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How 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ Shaped My Childhood

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It was the summer after 2nd grade.  As the rain poured down outside, I sat on my couch enjoying a bowl of Reese’s Puffs, surfing the channels.  Suddenly, an unfamiliar tune caught my attention.

A bouncing instrumental with a crisp beat got my head nodding.  A black Hummer cuts through the sand toward a large building.  Inside the lab, a familiar music video plays on every TV.

My eyes were glued to the glass.  My favorite rapper, Eminem, and his legendary producer Dr. Dre watch from above as surgeons dig through the back of an unconscious man.

The camera pans to men in white lab coats scribbling down notes on their clipboards.  The man appears from the ceiling, hanging upside down as he points straight through my screen — “Go shawty, it’s your birthday.”

get rich or die tryin shaped my


As the song went on, and 50 Cent was introduced to the world, I wanted to hear more.  I needed to know more about my favorite rapper’s new protégé.

Where could I find more of this music?

Once the video ended, the words Get Rich or Die Tryin’ appeared on screen.  I made a mental note, repeating it over and over in my head so I wouldn’t forget.

In July it would be my 8th birthday, and I knew exactly what I would ask for.  When the day came, I opened up a square-shaped gift from my grandparents.

As I tore away the paper, I realized that I got my wish.  The [censored] version of 50 Cent’s debut studio album was finally in my hands.  I hugged them both and ran off to find my Walkman.

While it was an afterthought at the time, as I grew older I realized how odd it was that my grandparents would actually purchase this CD for their innocent little 8-year-old grandson.  Years later, I heard the story.

get rich or die tryin shaped my


My mother called my grandfather with the following instructions, “please go to the store and pick up the new 50 Cent CD for Tyler’s birthday”.  So he did.

My grandfather walked into the department store and immediately found the music section.  But after searching for a few minutes, he couldn’t find what he was looking for.  Confused, he asked one of the workers for help.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for the 50 Cent CD’s.  All these ones say $14.99.”

The worker held back laughter as he explained that 50 Cent is the name of the artist, not the price of the album.  So he pointed him in the right direction and, reluctantly, my grandfather bought me one of the best birthday gifts I ever received.

get rich or die tryin shaped my

Young G-Unit fans

I must’ve listened to that album over a hundred times that summer.  I even convinced my friend that he should buy it too.  So he showed his dad, who took one look at the track listing and said, “High All the Time?!  You’re not listening to this!”

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ never gets old.  When I’m with my friends, we still blast it through the speakers.

Since we were 8-years-old we’ve known every word.

Written By

Division III baseball alum (McDaniel College) and founder of Joker Mag. Sharing underdog stories to inspire the next generation.



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