G-Unit Sit-Down

50 Cent sounds off on Kanye, Russell Simmons, Interscope, and Hillary vs. Barack.

50 Cent Barack Hillary Kanye West hip-hop Robert De Niro Nicholas Cage Fat Joe Interscope Russell Simmons New York Al Pacino Donnie Wahlberg John Leguizamo
50 Cent prays for better record sales this fall.
50 Cent prays for better record sales this fall.
The most hyped hip-hop showdown in years -- the September 11 release of both 50 Cent's Curtis and Kanye West's Graduation -- just ended in embarrassment for Fiddy. First-week sales declared Kanye the winner.

Just before Curtis dropped, we met up with 50 Cent at G-Unit Clothing headquarters in New York. The setup boasts a faux library of gold-painted books and topless ebony mannequins. In the flesh, Curtis Jackson III repped his brands: He wore a white Yankees cap and white Reeboks in an office stocked with more Glacéau VitaminWater than one person could possibly drink.

Fiddy was shorter than (but just as thick as) we imagined -- and much, much nicer. He answered 30 minutes of questions, complete with Kanye, Fat Joe, and Lil Wayne disses. He probably would have gone another 30, had we asked.

What's your favorite song on Curtis?
"Man Down." It's censored, though. Even on the dirty version.

I think companies are sensitive to the nonsense that goes on in the media.

The Russell Simmons stuff?
Yeah, totally that. While that's there, they want to avoid any possibilities of CDs being pulled off the shelves, with record sales the way they are.

Do you disagree with Simmons about self-censorship in rap?
I think he displayed to everyone that he aspires to pursue politics. I just think he was being politically correct. He said, "The rappers should censor themselves." It's the middle [ground].

Do you think he's going to run for governor?
One of these days you'll see him running. I'm-a vote for him too.

What's the question you're most sick of hearing right now?
It's impossible for them not to ask me a competition question with Kanye West. But I don't see him as my competition. We're so different as artists. He doesn't have my sales history. I feel like his company's done a great job of promoting him by putting him out on the same date. Because we're from the same [genre], to some people we're just the same, period.

And you're expected to do better, so . . .
If he even comes close to me, it's going to look great [for him]. And they'll probably do everything within their powers to make that happen for him.

Do you think he is trying to appeal to white kids?
Absolutely. With the record that he's releasing, it's [clear] that he doesn't care about the same audience [as I do]. We'll see who it actually matters to create for.

Take me through a typical day in your life.
You know what's crazy? I had a personal nutritionist and trainer come stay with me. I'd be up about seven o'clock, and I'd be working out. It allows you to have your thoughts fluent in your head. But I haven't been using him [recently]. I was preparing myself for a film project, with myself and Nicholas Cage [The Dance, a film based on the life of prison boxing-coach Billy Roth]. But it's actually further away than I anticipated. I got another project I'm working on now, for which it didn't make sense for me to be [chiseled]. It's called Righteous Kill, and it's myself, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Donnie Wahlberg, John Leguizamo. I'll be shooting in October. I don't need to be as big for that film, so I kind of chilled out.

You've been complaining about Interscope recently. Have you ever thought about doing what Fat Joe is doing and just going independent?
Nah, because they're willing to pay me. See, Fat Joe's in a space where no one wants him [laughs]. The majors don't care for Fat Joe. He's not generating any interest in the music he's releasing, so that's why he's forced to go on his own to sell his records. I call Koch the graveyard, because that's when the majors no longer feel like you're a safe investment.

If I complained about my boss in public . . .
It's hard to replace me [laughs].

Is it part of your marketing strategy to complain about Interscope publicly or a way to acquire a bargaining chip?
I'm not going to say that [winks, laughs]. They get nervous when I say that, though, because they know it's not easy to replace me.

You call people gay sometimes, like Lil Wayne and Baby . . .
It's the competitive nature of hip-hop. Hip-hop doesn't have anything against gay people. It's just that some people associate being gay with being soft. See what I'm saying? But, yeah -- I think it's odd for a man to kiss another man on his mouth, even though it isn't his biological father. For the father-son relationship, I think that's a bit much. If it was my son, I would kiss him on the cheek. He's a grown man! [laughs] Does your father still kiss you on the mouth?

I don't think he ever did. So do you have any close friends who are gay?
No. Not that I know of [laughs].

What if, like, a top-of-the-charts-caliber rapper came out as gay. What do you think would happen to him?
It depends on what kind of music he was making. Kanye West could come out, and people would be like, "You didn't notice how he dressed?" Not to disrespect Kanye, because Kanye says he's not like that.

You once said something about how George W. Bush was gangsta. Do you still think that?
I don't support him, but I think George Bush is concerned with maintaining order. That's the way gangsters move. So there are similarities. That's why I said that initially.

Who do you like in '08?
I support Hillary.

Not Barack?
Why? 'Cause he's black? [laughs] Nah, I like Hillary. I like the fact that she didn't leave Bill under those circumstances. I like a lot about her. She's been around too. I think she was the [real] president when Bill was.

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