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By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – American rapper, hip-hop artist, and former gangster 50 Cent will be greeting his fans in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, July 17th with a concert in Marina da Glória, his first ever in the Marvelous City.

50 Cent performing in San Francisco during the U.S. leg of his The Invitation Tour, photo by Alyssa Tomfohrde/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The artist’s life story is a gritty tale of survival against all odds and by whatever means possible. The harsh realities that defined his life before embarking on a career in music also form the foundations for his work, making 50 Cent one of the most genuine artists of a genre defined by personal accounts of stories on drugs, guns, and violence.

Born in 1975 as Curtis Jackson III in Queens, New York City to a 15-year-old drug-dealer mother, who was mysteriously murdered not long after, Jackson grew up in the streets and turned to a life of crime at an early age. He was selling drugs by age twelve, and by high school he had become a feared, gun-wielding kingpin.

He was shot nine times, arrested on countless occasions, and served multiple prison sentences as a result of his dealings, but he has always emphasized that he had only made the choices he made to be able to provide for himself, and it was the only way he knew how.

Music came into the life of Jackson as he discovered his talent and passion for rapping in his early 20s, and he credits the birth of his son in 1997 with changing his outlook on life, deciding to trade drug-dealing and violence with a career in hip-hop. He adopted the name “50 Cent” both as a metaphor for “change”, and as an homage to a deceased gangster from his past.

His early recordings and performances quickly made him the star of the local, underground hip-hop scene, however, it was the inclusion of a single on the soundtrack of the film 8 Mile in 2002 that brought him worldwide recognition. One year later, his album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ topped the charts, turning 50 Cent into one of the world’s most hyped rappers by selling over 12,000,000 copies worldwide.

A view of Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro, where 50 Cent is scheduled to perform on July 17th, photo by Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Previously having held a show in São Paulo in 2004 as part of a festival, 50 Cent’s The Invitation Tour, during which he will be performing hits from his last album Before I Self Destruct, as well as his upcoming album Black Magic, marks the first time the artist is touring in Brazil. Aside from Rio de Janeiro, he is also scheduled to perform in São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Florianópolis, and attracted large crowds to his shows in Salvador and Goiânia last week.

The artist comes to Brazil in the wake of the polemic inadvertently created by his DJ Whoo Kid, who responded to his followers on Twitter advising him to “pack lots of condoms” by claiming that Brazil is “only known for sex, women and AIDS”. Both the DJ and 50 Cent have since publicly apologized to Brazilian fans, citing misunderstanding, and voicing their admiration for the country and its people, but still ended up getting attacked on stage by a crazed fan in Salvador.

Even though it remains unclear whether the incident is related to that controversial outburst, 50 Cent is not known for shying away from confrontation, and his continuing tour promises to be interesting on multiple levels.

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