His early teens were stormy especially because Jackson chose to follow in his mothers footsteps and began dealing in narcotics on the streets of Queens, New York. He made a name for himself as a prosperous drug dealer, and soon found himself getting in and out of trouble with the law. On June 29, 1994, Jackson was arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover cop. Jackson changed his name to 50 cent, which is a metaphor for change.
In 1996, a friend to Jam master Jay of Run-DMC introduced Jackson and this was his first time ever in a studio. Jay taught him some of the basics like how to structure songs, write choruses, count bars, and make a record. While teaching Jackson and helping him hone his skills, Jay signed him to his JMJ Records music label. Although Jackson didn’t meet with success while with JMJ records, he surely got all the exposure he needed.
Sometime later, Jackson’s rhyme styles got attention from the New York-based platinum music producers, the Trackmasters and by 1999 they had signed him to their Columbia Records sub-label. With a gifted production team to back him up, 50 cents made his debut album, Power Of a Dollar. It was never released due to reasons unknown but a single track How To Rob from the same album got him the much needed recognition.
The spring of 2000 came with a shock when Jackson was gunned down in front of his home. During the recovery period, things went from bad to worse as Columbia Records dropped him. After a prolonged recovery process, Jackson mustered enough courage and determination to take him back to the studio where he recorded new material with producer and business partner, Sha Money XL. The tracks found their way into the streets of New York through mix tapes and two self-released albums. The albums were named Guess Who’s Back and 50 Cent Is The Future. Once Slim Shady publicly announced his appreciation for Jackson’s talent, record companies lined up in front of his home to sign him up.
Soon after 50 Cent signed a record contract for $1 million on Eminem’s Shady Records and Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records. Although it looked like an overnight success story but 50 cent had to earn it with his life.