Something is different about 50 Cent. Four hours before the rapper takes the stage at this year's first Hang W/ SXSW live streamed performance, the rapper/businessman, sits backstage in a calm state, smiling widely.
"It's liberating," he tells Billboard of his decision to leave Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, the record label that helped make him a star just over a decade ago.
50 Cent announced his departure last month. His G-Unit Records imprint comes with him to Capitol Music Group via a new worldwide distribution deal with their independent services division Caroline.
"It's great. I choose everything: what to release [and] when to release it," he continues. "The fun part is that there doesn't have to be a schedule. There's no timeline. If I write a record and I want to put it out, I'll put it out."
This promotional run that 50 Cent wasn't familiar with during his time at Interscope. He didn't have as much say on the release of album assets as he does now.
"I'll give you an example of how the process was at Interscope," he says. "[With] my very first album ('Get Rich or Die Tryin''), we had to choose between two records for the single: ‘If I Can't' and ‘In Da Club.' It wasn't that big of a deal which one was it because they're both [produced by Dr.] Dre. I was sitting on the couch, having already talked about it privately [with Eminem] that ‘In Da Club' was the record.
Em' goes, ‘'In Da Club' record, definitely.' And then the entire room was like, ‘It's ‘In Da Club.'; The other record never turned into a single. ‘If I Can't' performed like a single at the radio because the record was such a good hit, but there was never a video for it. The one inspirational record on the album… that's the kind of record that could have made ‘Animal Ambition' if I could do it again."
50 Cent kicks off the promotion behind his upcoming fifth solo album, "Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win," by partnering up with the Hang With Inc. for a livestream performance at SXSW. He's also come on board as an investor of the mobile app.
Unfortunately Interscope artist, and mentee of 50, ScHoolboy Q wasn't able to get into the SXSW show. Shortly after the show ended, ScHoolboy tweeted: "Dey wouldn't let me in 50 cent sHow jus now smH I still ain't on number 1 and sum moe sHit lmao… Sxsw 2 hollywood now I migHt go Home for deez days off."
Dey wouldn't let me in 50 cent sHow jus now smH I still ain't on number 1 and sum moe sHit lmao
— ScHoolboy Q (@ScHoolBoyQ) March 12, 2014
Sxsw 2 Hollywood now I migHt go Home for deez days off
— ScHoolboy Q (@ScHoolBoyQ) March 12, 2014
50 Cent, unaware of ScHoolboy's attempt to attend till after his show, livened the loaded crowd at 1100 Warehouse with a 1-hour set of his hits, kicking off with recently released "Animal Ambition" song, "The Funeral," and a range of hits from his four-album discography with his collaborative track with Lil Kim, "Magic Stick," bringing forth the loudest reaction.
Due to the countless delays of "Animal Ambition," 50 had to "reapproach the record": "It's been so long that I had to rebuild my record. I can't put out what I made yesterday today."
"This album is prosperity. It's the positive and negative effects of prosperity. If I'm doing too good, it's actually not good in front of people. Prosperity makes them think you're doing better than them, that brings envy and jealousy which then brings negative energy," 50 says of the album. "You will constantly go, 'Wow, I know why you said that right there.' You get an effect of prosperity in each song; even the celebrations, which are inspired by things going on the right way."
Mid-set, 50 performed a new "Animal Ambition" song, "Hold On," for the first time and seven days before its official release (March 18). The song features 50 rapping about those "with too much pride."
The same day of the label announcement, Tony Yayo, friend and G-Unit member (or ex-member?) took to Instagram to announce that he's "done with music" and that "50 ain't rocking with me and Banks the same."
"I had a wonderful journey with the people I grew up with. I think the frustration comes from shock, probably, that it's not everything they wanted it to be," he says of Yayo's comments. "Him of all people… It's not a secret, it's a known fact that he actually came home form jail with a million dollars and a Bentley. Like, ‘What do you want?'"
"These guys are millionaires. They've made millions of dollars. Why do that then? Whenever there's no one to blame, you know what game you play, [for] a look. I don't know what the goal was," he continues, also saying that he hasn't communicated with G-Unit former and current members.
The ordeal "doesn't affect my life," 50 Cent says. "I don't believe in looking back. I can care less about things that's happened in the past. I'm looking forward, at prosperity."
"I've learned: The same person that tells you you're a piece of shit tells you they love you when the right song comes out. ‘My man, 50 back.' So you can't be affected by ‘I hate you' because it won't allow for something good to come in."