Beyoncé - "Schoolin' Life"

J.R. Taylor Choreography

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After building a career on being bulletproof, Fiddy came unstuck when his 2007 album release face-off with Kanye West – when he claimed he’d give up the rap game if West outsold him – didn’t work out so well.
‘Def Jam did a better job positioning Kanye West at that point,’ he concedes. ‘The entire time I’ve been at Interscope Records, they’ve been relying on my creative energy [read: feuds with other rappers] to move discs.’
Just as well latest album Before I Self Destruct, plus a greatest-hits compilation, see his obligations to Interscope completed. ‘Almost in the nick of time,’ he muses. ‘I didn’t even go to a staff meeting and play this album for them because they’re more confused than any group of people I’ve interacted with, ever.’
Before I Self Destruct hasn’t found much favour with critics. Fiddy describes it as a ‘prequel’ to major label debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. ‘I focused on the harder portion of my life,’ he says. ‘I’ve been what they consider successful for six years – so I can make reference to 28 years of not having.’
There’s little point discussing the morality behind his output, or even its quality – Fiddy’s music has made him millions and that’s his prime concern. But to go from being grateful for $20 to carrying $25,000 as pocket change (‘It’s in my jacket upstairs,’ he says bashfully) is quite a leap, and one it seems he’s still having trouble negotiating.
‘When you’re rich, you start to enter different circles and you run into [privileged class] wealth, which makes you feel that you need to do more because your money means nothing,’ says Fiddy. ‘And money’s the last thing they want to talk about because it’s not cool, it’s just there.’
He seems momentarily baffled – but mention Christmas and his face lights up. Is it a special time for him? ‘Absolutely – I get a chance to be Santa Claus,’ he says, flashing his famous toothy grin. ‘I try to spend the day around my grandmother. She took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself.’
His son, Marquise, now 12, is another topic guaranteed to make Fiddy beam. ‘He’s getting into girls, so now he’s paying a lot of attention to how he dresses and his hair and stuff like that,’ Fiddy explains.
The gulf between their two childhoods is vast – does Christmas make him reflect on that?
‘Oh yeah,’ says Fiddy. ‘He doesn’t even know what it’s like not to have, so he’s in a whole different space. When you grow up with nothing, you get a little mischievous, you know what I’m saying? There’s a lot more that you’d be open to, because how bad can the repercussions be, life’s already terrible. But he’s a peacemaker. Even with me and his mom, he tries to get in the middle and be the reason why we have to be cool with each other.’
So, what do you buy a man who has everything? ‘I’m not difficult,’ Fiddy insists, ‘because I don’t have high expectations from the people who actually buy me presents.’ (Possibly he doesn’t mean that to sound as harsh as it does.) ‘Basic stuff is cool.’ So he’d be happy with socks? ‘That’s necessities – nobody has enough socks. My little cousins buy me things like that.’
What’s top of his Christmas list, though? There’s a very long pause. ‘I’d take… an Audemars Piguet,’ he smiles shyly, and seems surprised I don’t know what on earth that is (a watch, it turns out). ‘Or you can never have enough fragrance,’ he suggests. Isn’t he bringing out his own, though? I want it to be called 50’s Scent – Fiddy decides to tactfully ignore this.
‘It’s called Power by 50 Cent,’ he says firmly. ‘The smell of success, baby! I had test runs of it. I’d spray it on me and go out in public and when I started getting compliments I thought, this is good.’
Momentarily stunned by the image of 50 Cent trying to create the Lynx effect, now seems the time to proffer our small gift. ‘Wow!’ he responds. ‘Thank you. Can I open it now? Oh, it’s for Christmas Day? It’s a book! This is nice. I’m gonna give books for Christmas presents.’
He jumps up and heads for the door, present in hand. ‘I got a gift!’ he announces loudly to his manager – and disappears in an excited flurry without saying goodbye. Seems the magic of Christmas can bring out the child in all of us.
Before I Self Destruct is out now.
I didn’t even play this album for Interscope because they’re more confused than any group of people I’ve interacted with, ever