If you do a Google Image search for “50 Cent money,” this is what comes up:
Wouldn’t you know it, lots of pictures of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson with money! Incredibly, not only was his debut, the now-classic “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’,” titled with cash in mind, but so was the album that was supposed to be his debut in 1999, “Power of the Dollar.” Also…50 Cent. His rap persona is money incarnate. This is all to say that Jackson’s main career focus has been the almighty dollar, which is why heads turned when he was called into bankruptcy court last July.
After being ordered to pay $7 million to a woman who accused him of uploading her sex tape to the internet, Jackson stated that he simply didn’t have the money. For a guy whose favorite songs at age twelve were the singles from “Get Rich,” this made no sense. Not only has the man sold upwards of 30 million records, he’s got a comical amount of side hustles, even for a rapper. At one point or another, Jackson had his brand represented by movies, video games, vodka, sneakers, boxing promotions, apps, clothing, energy drinks, young adult novels, diamond mines(!), luxury underwear(!!) and headphones.
Adding insult to insult, Jackson kept posting pictures on his Instagram next to outlandish piles of money. This one is my favorite:
50 Cent’s creditors told the court about some of the photos, calling them “at a minimum, openly contemptuous” This is where the myth of hip-hop starts to unravel a bit. It should be obvious that when one of the bedrocks of a style of music is money, both the pursuit and the achievement of it, tall tales begin to grow. This is not a new thing, either. Luminaries like Ma$e, Lauryn Hill and MC Hammer have gone broke and survived. the difference is the way Jackson had to pull the curtain back in court filings:
“Just because I am photographed in or next to a certain vehicle, wearing an article of clothing, holding a product, sitting next to what appears to be large sums of money or modeling expensive pieces of jewelry does not meant that I own everything in those photos,”
He goes on:
“The separation between ’50 Cent’ and Curtis Jackson is virtually impossible to maintain. Since the explosion of social media, I have maintained a strong social media presence that is consistent with the public persona of ‘50 Cent.'”
Damn. This is a guy who briefly had a net worth rivaling Jay-Z, and now he is reduced to posing with piles of fake money to keep up a supposed “public persona.” Now more than ever, 50 Cent is inching closer to hip-hop’s not-so-distant cousin: professional wrestling. And right now, no one is “exposing the business” quite like Terry Bollea.
The man professionally known as Hulk Hogan for over 35 years has arguably had the worst decade of his life.
Outside of the ring, his wife divorced him, his son was in a serious car accident and later jailed for reckless driving and his daughter’s expensive music career failed. Those family issues alone would have been enough, but in 2012, media empire Gawker released a snippet of a sex tape involving Hogan and the wife of his best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge (really). Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse for the 60 year-old former wrestler/restaurateur/pasta conglomerate owner, the tape was later revealed to feature a conversation involving heavily racist language.
Almost instantaneously, the WWE scrubbed his existence from their website and Hall of Fame. To be clear, pimps, murderers and Donald Trump are still proudly featured in the HOF. Looking to clear some of the downright ugly black marks next to his name, Hogan sued Gawker for $100 million for releasing the video. The trial began this week, and just like the curious case of Curtis and 50, much was made about the distinct differences between Terry Bollea and Hulk Hogan.
Arguably (in a court of law, perhaps), Bollea hasn’t stopped playing Hogan since 1985. Even his court appearance mirrors the familiar red & yellow of the glory days, right down to that damn bandana. The art of professional wrestling is in the “work,” or acting just real enough for audiences that they can suspend disbelief long enough to watch a fake fight. Gawker is attempting to prove that Hogan is a public person, so a sex tape involving him would inherently be newsworthy. Hogan, bizarrely, has gone to great lengths to build the distance between him and the character. For instance, watch this video where Hogan has to differentiate between the penis sizes of himself and his alter-ego:
In that clip, I can’t help but feel for the Hulkster. For all the decades of braggadocio, here he is having to emphatically state on record in a court of law that his member isn’t as big as the character he plays.
The twin cases of Hulk Hogan and 50 Cent prove that you can live the lie until the wheels fall off, but you have to be prepared to skid down the road until you crash. These are guys that both came from relative squalor and rose above to reach the top of their respective fields. We have been told time and again that fame warps people, but it’s fascinating to see it happen in real time. What will happen next is anyone’s guess, brother.