Boxing Insider Exclusive Interview with 50-Cent
BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
I am so far removed from pop-culture, it’s pitiful. My foundations (for those of you who know me) are well laid and stern to the point of outright deafening indifference . . . especially when it comes to boxing . . and music.
But fuck all that, that’s my problem.
So, with an intro like the above reads, I gotta say, when I was assigned an interview with 50-Cent, I had no clue who the man was.
Call me morbid, call me pale, call me a victim of pugilistic dementia, but I must say, speaking to this man was an interesting experience. I was beyond impressed with his smarts, his sense of humor, his accomplishments and his future plans.
Despite my hardheaded “opinions” when it comes to the music that pops up randomly on my i-pod, as people go, 50-Cent was, and is, a super class act, and deserves all the accolades he gets.
Read on folk of the fist…
Phil Anselmo: Who were some of your sports idols growing up?
50-Cent: “One of my favorite fighters growing up was Michael Nunn. I also like Pernell Whittaker, Meldrick Taylor and Michael Moorer.”
Phil Anselmo: All unique champions, loved ‘em all too.
50-Cent: “It (boxing) was very exciting in that actual period. Of course I had seen boxing prior to that, but that was at the point where I would actually be in the gym myself, so I had a little more passion and I paid attention a little more at that point.”
Phil Anselmo: What’s your earliest boxing memory?
50-Cent: “My earliest boxing memory is being with my grandfather. I would watch fights when he was really into it, ‘cause he’s the one who actually turned me onto it. It was like he couldn’t actually get around when he was watching it at the house, or something was going on, but everybody would stop and watch with him. So that was like early Mike Tyson, when he was first coming up in the ranks. We would watch Mike and it was right after that, we would watch a lot of the older fights. Muhammad Ali was the first super star in my house.
Phil Anselmo: Who were some of your music idols growing up?
50-Cent: “It was hard to escape Michael Jackson. He was a star since he was so young… I think he bridged the gap between age demographics, because of how early he was an actual star. His audience grew with him, and the younger audience followed the older fans. As far as the actual performances were concerned, he always brought something to the table that was really well put together. Before I really decided to enjoy Hip Hop culture, I was still watching what was going on in music, and what Michael was doing was obviously one of those things that stood out.
“It was exciting because I actually had him reach out to me before he passed away to record. We ended up recording the record after he passed, the music tracks were previously laid down, and there was a song called “Monster”, which was in his mind, his new version of “Thriller”. We had conversations before he passed away, and I got to go into the studio and record it with Teddy Riley.”
Do you see any parallels between music and boxing on a business level?
50-Cent: “Well yes. In the past the majority of the record companies were run continuously. Artists would come up and be really exciting at certain points and eventually go through that cycle of entertainment. Then, they (record companies) built entertainment to destroy them (the artists) for the sake of entertainment. And as you go up, and keep going up in an artist’s career, there’s no place to go but down shortly thereafter. And if you look at some of those older artists that are so talented, then ask yourself, ‘What happened to them?’ or ‘Why aren’t they still recording?’ or ‘Why aren’t they still exciting to the general public?’, it’s because the public follows that system. The shadow of doubt is cast over artists and music culture at different points. You have to be independent in order to work things out through that shadow. Because it’s this system that decides who is relevant, and companies have to see if they’re gonna continue to market and promote the actual projects anymore.
“And it’s the same with fighters; they’ll grow up and they’ll see some excitement around them and they’re having their moment, but in boxing if there is no opponent, the general public will make one for you. If a guy happens to be a shining star in his weight class, there’ll be another fighter that may have a great performance in the same division, so that guy will be perceived as the guy that can beat the shining star. And the public and press will make the challenger as relevant as you, because the star fighter needs to fight!
“And like music culture is to boxing, you’re only as exciting as your last hit record, or in boxing/music terms, your last performance or fight.”
Phil Anselmo: I know you’ve done some amateur boxing, so do you see any parallels between boxing and life in general?
50-Cent: “When I look at boxing in my life, there are a lot of parallels to it. It takes a lot of discipline in order for you to be successful. Usually, if you’re working in an area that you’re extremely passionate about, you have that focus, without it seeming like a huge sacrifice, or, it doesn’t seem like a lot of work because you’ve got the passion. Most fighters have tunnel vision. They have that complete focus on the actual sport itself, which is why at the end of lot of fighter’s careers, they realize, they haven’t been conscience of their finances because of this focus. You see successful fighters… almost all of them have had financial troubles in the end. And this is what makes me attracted to the sport, because my business is the branding extension.
“This is attractive to fighters because they are conscious enough to understand that fighters like George Foreman made more money selling his grills than actually boxing. So these young boxers want to be able to open the possibilities of these actual opportunities that are possible to come their way if they associate themselves with me. I’m around a lot of these type deals. Some of them, I pass on because it doesn’t feel organic to me. I don’t do things that don’t directly relate to my lifestyle, but they may match a fighter’s lifestyle, so there may be a deal there I can actually make for them.”
