50 Cent Lets Fly on 'Power,' Ambition & Going Indie

Queens rapper 50 Cent is known for cutting people off. For his fifth studio album, "Animal Ambition', he has severed ties with his longtime label Interscope to start independent G-Unit Records through Caroline/Capitol. He also reunited with his G-Unit cohorts at WQHT (Hot 97) New York's Summer Jam on June 1 (despite a scuffle), and will launch his first TV show, Power, the hourlong Starz drama about a drug kingpin ready to go legit, on June 7. The 38-year-old impresario sat down with Billboard to talk about the new album, the show and why he left Interscope. He had nothing to say, however, about Jimmy Iovine's new deal with Apple.

 

How are you feeling about going indie for the first time?

It allows me the ability to release things at the drop of a hat. I can just have my finger on the pulse of what's going on at the moment and let it go. It used to take six to eight weeks for a record to reach a point where we would [know] if it was going to be a top five or No. 1 record. Now it's taking 20 weeks to do the same thing. Look at how long that [Young Thug] record "Stoner" was out for. A long time! But [they've] got [a hit], and if that one works, whether it's radio or YouTube, there are cool places for you to have the ability to reach these audiences.

Why did you decide to roll out the songs weekly in advance of the album instead of a stream one week before?

When I hear a song on the radio for the very first time, if it's an artist that I like, I know I would go to YouTube to hear it again. I enhanced it and made it better by having the visual already connected to it. Gain the audience, then sustain the audience instead of spending every marketing dollar to keep the audience in place.

You're launching your first TV show. How does TV writing differ from writing lyrics?

This is a project I worked on for two years. I got with [Courtney Kemp Agboh], the showrunner of Power. She was working on The Good Wife and I got her to quit. It's fulfilling, and it's a real challenge. The depth [of the] actual writing, the process of developing characters in a series - taking that time to actually implement who this character is and why he does what he does - it's like creating eight films. It's the coolest thing.

Your new album, "Animal Ambition," seems to focus on success.

I gave it the theme of prosperity. And there were so many cool things to write. It's the way that someone views it who's not progressing at your pace. But no music works if women don't like the song. If I make a song that all the guys like and I play it for girls and they go like this [stares blankly into space]? F--- that, it's scrapped...I will not put a song out that doesn't mean anything to women.


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