It's been 10 years since Get Rich Or Die Tryin propelled Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson from mixtape obscurity to multimillionaire cultural icon. The autobiographical nature of his writing delivered an authenticity die hard rap fans and casual listeners gravitated to. "Fifty's" story was so full of doubt, sorrow, and hopelessness that risking your life to escape it seemed like a reasonable choice.
"Get rich or die tryin" wasn't a new proposition. It was the articulation of the desperation necessary to subscribe to this mantra. 50 wasn't a pioneer; he just made his declaration outloud for the world to hear. I've compiled lyrics from the song "Many Men" to show how this mindset is cultivated and ultimately accepted as a creed. Society's mistake in trying to understand this type of music is best summed up by a Wesley Snipes line from the movie White Men Can't Jump: They listened to the music but didn't hear it.
Here's a quote from "Many Men":
Many men, many, many, many, many men
Wish death 'pon me
Lord I don't cry no more
Don't look to the sky no more
Have mercy on me
Have mercy on my soul
Somewhere my heart turned cold
Have mercy on many men
Many, many, many, many men
Wish death upon me
The catharsis in these lyrics are drowned out by the violence that surrounds them. The message loses its meaning when violence sticks out so much further than pain. Again, a quote from the same song: