by Sean Smith
Queens rapper 50 Cent released his fifth studio album this week titled Animal Ambition. It was his first official album release in nearly five years. As a fan of both the hip hop genre, and his impact on it, I naturally took a brief look back, and realized how easy it was to forget how far he came in such a short amount of time. Of course he had some collaborative albums with fellow G-Unit members Tony Yayo, and Lloyd Banks, as well as countless feature credits put out over the years, but he has become synonymous with hip hop because of his solo album catalog, so, it was crazy to think that Animal Ambition was only album number 5 for him. It is however his first album released away from Interscope records, the label that broke him with the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre after his career got an impressive but rocky start.
Now he’s applying his mastery of the industry through his label G-Unit‘s new partnership with Caroline, an independent label associated with Capitol Music Group. Only time will tell if his new business arrangements will lead to matching or surpassing the success achieved during his time at Interscope, but anyone that truly knows 50 Cent also knows that he probably has something up his sleeve.
To see the first possible example of this, all you need to do is look at the news. 50 made headlines recently thanks to a lackluster ceremonial first pitch that he threw at a New York Mets game. No offense to 50, but many, myself included have said that it was probably one of the worst thrown ceremonial first pitch’s in the history of ceremonial first pitch’s. To take a quote from the 1989 film Major League, the pitch was “just a bit outside.”
That said, soon after the explosion of the pitch’s coverage was well within the middle of its news cycle, the rapper was spotted using his social media to take advantage of the attention and push his own Street brand headphones. This proved to us at Clizbeats that despite label changes album delays, or horrible ball throwing, hustling is always at the heart of what he does, and 50 Cent will find a way to come out on top. Keeping all of that in mind I thought it would be a good time to remember the first the first time I saw signs of his hustling heart by spotlighting my favorite song of his up to this point by far!
Now, many of you may think I’m talking about “In da Club” from his classic 2003 debut studio album Get Rich or Die Tryin’, but you would be wrong. I am of course instead talking about his first official single “How to Rob” which was released four years prior to “In da Club” in 1999. It was intended to be the lead single to what would have been his debut album with Columbia Records called Power of the Dollar, but after the label found out that 50 was shot nine times they dropped him and cancelled the project.
“How to Rob” was written as a way for a then unknown 50 cent to get his name out there and garner some attention within the hip hop community. He achieved that goal! The song is a cleverly describe plan of how the then Queens up and comer would theoretically rob some of the more notable R&B and hip hop stars of the time in a rapid fire type of delivery. It simultaneously shows you how hungry he genuinely was for success as a hip hop time capsule and entertains you line for line!
As you will hear, 50 seems to show no restraint in calling out all of the industries top names of the time including the likes of Jay Z, DMX, and even Boyz II Men, but he actually did hold back just a bit. In his original recording of the song he called out Mariah Carey and her ex, then Sony Music (Columbia Records parent company) exec Tommy Mottola. However his mention of the two was later changed to instead mention R&B singer Case and his ex Mary J. Blige after Mariah Carey threatened to leave the Columbia label if her name was included on the song’s official release.
“How to Rob” also featured the former leader of Bad Boy Records’ production team “The Hit Men,” Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie performing as his character The Madd Rapper on the song’s hook. For those of you who don’t know, Madd Rapper was a character that gained notoriety within the hip hop community in the 90s as the star of interlude comedy skits that were mixed into various high profile albums that were released by Bad Boy Records. That fame also grew to include the character’s own album release in the year 2000, Tell ‘Em Why U Madd on Crazy Cat/Columbia Records.
On a side note, if you haven’t to The Madd Rapper’s album, you should. It’s a good album that has a bunch of great guest appearances like Puffy Daddy, Eminem, Mase, Raekwon, and more. It was also produced by standouts that grew into industry leaders as well. Some big name examples include Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrence, Dame Grease, Kanye West, and Dion “No I.D.” Wilson, who just signed Common to Def Jam as the label’s executive VP this week.
Now, back to the topic at hand. “How to Rob” was also included on the soundtrack to the Omar Epps and LL Cool J film In Too Deep, and had some moderate chart success, peaking at #24 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart. It made a splash that still ripples through hip hop to this day, and it optimizes his pre-Shady/Aftermath struggles. Considering the fact that he now has a reported net worth that is well over $100 million, “How to Rob” has grown with its own novelty value as the melodic first chapter to the story of a truly unique American Dream.
So, in honor of 50 Cent continuing that dream with the release of his fifth studio album, Animal Ambition this week, we remember 50’s first official single from 1999 “How to Rob.” Enjoy!
50 Cent Featuring Madd Rapper
“How to Rob” (explicit)