50 Cent, the television star? Who would have guessed.
And yet, here we are. In a world where 50 Cent matters more on TV then he does musically. Over the last two years, 50 was the driving force behind two of cable’s most promising shows: the very popular drama Power (on STARZ) and the reality show Dream School, which airs on SundanceTV.
The Dream School premise is simple: it follows 15 high school dropouts who are trying to graduate. And on their road to success, they’re taught by various celebrity mentors, ranging from director Oliver Stone to super producer Swizz Beatz.
Season two of the show kicks off tonight, and this season, the show shifts cities from L.A. to New York City.
On the eve of the premiere, we talked to 50 Cent himself, who discussed his past experience in school, releasing Power of a Dollar (his unreleased debut album), and other shows he has planned for the future.
Check out the interview below.
Before this show started, what was your opinion of school?
I did well in school, up to the 11th grade, and then I had to get my GED…because I didn’t want to be in school. It would have taken longer for me to catch up…to get the credits to get out, because I had got in trouble.
A lot of the kids receiving an opportunity here — it ties back to what I’ve been doing a long time. In 2005, I established the G-Unity foundation. We focused on underserved communities and low-income areas and academic categories. We provided financials for other no-profit organizations to actually make it happen.
During the show, did you encounter a kid that reminded you of yourself?
Nah, not really. Well, one of them really had a passion for music. I just didn’t have that at that point in my life. Like, I hadn’t developed that early.
It took me till when I was outta school. There were no requirements for music. And it had an upside that could be big enough for me if it worked properly. And then I had to develop what it was going to be — what it was going to be about. Even in choosing your name, you choose something that’s going to be common, something everyone’s going to be aware of.
I started to put thoughts in those things for marketing purposes, and then the first album title I came up with was Power of the Dollar, and I stayed next to finance because…the largest restraint for me growing up was financial restraint. We didn’t have the money. It came back around full circle when I did Animal Ambition, which was explaining all the positives and negatives that come with success.
This been a cool experience for me, though. I just think projects like this we can make bigger. We can have more.
I would like to have it on more than one network, or to have it in more than one area at a time. Like, Dream School New York and Dream School L.A…if it’s happening at the same time, then it’s thirty kids.
What would you tell a kid who says he or she wants to drop out of school and become a rapper?
No, you don’t. Our culture says it ain’t about money, it ain’t about nothing, right? So why would you drop out when the stats say you would make a million more in your lifetime if you graduate? You want to focus on your writing and following the culture and doing what you have to do while going to school. You want to do both. In this climate, you have the ability to have the hit. What you want is your own YouTube channel. You want to make in-studio videos of yourself performing your music and posting that on your YouTube channel into something connects.
The reason why our culture is different now is no artist development. I thought I was ready in 1997. I was ready then, if you asked me. But I got bumped around until 2003. And by then, I developed into a real songwriter. From ’97 to ’98, I was working with Jam Master Jay on music; then I signed with the Trackmasters in ’99; “How to Rob” came out; I got shot May 2000; I went away, came back 2002; and by 2003, I had Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
If we can agree Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a 10 album, what would you say Power of the Dollar is?
Power of the Dollar? That shit was raw. I wasn’t out the street…I was still in the street…
I love that album.
I may go back and re-vocal and re-release it. I may even revisit the production; update it with the same producers. I would get everyone to revisit their work. Bring it to right now.
This is really your first move in TV, right?
No. Just reality TV. I got a show Power on the STARZ network. I got a HBO show picked up. You’ll be seeing something new from me on MTV. I got something coming on Comedy Central, an animated show. I’ve been working. On the television front, I’ve been able to get it done.
How much does music still interest you?
I listen to it. I love and I get the chance to hear it from a fan’s perspective. And I get out there, and shake them up before I take a seat in the back. I’ll go and make a run, and everyone will see me and then fall back and start producing new artists. Because I still want to be a part of the culture, but it’s for me to help acts and things that’s going to happen next in our culture.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty