to frame him?

In 2017, New York rapper Prodigy (one half of Mobb Deep) passed away at the age of 42 while on tour after complications stemming from sickle cell anaemia. Tributes to the emcee began to pour in after news of his passing hit the hip-hop community, and Jackson was among them. In an Instagram post, he told a crazy story about a time that the NYPD supposedly tried to convince Prodigy (real name Albert Johnson) to set 50 up.

"They asked him if I keep any guns or drugs around," Jackson wrote. "Then wanted him to put a gun in my car. He didn't do it, instead he told me what they were trying to do. My man P." Johnson himself openly discussed the incident before his passing, telling VladTV that the NYPD were growing increasingly frustrated at not being able to pin something on Jackson. "They want to bring this man down because he's successful, has money and they never can't get no case on him," he said. "They want to arrest him so bad."

A sex tape almost ruined him

Jackson has survived numerous beefs with other rappers over the years, but his feud with Rick Ross almost cost him everything. The drama began after Ross took offence at a look Jackson apparently gave him at the 2008 BET Awards and decided to diss him in his track "Mafia Music." Things quickly got personal between the pair and Jackson decided to take it to the next level, tracking down a homemade sex tape featuring Ross' baby mama Lastonia Leviston and publishing it on his website.

According to Rolling Stone, Ross and Leviston were no longer together at the time the 13-minute clip was filmed. Jackson bought it from an ex-boyfriend of Leviston, who had his face blurred out before it was put online. This wasn't the case for Leviston, however, whose private parts were on show for the world to see. Jackson even edited himself into the video as a character named Pimpin' Curly, narrating and body shaming the woman throughout.

Unsurprisingly, Leviston decided to take legal action. The court heard that her daughters learned about the tape from schoolmates and that Leviston had considered taking her own life in the aftermath. Jackson was ordered to pay $7 million in damages, which forced him to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

He's a Bitcoin millionaire

In 2015, Jackson arranged a plan that allowed him to keep his business interests and pay back $22 million over a five-year period, though he didn't need anywhere near that much time to clear his debts. By early 2017 he had fully paid up and was discharged from bankruptcy, leading many (including the judge in the case) to question whether he'd been truthful about his finances. Now, Jackson is a genuine millionaire once more, thanks to some Bitcoin that he forget he even had.

The rapper became one of the first musicians to accept the digital currency back in 2014 and sales from an album he released that year have been quietly growing since. He made a total of 700 Bitcoin from his record Animal Ambition, which was worth $460,000 at the time. Not bad, right? Well, according to TechCrunch, that same amount of Bitcoin is worth a whopping $7,770,000 today. "I'm so proud of me," Jackson said in a since-deleted Instagram post. "I'm a keep it real, I forgot I did that s***."

Did he lie about the amount of times he was shot?

Jackson's rise to prominence was undoubtedly helped by his near-death experience, which fueled not only the man himself but the mystique surrounding him. "To have a story behind the music is so important," Eminem said of 50 Cent shortly after signing him, though some have cast doubt on Jackson's claim that he was shot nine times during that now infamous drive-by. The rapper often gets into heated debates on social media, and when he accused the mother of his son Marquise of not parenting properly on Instagram, she called him out on his backstory.

"You're a fraud and you're upset, I know it," Shaniqua Tompkins replied (via BET). "You created this fictitious character and you try to discredit me because I know the real! I know you made up you got shot nine times and it was actually five because you didn't want to be compared to Tupac! Remember, I was there!" Tompkins also referenced the time that Jackson went to the police to get an order of protection out against rivals Ja Rule and Irv Gotti after being stabbed by one of their associates, something the Candy Shop star has always denied.

He disowned his son on Instagram

That particular outburst wasn't the first time that Tompkins had went after Jackson on Instagram—far from it, in fact. The pair have had several nasty rows on the social media platform in the past, and their son Marquise has joined in from time to time, too. This was before Jackson publicly disowned and blocked him on Instagram, reportedly as a response to Marquise dropping a song entitled "Different" on the anniversary of the release of his dad's debut album.

"This is not a diss to my father at all," he told TMZ of the song. "I think they want it to be a diss. People are making it a diss because I guess they want it to be a diss. But it's not. It's what goes on in my life." Jackson ignored the song, but the chances of him being drawn into another public spat with Marquise in the future are high, especially if he continues to openly discuss their strained relationship in interviews. "I had a relationship with him growing up," Marquise told the Murder Master Music Show (via Oxygen). "I really can't even pinpoint when it went sour… He didn't make it to [my] graduation. For what reason? I think you'll have to interview him and ask him that."

He stole his name from a dead gangster

We'll probably never know for sure if Jackson was lying about the number of times he was shot to avoid comparisons with Tupac Shakur, but one thing that he's admitted to doing is stealing him name. In his 2005 memoir From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens (via the New York Post), the rapper-turned-businessman revealed that the name 50 Cent used to belong to a New York gangster who was notorious for shaking down rappers in the area. "The real 50 Cent was a stickup kid from Brooklyn who used to rob rappers," Jackson wrote. "Other rappers were running around, calling themselves Al Capone and John Gotti and Pablo Escobar. If I was going to take a gangster's name, then I wanted it at least to be that of someone who would say, 'What's up?' to me on the street if we ever crossed paths."

He's besties with Bette Midler

Jackson has made more foes than friends over the course of his career to date, though one artist who only has good things to say about 50 is Bette Midler—they've been thick-as-thieves since they opened a New York park together in 2009. "He is such a gorgeous star, holy cow," the Hocus Pocus actress told NY Daily News. "He's like the Godfather of Jamaica, Queens."

Midler claims that their odd friendship blossomed after she "called and nagged him" into putting his name to a new community garden she was setting up in Queens as part of her New York Restoration Project. "He's one of the newest members of our tribe," she said. "He's really made my life worth living. [Jackson] has been with me through thick and thin." Jackson even hinted at a collaboration, claiming that he and Midler "would be really hot," though sadly (or thankfully, more likely) it never happened.