Originally posted by PB
Sorry to interrupt, but who will explain to us non-americans what's anyway this 50 Cent and why so much fuss about it?... To my eyes this name looks something like '50 cents' or '50% of something'. I just don't understand.
If you allow me, dear Sir/Madam, to explain in International English. Part One
Firstly we have the phenomenon of African Americans living in America. It is always a volatile issue (as you can already see from some controversy on this thread) regarding the state of African Americans generally being poorer and forming the lower section of the socio-economic ladder.
African Americans are a minority and some consider themselves to be the underclass oppressed by the majority richer, white population.
<skip long story and history, other discussions etc.>
So we come to Rap music. Or Hip-Hop as it is also known. Most rappers give themselves various names which to those outside the genre of Hip Hope, makes no real sense.
For example, Jay-Z: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_z
"Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), popularly known as Jay-Z or by a variety of nicknames (Jigga, Jay-Hova, Hova, Hov, Young Hov..."
Then there is Ice-T and Ice-Cube. Famous rappers, but out of context Ice-T sounds like ice lemon tea in the summer, and Ice-Cube sounds like, well, something out of a tray in your freezer.
But lets come to Ice-T (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_T
) who is considered the pioneer of Gangsta Rap.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangsta_Rap
"Gangsta rap is a subgenre of hip hop music which involves a lyrical focus on the lifestyles of inner-city criminals & gangmembers. Although crime and violence in the inner city have always been part of hip hop's lyrical canon, before the rise of gangsta rap the subject was not embraced or addressed so blatantly. Gangsta rap also signalled an end to the mainstream popularity of socially conscious lyrics put forward by golden age artists"
Meaning, here were rappers talking about getting shot (and the popularity and honour arising from the incident) and openly endorsing violence and drugs as a way of life, and in some cases as a way to survive in the shadow of the oppressive white majority.
From Ice-Cube: http://www.lyricsstyle.com/i/icecube/itwasagoodday.html
Key lines from "It Was A Good Day"
Today I didn't even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day (shit!)
While this song is not a major Gangsta Rap song the reference to the AK-47 would be alarming to some people who might take it literally -- that here was a African American rapper driving around Los Angeles with an AK-47 rifle he used often.
The rise of 50cent or pronounced "Fiddy" instead of "Fif-tee" is described in the wiki again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangsta_Rap
"However, the biggest success for post-Bad Boy East Coast gangsta was 50 Cent, who achieved worldwide superstardom after jointly signing with Eminem's Shady Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment and releasing the album Get Rich or Die Tryin', before launching numerous similarly styled affiliate artists... 50 Cent's music was harder-edged than most artists who had achieved similar levels of success, though he made occasional concessions to a more mainstream sound, particularly in his single releases."
I put forward that it could be said that 50Cent is a name made up to refer to his rise from poverty and his early years in crime. By representing the underclass and advocating violence and unlawfulness 50Cent developed a reputation and as mentioned above selled many a record, with "Get Rich Or Die Trying" a kind of anthem for those who perceive African Americans as the desperate underclass.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangsta_Rap
"Whereas much gangsta rap of the past had portrayed the rapper as being a victim of urban squalor, the persona of late-nineties mainstream gangsta rappers was far more weighted towards hedonism and showing off the best jewelry, clothes, liquor, and women"
This is where the 50Cent phenomenon becomes really interesting. He becomes very popular in the past several years through the right connections and his call for getting rich by any means necessary is also a sign of being macho.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_cent
"50 Cent achieved multi-platinum success with [two] albums, selling around 26 million albums worldwide. [50Cent] is known for his gangsta image, and prides himself on having been shot nine times and stabbed twice, and for surviving the ordeal."
Gangsta rap becomes "cool" by "showing off" that you're not afraid, you're gonna blow someone's brains off, or that you actually got shot, stabbed, or you were involved with the police in some "badass" way. Twisted, many would say. As referenced above, this showing off intertwines with the phenomenon of "bling" and "pimp" which can be translated to International English as "to make extravagantly impressive just for the sake of it".
So someone that has a known criminal history, has been involved in gunfights, releases albums called "The Massacre" and "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" sells 26 million albums worldwide. A search on the Music Store reveals easy accessibility to 50Cent's songs and music videos.
What is interesting and what most AppleInsider readers, and perhaps mainstream America, is finding interesting is how Gangsta Rap has now become really cool, in the mainstream, and has a big following among the younger people.
In the movie "The Inside Man" (2006) http://imdb.com/title/tt0454848/
one of the bank robbers speaks to a young African American kid playing on his Playstation Portable. He asks the kid if he's scared or something and the kid replies something to the effect of "Nah, what y'all doing is cool, like my man Fiddy said, get rich or die tryin'". The movie also shows in simulated 3D graphics the kid playing a gangsta character putting a grenade in another gangsta's mouth and then his head blowing up.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_cent
"On a taping of The O'Reilly Factor, conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly has urged boycotts against rap music. O'Reilly named 50 Cent as a target of his crusade to prevent rappers who promote bad behavior from endorsing mainstream merchandise. He criticized shoe maker Reebok for partnering up with 50 Cent to endorse his G-Unit Sneakers. O'Reilly has rallied another boycott, this time against the shoe maker. Despite the boycott, sales remain excellent, and Reebok still continues to endorse 50 Cent's products. However, a television advertisement for Reebok which featured 50 Cent was taken off air in the United Kingdom. The advertisement contained lyrics from one of the rapper's tracks, which resulted in complaints against their violent imagery..."
This is not a mockup, this is a real Reebok (RBK) product shot for 50Cent endorsed shoes: (image below)
To be continued...