For many of you unfamiliar with hip hop and its origins, its battles and celebrities, may I suggest you skip this article and go and read Hello Magazine or the latest editon of Oprah. Those who have an inkling or have heard of 50 Cent but a systematic one sided affair, which, more often that not, portray's the character as a villian rather than hero.
The group, G Unit comprises of Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck and 50 Cent, who is also the leader of the band. The noticeable difference between G Unit (Gorilla Unit) and other groups formed since the millenium is that they diversify into other areas considered off limits to blacks and hip hop artists. Fisrt of all, they release an album every 2 weeks. Yes that's right, 26 albums a year. (free to download if you know the hook up). However they see music more of an opening to other avenues in order to spread the G Unit brand and raise the profile of individual members. This plan has worked since the release of 'fiddy's' first track, '21 questions', to where they purchased a bottled water company and sold it to Coco-Cola for $40m. They have a sneakers deal with Reebok, which meand there are G Unit trainers to be bought. Not to mention movie rights, a hotel plaza to rival Donald Trump, G Unit airlines and soon to be TV channel.This is what I have been getting our black people in the UK to raise their own game. It's all well and good, buying up BMW, but at some point, one of us has to own a BMW Car dealership, so younger youths can come through and not just see we ONLY drive the car. G Unit is about taking it to the next level. And the one after and the one after that.
If black people were to open their eyes right now, we'd realise in the world scheme of things we don't have jack shit. Not a bank to call our own. Not a TV channel. Not even a chain of barbershop's to show we left our mark on society in a positive and influential level, rather than the negativity which is constantly portrayed and seems we are living up to. Granted we have Sunblest Bakery and that is very good, I'm not knocking them, but we have to raise the bar and when we see groups and our people like G Unit and Fiddy, you must burn a spliff or drink a drink for what they are trying to show our youngsters - that entertainment is entertainment and reality is Gas and Phone Bill.
Kylie Minogue is not at this level and it took Barbara Streisand and dem peeps a lifetime to achieve the financial clout of the 'Unit. So what makes 50 Cent so special, so unique that he has as many admirers as followers? Well first, with all successful people, especially people of color, they will be met with a resounding resentment, not just of their achievments but how they achieved their goal/status. Secondly, since the start of hip-hop, personal battles with fellow rappers has enabled hip hop to grow to the level where it is the fastest and most dominanant music force on the planet today. Battles and beef wars are as standard as 16 bars to a verse. Hip hop is about ego, mass self esteem and an extraodinary ability to express the voice of the oppressed. Listening to hip hop past the age of 40 allows me not to get caught up in the media and gossip hype and appreciate the music for what it is, unconditionally. The fact G Unit can generate a million dollars from each mixtape album every two weeks, gives them clout in the industry unrivalled or unmatched on this scale.
I believe 50 is trying to be become a new type of artist, where the percentage of monies generated from actual music, is small in comparison to the actual turnover of the group. Also the fact he is branching into so many avenues, unrelated to hip hop is a new initiative that I welcome. In a little over 5 years G Unit have ammassed more than $400million, no mean feat for a bunch of uneducated, villians, with a leader who was shot in the face 9 times. They have realised that the majority of black people and the under 25's do not venture into record shop's to hear music any longer. Personally I have no idea of the price of a CD or how much it costs to download a track from itunes as since the introduction of mp3's I fail to see the logic of buying something which is available for free.
By no means is 50 Cent a great rapper in the mould of Biggie, 'Pac or Nas. 50 is not even the best rapper in his group, with that mantle going to punchline king, Lloyd Banks, himself, having released 7 albums over the past 2 years. Personally I love the beats, flow and Lloyd Bank's lyrics more than I like G Unit or 50, but it's the branding of the group and where he is taking them that I admire, as much as "Window Shopper". From the Management of Dr Dre. at the top with Interscope, who in turn manage Eminem, who in turn manages G Unit via his own record label, Aftermath. The whole concept, that if one get's paid, we all get paid, is what seperates G Unit from other groups. The fact they are pioneers in the first decade of the 21st century is tantamount to their hard work, endevour and a benchmark, others will find hard to match.
Next up, is a movie with Robert De Niro, followed by G Unit's venture into the nasty world with the G Unit porn channel. If you've seen any of the previous 8 G Unit porn flicks, then all I can say is the channel is well overdue and long may it last. (See this page, for subscription and membership details)
As an elder statesman of the hip hop fraternity, we have come a long way since Public Enemy sang "Fight the Power" or NWA cursed when they sang 'Fu*k the Police'. G Unit, represent all I stand for, the focus and drive of the entire group added to the fact they have opened doors for other black folk to enter alternative avenues other than selling out like Oprah or many others I could mention.
This is what the late great Notorious BIG was talking about, when he mentioned going from nasty to classy.