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The 11 best 50 Cent songs

Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are 11 of our favourite 50 cent songs, ranked

Everyone remembers where they were when ‘In Da Club’ first dropped. A song so ubiquitous, it is to birthdays as, well, what ‘Happy Birthday’ is to birthdays. I was five, and it’s safe to say 50 Cent’s debut single, his wider catalogue, his G-Unit collective and his omnipresence across stories in pop culture have shaped my generation’s relationship to hip hop.

Going bar for bar with Eminem in his prime, backed by the production of Dr. Dre, and having just survived nine gunshot wounds, 50 Cent ushered in a wave of hip hop that combined real-life gang-affiliated storytelling with light moments of clubbing and luxury lifestyle choices. Since his 2003 debut, the rapper-turned-mogul has executively produced the ever-sprawling Power Book TV series, founded his label G-Unit Records, traversed genres, created an energy drink, come back from bankruptcy, and continues to tour worldwide. Ahead of his UK arena tour in November, we ranked his top 11 songs.

11. ‘Just A Lil Bit’

(The Massacre, 2005)

Kicking off our list is the third single from 50’s sophomore album, The Massacre. Riding the success of his seminal debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, the album proved to be just as era-defining as its predecessor, boasting features from Jamie Foxx, frequent collaborator The Game, and many familiar G-Unit favourites. While, yes, The Massacre has ‘Candy Shop’, ‘Disco Inferno’ and more, ‘Just A Lil Bit’ best showcases the rapper’s ability to be more sensual and playful while still maintaining the hard exterior of his delivery. Plus, that video, with the rapper flexing his acting skills as a cartel boss that leaves a 50 dollar bill behind as his calling card, is so 00s level of ridiculous there was no other way to kick off this top 11.

10. ‘How To Rob’

(In Too Deep, 1999)

An early deep cut, 1999’s ‘How To Rob’ from the soundtrack of In Too Deep, starring LL Cool J, Omar Epps and Stanley Tucci. Officially the rapper‘s first commercial single from the initial project intended to be his debut (shelved due to legal trouble), ‘How To Rob’ displays the quick wit of the rapper’s pen – the lyrics mischievously detail how he would rob prominent figures in the music industry including Stevie J, Lil’ Kim, Keith Sweat, DMX, Mike Tyson, Foxy Brown, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and even gospel artist Kirk Franklin. All apparently written on a quick car journey to the studio. What is even more of a flex is that many of the artists listed on the track have become some of 50 Cent’s collaborators, including Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott and Juvenile. Way to manifest, Curtis.

9. ‘Straight To The Bank’

(Curtis, 2007)

A serial agitator, 50 intros the song with his all-too-familiar laugh, ready to show haters and fans alike that no matter what happens, he’s “laughing straight to the bank”. His laugh turns into the playful, borderline-camp hook of the song, and like all of his singles before, instantly makes its mark in popular culture – so much that it was a regular line delivered by the title character in the Nollywood film, Igwe 2pac. (A personal favourite)

Making it in Hollywood is one thing, making it across all the “woods” of the world is another. If anything, ‘Straight To The Bank’ earns a top-10 spot for it’s ubiquity alone.

8. ‘I’m Supposed To Die Tonight’

(The Massacre, 2005)

Another, but more somber, entry from The Massacre, coming in at number eight is ‘I’m Supposed To Die Tonight’. A human with nine lives, surviving nine gunshots, and multiple attempts to quell his voice – ‘I’m Supposed To Die Tonight’ shows 50 Cent’s storytelling ability in full swing. Confessional, vulnerable, deeply honest – but still with delivered with the cutthroat razor-sharp wit we know and love.

