Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. rapper 50 Cent, is known for a lot of things. To many, he's known for his controversial blunt honesty that is often especially geared toward fellow rappers. He is also the epitome of a person living the American Dream, coming from nothing in Southside Jamica, Queens and eventually becoming a millionaire mogul with his own clothing line, vitamin water drink, books (fiction and non-fiction) as well as a few acting roles (Righteous Kill also starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.) For those who don't listen to his music, he may be identified as the guy who got shot "9 times!" But in 50 Cent's autobiography and 2005 New York Times Bestseller, From Pieces to Weight, you really get to know who he is and how he became the success story that he is today.
In an effort not give anything away and encourage you to read the book, I am going to try and focus only on the literary aspects of it.
You grow with him. The one thing I truly loved about the way this book is written is that as 50 Cent learns about "the game" or "hustling" and life itself, you learn with him. All the life lessons and business management rules (be they legal or illegal), are taught to the reader over time in much the same way that 50 Cent learned over time. At the start of the book are innocent moments such as spats between him and his young uncles and aunts, his dog eating the family's Thanksgiving turkey, and issues such as being bullied or not having cool things like the other kids. When his mom passes away you are given very little detail about her death while he is a child but both he and you, the reader, learn the hard truth once he's an adult. All the childhood dreams of simply wanting sneakers, dressing well, and making it out of the 'hood, morph into money hunger, corruption and a great fight for survival.
Not typical. Another great thing about From Pieces to Weight is that it does not give in to the stereotype that rappers are "ghetto" or uneducated. The language used in the book is extremely intelligent and the contrast between the language and the voice being used during the narration and the dialogue makes for good writing and it helps the book play out like a movie. It also expands the minds of the readers and intergrates two different worlds for the audience. This book is meant for anyone to read and I truly respect this about 50 Cent's writing apporach. On top of the use of language, the book is laced with random interesting facts much like the top of a Snapple bottle which are like added bonuses. This tactic does not appear to be used as a means of justifying bad decisions and actions, but rather so that the reader can be presented with facts and therefore be forced to challenge any preconceived opinions on the subject at hand they may have (i.e. the topic of cocaine).
Entertaining. Let's just say, if you are a fan of movies like Casino, Goodfellas, Blow, Carlito's Way, or television shows like The Wire, you will appreciate this book. It contains the same elements of betrayal, wit, cleverness and intensity that capture and hold one's attention.
The ultimate thing about this book are the lessons:
- It doesn't matter where you come from, who you are or what you've done... anything is possible in this world.
- Use intelligence to create, not destroy.
- If you learn from your mistakes, it wasn't a mistake. Make "bad" moments matter.
- The best things come along in life when you least expect them.
- Music can be one's escape... literally.
By the time you are done with the book, I'm pretty sure that you will be inspired. I know I was...
My favorite scene: When he plays a prank on his aunt. I wanted to laugh out loud so badly just picturing it. It was like a scene out of A Christmas Story.
Tip: If you've seen the movie Get Rich or Die Tryin', do not get it mixed up with this book because this book is definitely different and the film, although pretty good, hardly does 50 Cent's story justice. However, if you read the book, you'll get a really good idea of where 50 Cent's mind was when he wrote the songs that are featured in the Get Rich or Die Tryin' CD which sold over 12 million units worldwide.
You can watch a couple of his music videos below (Discretion is advised.)
"Wanksta" (2002) Said to be a diss song for fellow rapper Ja Rule.
"In Da Club" (2002) The new school "Happy Birthday" song.
"Many Men" (2002) One of his darkest songs; self explanatory really.
"Hate It or Love It" (2005) In my opinion his most touching, creative, and inspiring video.
"Baby By Me" (2010) One of his more recent videos. When you compare the song "Many Men" to this you see how he seems to be a lot more at peace nowadays.
If you've seen the movie, read this book, listened to his music or just have a comment about 50 Cent, please feel free to share it.