50 Cent: A Published Scholar and a Grimy-Ass Gentleman
50 CENT: "FROM PIECES TO WEIGHT" -
THE MINDBENDER BOOK REVIEW
Once upon a time in Southside, Queens, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson was born. Today, even your grandmother probably knows about him and his music, and she probably has an opinion on him, too. He has become a mainstream icon in the past few years as he redefined entrepreneurialism in the music industry, by releasing a major motion picture, a video game, a clothing line, sneakers, diamond-encrusted watches, and even endorsed a vitamin water, among other ventures. 2005 was a very productive year for the G-Unit General. Except the most insightful, revealing, and satisfying product to come off the Gorilla Unit assembly line was arguably 50 Cent's autobiography: "From Pieces To Weight". It's a vivid and detailed journey through the early life of Curtis "Boo" Jackson (as he was known in Queens, when he was a low-level crack dealer) and the struggles and triumphs he overcame to get rich before he died trying.
Co-written by kris ex (former Source writer, and esteemed hip hop journalist), 'From Pieces to Weight' captures the hustler's ambitions of 50 Cent much better than the screenplay does, and to be honest, even better than the debut album 'Get Rich or Die Trying'. In my opinion, it is the best product ever released by 50 Cent, period. Whether the impact of the compelling writing is embellished by kris ex, or simply edited by him while 50 Cent expresses the depths of his emotional being, the writing style in the book is surprisingly impressive. Critics who charge 50 Cent with accusations of lyrical simplicity could not have their criticisms validated by the content of the book - as one would think of a man who became a multi-millionaire within a year, 50 Cent is much smarter than people think. He reveals a thorough awareness of the legal system, New York City, drugs and chemicals, pugilism, motor vehicles of all kinds, the music industry, the many religions of Earth, the peculiarities of human nature, negotiating power, and many of the other intangible pieces of wisdom that separate the victors from the victims of life. From the first moment he was handed a crack rock to sell, to his purchase of a brand-new Mercedez Benz right off the lot with a duffel bag of cash (as re-enacted in the movie), the book details the difficult path 50 Cent took to reach the heights of where he is now. For instance, In 1988, the death of a rookie police officer in Queens was the catalyst that sparked an unprecedented wave of anti-crime initiatives in New York City, and helped push Nancy and Ronald Reagan's so-called "War On Drugs" into high gear across the country. This is how 50 Cent describes that moment in time: "Without jobs, all the crackdown did was to help create a more resourceful, resilient breed of drug dealer. If the 'hood was cocaine, then the rookie cop's murder was the baking soda. And an angry police force was the fire that cooked up new hustlers. Hustlers like me." 'Nuff said.
50 Cent's boxing career is outlined very well in the book, a fact strangely absent from his big-screen debut. He sees the gym as his third home, besides his grandmother's house (where he lived after his mother was murdered), and Guy Brewer Boulevard, where he spent so much time dealing crack and earning money that he would neglect proper hygiene and nutrition. "Passionate" and "committed" are two words that could describe any activity 50 Cent participates in, in this book, from selling crack to exercising to spite his sado-masochistic drill sergeant. He grew his rep in Queens as a street fighter and shooter before he was a rapper, and he tells multiple stories of intimidation, humiliation, manipulation, robbery, assault, and broad daylight murder done by gentlemen with names like 'Guns' and 'Butter' and 'Amenhotep'. He really was caught with crack in his socks at school, and was sent to the Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, the military-like shock program that kept 50 Cent from a normal jail sentence. He seems to delight in describing the inhumanely disciplined work regimen that must have helped inspire his current military-like organization of his music crew and record label. His writing goes from comedic - "Derrick was like, 'Man, fuck that! Boo, go get the gun out the car!' I ran to the hooptie but couldn't find anything. I found Jimmy Hoffa's remains, the holy grail, and documentations of alien abductions - but no gun." to unintentionally thought-provoking: "The real 50 Cent was a stick-up kid from Brooklyn who used to rob rappers. He had passed, but his name was respected on the streets, so I wanted to keep his name alive. Other rappers were running around calling themselves Al Capone and John Gotti and Pablo Escobar. If I was going to take a gangster's name, then I wanted it to be that of someone who would say "what's up" to me on the street if we ever crossed paths. I couldn't see Gotti or Escobar giving me the time of day."
Also, Chapter 21 is one page long, yet it is the page that describes the infamous 50 Cent shooting that has virtually joined the JFK Assassination and the murder of John Lennon in terms of legendary status in American history. His time in the hospital recuperating is chronicled by expressing his deep feelings of distrust and anger. He explains in crystal clear detail how betrayed he felt by Columbia Records to whom he was signed at the time, and what motivated him to stop selling crack, and start selling rap. He talks about first meeting each member of G-Unit, and what he thought at the time. The moment he met the mother of his son, and the situations that led to the birth of his child are all told here as well, and it makes for the most educational understanding of who, what, why, and how the 50 Cent phenomenon came to life as we know it today.
Of all the products the 50 Cent/G-Unit name is attached to, the most interesting one is the Curtis Jackson autobiography, 'From Pieces to Weight'. From the hip hop head who hates to read books to the literary reviewer who is absolutely unconcerned with anything involved with so-called 'gangsta rap', this book will enlighten all those who peruse its pages from cover to cover. If the movie 'Get Rich or Die Trying' was based on this book, an entirely more satisfying screenplay would have been brought to life. Who would have thought you could learn so much from a former crack dealer?
by Addi "Mindbender" Stewart