These are the toughest times we've ever publicly seen for Curtis Jackson.
50 Cent stormed into the game like a superhero, impervious even to gun shots to the face, and since then, even as his label has disintegrated and his musical relevancy has plummeted, he's maintained an air of invincibility and almost unrivaled success. That invincibility was ultimately based on wealth, not music, his trump card was always "I get money," so it makes sense that a bankruptcy case feels like the first real crack in the 50 Cent castle walls we've ever seen.
But just as he seemed on the brink of resolving that bankruptcy case, he finds himself once again in court because the judge in the case grew concerned that 50 Cent wasn't honestly reporting his assets after seeing Instagram post after Instagram post of 50 basically saying, "Ha ha, suck it bankruptcy court. I'm still super rich, look at all this off-the-books cash I have."
To make matters worse, even the FBI is now involved, questioning 50 about the origins of that floor-to-ceiling cash and whether its counterfeit or not. All that legal and criminal pressure finally pushed 50 to do something years of beef and public controversy hasn't, admit that the cash he's posing with is fake and quit social media. In a series of posts he accused the court of being racist and unfairly targeting him because he's a wealthy, black rapper, and there's some real truth there. 50's feeling more pressure from the court system than all those bankers got for collapsing the global economy, although posting pictures comparing his struggles to that of the homeless after months of IG stunting carries a level of cognitive dissonance that borders on fuck-out-of-here territory.
I take absolutely no delight in 50's legal troubles, you can save your hater memes for the comment section, but I'm fascinated by this case because it's forcing 50 Cent to peel the curtain back on how much of hip-hop's elite imagery is just that - an image. 50 Cent of all people understands the power of public perception, and the last two months have revealed that he's caught in between trying to please two different audiences. If the public believed he was truly broke his business ventures would suffer - no one wants to drink broke guy vodka - hence posing with the stacks of cash. But while it may be easy to project an image of wealth to the rap public, the courts have a far lower tolerance for illusion.
To stay rich 50 Cent needs to continue to make people believe he's rich, but to stay rich he also needs a bankruptcy court to believe he's unable to pay his debts. It's a trap, one he's largely built for himself, and it's going to be fascinating watching this case play out.
Live by the dollar, die by the dollar.
UPDATE: Audio of one of 50 Cent's lawyers explaining his position has surfaced:
"I'm not going to ask you whether you listen to his music or have seen his videos or anything like that, but if you look at Mr. Jackson or other Hip Hop artists, they're aspirational. They come from poverty. Many of their fans are poor. They want their favorite rapper to be rich. Money is important to them. You look at his pre-bankruptcy persona, look at some of the videos, money is important. Filing the bankruptcy by definition presented a real challenge as to how it's going to be handled.
I could understand why it would inflame creditors of the estate, but I think they're sophisticated. They now appreciate what's one person's inflammation is another one's way of maximizing recovery. If Mr. Jackson conducted himself say with more discretion, more tact, he wouldn't be getting people endorsing him for high premium items. He wouldn't be getting movie parts. He wouldn't be having great roles on TV."