50 Cent is solidifying his multimedia turf.
His video game, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, comes out Feb. 24, followed by his album Before I Self Destruct in March. And he just wrapped filming for another movie, 13, due in 2010, a remake of the crime drama (with Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham) that won the 2006 Grand Jury award at the Sundance Film Festival. On location in Yonkers, N.Y., USA TODAY's Mike Snider talked with 50 Cent about video games, music and his life.
Q: How do video games fit into your career in music and films? A: Video games became more important as touring came, because there was the tour bus and you have several people there at the same time — and the option of reading a book, because you are on airplanes for a long time. So those two things became exciting at the same time. That's why I established G-Unit Books and I went into games. … In the future, (people) should look forward to me being a part of video games that I'm not actually starring in, a game as entertaining as Centipede was for me. And Pac-Man. You didn't always need eight buttons. (In the Atari days) it was a joystick and a button. I want to get back to that. Let's simplify things a little bit. (Eminem) has got all of this in his studio, the arcade stuff. He will go, 'I bet you can't beat me at Ms. Pac-Man.' He still wants to play that.
Q: You play games with your son (Marquise, 12), right? A: He's better than me. I don't know how this is happening. He just whips me repeatedly. I'd rather play (the game myself) before I even let him see it. Then, for a little while, it will be exciting because I will be beating him. We talk while we play. He says things like I would say and I'm, 'You're not supposed to say that, I'm supposed to say that.'
Q: Do you think video games have gained stature in entertainment? A: Yes, when you've got major film companies going, 'I'm not sure we should come out this week because this game is.' Even the music business feels an effect when those titles come out.
Q: What do you think of the latest music-based games? A: I played (Rock Band) at MTV. It turned into a karaoke session. I usually don't sing rock records, but I knew a couple of the records. It was a real comedic moment. (G-Unit's) Tony (Yayo) was actually playing the drums. … I want some of my music in there. It should be all music.
Q: Tell us about your new album. A: It is dark. The content is more dysfunctional, and it makes my imperfections more visible than anything I have released so far. I'm in a secure-enough space to put my imperfections out there. Usually artists in the hip-hop genre create these people who have everything financially and are tough and everything else you think a superhero would actually be. The way I see it, the art form is becoming a little less effective because those artists aren't really writing their true experience. I felt like Before I Self Destruct is really the closing of that chapter for me as an artist, and I will start to write things that are representative of my new space.
Q: Who's working with you on this album? A: Because of what it is conceptually, I stayed to myself a bit more. But I worked with both Em and (Dr.) Dre throughout. I developed what would become Before I Self Destruct before I released my third album, Curtis. So I had enough time to write, produce and direct a film (also called Before I Self Destruct, on DVD included with the CD) that I felt showed a little more cause-and-effect than the average song. (In a three-minute song) I can't give you reasoning for these actions or what a person is thinking when these things are happening. … I took the dysfunction and nature of the things I saw around me and placed them in the characters.
Q: What drives you to do these wide-ranging projects? A: For me, I'm running through a tunnel that won't end. Ambition is that tunnel. For people who are ambitious, there will never be an actual end to them wanting to be successful or move to the next level. And I think we are all conditioned to want things we don't need. As soon as we can afford the house that costs $300,000, we want the one that costs $500,000. That's just the way it is.