People cluster and whisper excitedly because they’ve heard the news—50 Cent is on his way. They scan the south end of the large Las Vegas Convention Center, waiting eagerly as others join the throng of curious onlookers on the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) convention floor. The crowd parts way for Curtis Jackson. The multi-platinum rapper, actor, entrepreneur and mogul moves with a cool swagger, relaxed and self-assured, despite the commotion.
Star power—you’ve either got it or you don’t…and 50’s got it, the kind of magnetism that captivates, makes people stare and keeps the general public and a growing fan base hanging on his every word. When he leans in to speak, he doesn’t shout; he’s not rushed; and a mischievous smile pulls at his face. He is proud without coming off as cocky—he clearly knows his value. 50 Cent has recalculated the formula for what it means to be a successful artist entrepreneur. That’s how he earned his most recent title in a long list of awards—“Hustler of the Year” at the BET Awards.
50 Cent has quickly become the ultimate hip-hop mogul since he burst on the scene in 2003 with his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (Interscope Records, 2003) famously selling 872,000 copies in the first week. Before his latest release, Curtis (Aftermath, 2007), he’d sold 22 million albums worldwide and nabbed 11 Grammy nominations, numbers that grow by the day. Using his success and G-Unit label as a springboard, he has taken on corporate America, approaching $300 million in profits from his various endeavors. 50 is seemingly everywhere with investments in the $70-million G-Unit Footwear Collection by RBK, the $100-million G-Unit Apparel by an Ecko Unlimited joint venture, the Vivendi-Universal video game “50 Cent: Bulletproof,” his new book publishing imprint with “The Ski Mask Way” due out soon and his massively popular $120 million Formula 50 vitaminwater.
50 Cent is a busy man, and his appearance at SEMA is for more than just show. The night before the convention started, he introduced the new Pontiac G8 surrounded by GM executives, automotive suppliers and journalists in a ballroom at the Wynn Las Vegas. He was a consultant on this custom edition alongside Will Castro from Unique Autosports, who provided the finishing touches for 50’s vision, and he casually spoke of the distinctive qualities of the car. “I had an opportunity to present something to the public that hadn’t been seen before, so that was exciting,” he explains.
50 added the G-Unit flavor to his G8 with a Spies Hecker Torch Red exterior paint job offset by a black stripe in the shape of the Pontiac dart. Seven spokes twinkle on 22-inch NC Forged chrome wheels, suited up with low-profile Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires. Smoked taillights, windows tinted with Llumar film and a Borla exhaust give the G8 a menacing edge. In the cabin, black leather seats are accented with red leather inserts and embroidered 50 Cent and Unique Autosports logo on the seat headrests and floor mats. 50’s sound system is something to be reckoned with, as the 800-Watt JBL audio system, complete with amps and a subwoofer, is perfect to bump any of his three previous albums.