Take a look at this picture. I mean really look. Study it. Ponder it. Let it truly marinate in your retina, because looking at this 2006 XXL cover is like looking at Pompeii moments before Vesuvius erupted, like watching Joe Theisman take that snap shortly before
When this picture was taken, we had every reason to assume that 50 Cent was only going to continue to expand his G-Unit empire. He had just lost Game, but he still had a multi-platinum album under his belt, a booming clothing line, and a new crop of signings to carry the label into the future.
Fast forward to 2013 and G-Unit is a shell of a label that Fiddy can barely be bothered to think about. In fact, the label's apex might have been the moment this picture was taken, so let's take a look at what went wrong, from left to right...
: After their previous album flopped, Mobb Deep decided 50 might be able to get their declining careers back on track. The result, "Blood Money" kinda, sorta worked; it sold well, but had longtime fans accusing them of
. So when the G-Unit contract ended, neither party was particularly interested in renewing it and "Blood Money" would go on to be Mobb's last studio album to date. But Prodigy and Havoc have recently engaged in
and then fake reconciled, so things are looking up!
By the way, did you know that
, and 50 has a Mobb Deep tattoo. On my all-time worst ideas ever list, I'm putting that somewhere between Germany invading Russia during the winter and
: As his personal albums sales continued to fall, 50 realized fuck it, why put myself through the stress of running a label when I can just cash VitaminWater checks, make
and stay relevant by stirring up beef.
There, did I just sum up the last few years of 50's career? I'm pretty sure I did.
: Holy sweet baby jesus, I completely forgot Ma$e was on G-Unit. Actually, technically he wasn't signed to G-Unit, he was just around so much everyone assumed he was. (It was kind of like the original
). For a while Fiddy liked bringing Ma$e to shows and video shoots like he was a human accessory, but when Diddy said it'd cost $2 million to get Ma$e out of his Bad Boy deal, 50 wisely decided it was too steep a price to pay for a guy who'd already retired from rap once.
Since then things have been going fantastically for Ma$e's rap career. He's going to
: Damn, I forgot MOP was on G-Unit too, except this is more of a case of selective memory. Just like Mobb and Ma$e, MOP hoped signing with Mr. Cent would re-invigorate their aging street rap career. Instead, they released
and...that's it. Good times had by all.
: Easily G-Unit's most successful non-50 Cent artist, Banks has three solo albums under his belt that are all in "you at least have to respect it" territory, with one
to his name.
In the last year though,
that Banks doesn't know how to do anything without him and cut him off like a parent cutting of their unemployed kid. So far Banks has responded by
proving Fiddy completely wrong
not doing a whole lot. We'll just have to wait and see...
: What the hell happened to Olivia? Great question, I'm glad I asked it. After her
, 50 pretended like her debut G-Unit album. "Behind Closed Doors" didn't exist and Olivia left for the
. Hey, it could be worse, she could be Young Buck. (We'll get there.)
: Yayo decided he was just going to shut the fuck up, carry some weed and grab whatever money fell out of 50's pockets. Frankly, considering how his other G-Unit peers have fared, it was a great decision. (As long as, you know, you don't care about being respected as a rapper.)
Well played Mr. Yayo, well played.
: Who? Exactly.
Bonus Nathan S. Fact: I once
, during which I wrote, "Spider Loc won’t be a secret for long, if 50 puts G-Unit’s resources behind him," which is both brilliantly prophetic and borderline retarded. Hey, no one's proud of everything they did five years ago.
: Originally signed to help G-Unit expand into the South, Young Buck would go onto release a
, go to jail, cry, diss 50 Cent without thinking through the whole "50 could refuse to let me out of my contract and fuck my career" thing, and go to jail.
So yeah, it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Mr. Buck.
In summary, of the 10 (non-50 Cent) rappers in that picture, only two are still with the label (Banks and Yayo), and none, including 50, currently have what can be described as a thriving career. That's not particularly Fiddy's fault: times change, and it turns out running a label's pretty goddamn hard, especially when you're trying to run your own career, but when that photo shoot went down, no one in that picture thought it would come to this.
I guess it goes to show, the best laid schemes of mice and Curtis Jackson....