ABC News’ Dan Harris and Alex Waterfield report:
We’re used to seeing Bono or Angelina on humanitarian trips to Africa, but 50 Cent?
The rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, recently became a large, and unlikely, donor to the United Nations’ World Food Program, and joined U.N. officials on a trip to Somalia.
“This is exciting,” he said. “I mean, according to the (security) briefing, it’s pretty dangerous, but I told him, ‘we don’t get briefings in the environment that I come from, and it can be pretty dangerous there also.”
This is the man who was famously shot nine times — as dramatized in the movie, “Get Rich or Die Tryin” — went from being a crack dealer to No. 2 on Forbes list of richest black entertainers and raps about bedding women and drinking champagne.
Now he volunteers to help in one of the most lawless and dangerous places on Earth. 50 Cent also launched a new line of energy drinks, called Street King,” in which $0.10 of every bottle sold will go toward feeling children all over the world.
As we flew into Somalia with the rapper, it became clear that this was, in essence, a mogul’s midlife crisis.
“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.”
After landing, we were quickly loaded into a convoy, led by a truck full of armed men, and were taken to a refugee camp, filled with women and children, many of whom had walked for weeks to escape the drought and war.
As 50 Cent watched babies’ arms be measured so medical professionals could see the extent of their malnourishment, the rapper, who sold drugs at age 12 on the mean streets of South Queens, never knew his father, and whose mother, a drug dealer, was murdered when he was a child, was at an utter loss for words.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Watching 50 Cent peer into a makeshift hut, interact with school children who only get one meal a day, it struck me that this is a man whose personality is very different from his persona.
While his book, “The 50th law,” and often violent rap lyrics talk about being tough in a cold, hard world, 50 Cent doesn’t drink or smoke, he meditates with Deepak Chopra, he owned a 4-pound dog named Oprah that he liked to dress up and lives in a mansion alone in Connecticut.
And now “the Hip-Hop Bono,” as his manager called him, is in Africa helping children.
“This is the next chapter in my life,” 50 Cent said of the Somalia trip. “I don’t care if my audience is prepared to move forward with me, they may not necessarily be growing at the same pace. Some of them will understand it and other will turn their nose up at it, but who cares?”