Phil Anselmo: You are successful businessman, and musician… which do you consider yourself more of?
50-Cent: “Well without music I wouldn’t have the ability to be in business. The opportunity to be in business came with the finances from music and the notoriety that comes with being successful as an artist. So I see myself as an artist first, but I’m absolutely conscious of business. Technology changes the actual way people consume music, meaning they’re buying the download as opposed to going to the store to buy the physical CD’s. About 70% of today’s music sales are bought online.
“I see record companies shift also, because they’re not making the $19.99 per disc that they’re selling the full-length CD for because it’s $7.99 now online and the $4.99 or $6.99 they’d sell a single for, is now $.99. So you have to match-up with the timelines of major corporations’ launching campaigns the artist can be connected to, so it creates that strong visibility that was once provided by the actual record company in marketing monies. Now, it’s a collaboration between major corporations and the company themselves.
“Meaning, now the mainstream artist has become a complete marketing vehicle.
“In my new music video featuring Eminem and Adam Levine called “My Life”, if you look close, there’s a Chrysler in the video that isn’t even on the market yet, so Chrysler provides marketing dollars.”
Phil Anselmo: Correct me if I’m wrong, but the name 50-Cent means that you, yourself, have been through a positive change in your life?
50-Cent: “That’s correct.”
Phil Anselmo: For the youngsters out there that might read this, considering the hardships of growing up without parental guidance, or/and also the temptations of the entire “thug mentality” that is so prevalent these days in pop culture, what makes you, and has made you, strive for that “change” and positivity in your life?
50-Cent: “What makes me strive is the fact that I come from those surroundings and all of its scenarios, and I’ve made it to the point where I’ve made it to. It makes me a symbol … it makes me more than an actual artist, it makes me representation of hope. It makes me someone these kids can use as an example that they can do things in life in a different way. They don’t necessarily have to follow the regiment of the things going on right in front of them in the neighborhood. They can be passionate about something else and actually make it. If they don’t like the cards they’ve been dealt, they can put the cards back and shuffle them again and pick new cards. They don’t necessarily have to stay in that rut.
“Yesterday, I spent time at CNN Heroes, and went to an awards show. I presented an award to a guy named Thulani Madondo, and he’s from Kiptown, South Africa. He did everything he could to get himself a high school education, and then afterwards he started a program where he was able to provide the ability for some of the kids in his town to receive finances to get into schools, buy uniforms and he created an after-school program where he’s able to help 400-kids get their education. These kids get a chance to feel the warmth of opportunity.
“It’s amazing because in the cities, when you’re in low-income housing, you feel like you have nothing to lose, but you have so much more than people in other territories that have grown up under harsher circumstances. You just have to make these kids aware. If I knew these things when I was growing up, I would have probably taken a different route, or put different options in my head of which ways to go (in life), so I wouldn’t have had to make so many mistakes before I found the direction I really wanted to go in.”
Phil Anselmo: Man, you know I have to ask you something about Floyd Mayweather Jr.…
Phil Anselmo:Do you see him fighting a Manny Pacquiao, or a Sergio Martinez in his damn career, ever?
50-Cent: “Well, I’m not sure he’ll actually take either fight, because he’s conscious of someone else’s finances, not necessarily how much he’s making. The concept of an opponent making more than they’d usually make by fighting him, Floyd thinks it’s because of him. Floyd is completely stuck in that area. I tried to get him to concentrate on how much he’s making, because it makes logical sense for him to take the fights that can be made to put himself in a great financial state, but he’s conscious of that.
“I’ll just say that right now, he’s following in the tradition of successful fighters that are not generating any income away from boxing. The regiment of, fight-get-the-money, spend-the-money, fight, get-the-money, spend-the-money, is consuming him. So when there’s not another fight in front of him, there’s going to be no money.”
Phil Anselmo: Ok bro, to end this thing I’ll plainly ask you, where do you see Floyd Mayweather Jr. 20-years from now?
50-Cent: “I don’t see him in a good financial state 20-years from now . . . (long pause) . . . unless he makes some adjustments.”
Phil Anselmo: Thanks daddy-O… and good luck!
50-Cent: “OK, thanks Phil, peace.”
I wanna give a special thanks to 50-Cent and his team. Cool motherfucker. Class-act all the way around, and I hope he can bring some good to this awesome sport of ours.
I bid him damn-good luck!
– Philip H. Anselmo is the singer and song writer for multiple Heavy Metal acts (Pantera/Down/SJR/Arson Anthem) and the new Down EP will be out this Fall 2012. And watch for Philip’s solo record, “Philip H. Anselmo: ‘Walk Through Exits Only’, out later this year, or early next. Also keep up with Anselmo’s record label, housecore records at thehousecorerecords.com.