7. ‘How We Do’

(The Documentary, 2005)

Cast your mind back to early 2000s MTV Shows: Cribs, MTV Spring Break, and my personal favourite, Pimp My Ride. And nothing quite pimps a ride like putting “Lamborghini Doors on that Escalade”. While this song is a 50 Cent Feature, the conversational braggadocios back-and-forth between himself and fellow rapper The Game has earnt the song a place on this list. Who could forget 50 driving down the street in an Escalade with Lamborghini doors in the music video? Boasting his background, his achievements and proving (racist) naysayers wrong, “they say I’m no good / ’cause I’m so hood….bougie ass b*tches / you can kiss my ass”.

6. ‘Hustler’s Ambition’

(Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ – Soundtrack, 2005)

Not only is this one of 50 Cent’s best lyrical performances, ‘Hustler’s Ambition’ is a testament to the rapper’s cultural impact and a nod to his future as an entertainment mogul. Ambition is the word indeed, as the song details aspects of the rapper’s difficulties before his music career, but also features on the soundtrack for the movie based on his debut album and life story. A Russian doll of a single, ‘Hustler’s Ambition’ earns its place on our top 11 for demonstrating a Wu-Tang-esque no holds barred delivery, with a Frankie Beverly and Maze sample, and a gritty pre-fame hunger.

5. ‘P.I.M.P.’

(Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 2003)

Guided by the lilting Caribbean-inspired steelpan riff throughout, our top five is scored by ‘P.I.M.P.’ – which boasted a remix with none other than Snoop Dogg himself – the Mr. Porter produced track shows off the rapper’s range, calling back to his ‘How To Rob’ playfulness whilst indulging in a Bad Boy records-esque fantasy of glamour, excess, luxury and wealth. A welcome moment of light in an album with brutal moments of shade.

4. ‘Hate It Or Love it’

(The Documentary, 2005)

Another entry from The Game’s The Documentary, ‘Hate It Or Love it’ is the stronger offering from the duo, celebrating both of their rags-to-riches stories over a sample of the 1972 song, ‘Rubber Band’ by The Trammps. Calling back early hip hop samples of 70s funk to create Compton G-funk, the song is an instant classic; less focused on proving haters wrong or tongue-in-cheek disses to the entire music industry, but a straight-to-the-bone delivery of both rappers’ triumphs over adversity. The single went on to earn Best Rap Song and Best Rap Collaboration at the 2006 Grammys, and is still some of their finest work to date.

3. ‘21 Questions’

(Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 2003)

The duality of man is being able to rap about travelling everywhere in a bulletproof vest on one song, but being able to deliver a hip hop/R&B crooner about loving your partner for better or worse on another. Featuring the smooth, distinctive vocals of the late Nate Dogg, 50 asks his romantic interest a multitude of very valid Hinge prompts: if I wrote you a love letter, would you write back?; if I didn’t smell so good, would you still hug me?; Do you trust me enough to tell me your dreams? – I’d honestly replace all of my future wedding vows with the lyrics of ‘21 Questions’.

2. ‘In Da Club’

(Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 2003)

Of course, we could not make a top 11 without ‘In Da Club’. For 20 years, “go shawty, it’s ya birthday” has been the soundtrack at birthday parties, Friday nights in packed clubs, weddings, office parties, a regular Tuesday – you name it. To have such a cultural impact, so young, so early in his career, on his debut single is unprecedented. Brash, cocky and laidback, 50 Cent delivers ‘In Da Club’ with an ease that only he possesses.

1. ‘Many Men (Wish Death)’

(Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 2003)

There aren’t many songs that can turn any group of grown men into a choir quite like ‘Many Men (Wish Death)’. The top of our list for many reasons; ‘Many Men (Wish Death)’ is the essence of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. A young man, from an inner city neighbourhood, with the odds stacked against him, speaking on the brutality he’s both witnessed and experienced. 50’s earnest delivery of the hook brings everyone together, and provides a voice for many young Black men from similar backgrounds, trying to make the best of their situation, whilst living in very violent, over-policed neighbourhoods. The best of 50 Cent comes with his truth, and his ability to stay authentic regardless of the change in his income and circumstances.

50 Cent starts his UK tour on 9 Nov. Find 50 Cent tickets here.