Poor 50 Cent

A little over a week ago, I had the rare occasion to catch 20/20 with Juju Chang. I am hardly ever up at that hour of the evening, given that my day light hours are spent directing the raucous circus that is my home.

As soon as my ancient television finished booting up that evening, I was greeted with the sight of 50 Cent in a button down shirt in a village. Ei. It looked like Africa. Well I’ll be. 50 Cent had travelled to Somalia!

I was intrigued – mesmerized almost. I’m not accustomed to American rappers traveling to Africa to do good, although many do. We just rarely hear about it. A few years ago I remember reading about Wu Tang Clan’s visit to West Africa and their being affected by the sight of orphaned children with missing limbs – limbs that had been chopped off by savage war lords during the Sierra Leone conflict. One of the members of the group refused to get out of the vehicle for the visit.

“I ain’t going in there man. I ain’t.”

I can’t remember who it was that uttered those words, but I clearly read the pain in his quote. He couldn’t bear the sight of children who had had so much brutally ripped from them in a war that they had no control over. It’s enough to break the hardest of men down.

So I was pleased to see Fiddy in Africa. I took it as a sign that he is maturing, and I cheer unabashedly any time a Black man takes strides to grow up. Apparently, the purveyors of popular culture aren’t so eager to see this side of our most prolific hip-hop entertainers.

“Don’t you worry that your fans will not embrace this side of you?” asked the reporter that was trailing 50. “Won’t it affect your image?”

He referenced at least three times (that I counted) that 50 had been shot 9 times, had it dramatized in film, and came from a very gritty past. This was his image, after all, and showing a softer side my corrode that.

He replied that he didn’t care what his fans are willing to accept, in terms of his charity work.

“I want to be more, not just an artist, but as a person,” 50 Cent said. “My legacy, what’s left behind, I don’t want to be a guy who’s just remembered for writing a few decent songs.”

  I smiled in the darkness. My pleasure was immediately snatched from me when this utterance was dismissed as a “midlife crisis” from “hip-hop’s Bono.” With all due respect to Bono, he does not have a monopoly on kindness and philanthropy. Is 50 Cent not a man? Does he not possess the right to reinvent, hell, even improve himself as he sees fit? Is he always to remain 50 Cent the gangster, the womanizer, the boy ne’er does well?

I never thought that I would find myself sympathizing with 50 Cent of all people. I recently had the opportunity to interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide. My Nana Darkoa (my BFFFL) and I were asked to discuss our Adventures blog. It came up that I was married to a man with a position in the church, and there was consternation concerning a supposed “double life” I was leading. (I don’t broadcast that I write for a sex and relationship blog within the four walls of my church, you understand.)

“Aren’t you bothered by this double life you’re leading?” asked Jonathan, the interviewer.

“Uh…no,” I replied simply. “I’m a very complex human being, you see.”

He laughed, and I joined him. What I really wanted to say was: “Puh-leeze. Have you been to a Southern church lately? They’re all crawling with children. Don’t let Christians try to convince you that we’re not having sex! I’m just writing about the sex that they ARE having.”

Good thing I have a modicum of restraint.

The bottom line is that we have to allow people the freedom to grow and change. That’s what separates us from animals. The problem with Africans – and their descendants in the Diaspora – is that for so long we have not been allowed to define our culture or personhood for ourselves. So when a church going woman with a deacon husband, four kids and an old CR-V writes sensual fiction for a blog about African women, foreign entities are confused. The proper place for this woman is in quiet repose, reading her Bible and serving her husband. And when a rapper from a broken home and a violent past eschews the calamity of that history and uses his wits and fortune to do good, it is alarming to those same entities. This is not the script that the world has designed for either character!

Screw your script.

Happy Independence Day.

  • Rasheeda

    Funny you should mention 50 cent…I had that same moment with him about this time last year. He acted (I know- hold the laughter)and executive produced a movie, Things Fall Apart, that I saw at the Atl FIlm Festival. He truly surprised me, his performance was real and palpable in a way I did not expect from him. I think the movie and the charity work are more of who he is, more so than the gun shot wounds and the misguided songs. I say all that to say, I love when people surprise me. When I can’t figure someone out in 2 minutes, it makes them unique and interesting, it makes them human. That’s what makes for a real connection with people.

  • EXACTLY! I’m so glad you feel me! I wish I could say it more eloquently, but there it is. I remember the controversy surrounding that film, because Chinua Achebe wanted him to change the title because he has a book with the same title, but I never heard anything about it after that. That’s my poin tthough! It’s terribly unfair when we try to paint people in little corners and refuse to let them out. Good for 50. I will probably wait for the film to come out on Redbox to see it, but I’m pleased that he did well.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to step away so I can go have that laugh you asked me to hold.

  • NM

    I thought it was a spoof when I saw the heading to the article online. I was so surprised at how normal, sensitive and shy he seemed. Those aren’t words I’d associate with 50 Cent. People evolve. A line from India Arie’s song ‘I Am Not My Hair’ sums it up nicely for me: ‘I am not your expectations no…’ I believe that for myself and try to extend that courtesy to others.

  • siaj won

    A bit late..but Happy Independence day Ghana!Lol @ Bono not having a monopoly on kindness and philanthropy…Kudos to 50 cent evolving to be a dollar and making an impact..:)I loved it when Steve Jobs mentioned at a Stanford’s commencement speech about “dogma” i.e. refusing to get burdened by dogma,the results of other peoples thinking(paraphrased).My friend, there are stars and there is sand..you stand out or you blend in.It is a personal choice.You are a star no doubt so “puhleeeeze” would have been appropriate to his qn…lol

  • Enyinnaya

    and when Madonna and Angelina Joilie goes to Africa to adopt kids the feel they are doing good what of those the leave behind?