50 Cent grew up in Southside Jamaica Queens until his mother was killed when he was 8 years old. He had to move in with his grandparents in Rochdale Village, a middle class neighborhood. 50 did not live in the projects nor did he claim to, he lived near the South Jamaica housing projects. He attended Andrew Jackson High School but was kicked out for possessing crack cocaine in the school. He was eventually convicted on a drug possession charge and served jail time.
A former protégé of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay, 50 Cent released his debut album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" in 2003; it featured the singles "In Da Club", "P.I.M.P." and "Wanksta". This was produced by Eminem and Dr. Dre.
50 Cent had previously released underground albums, but did not gain exposure to a mainstream audience until he was discovered by Eminem, who was impressed by his talents and signed him to a joint deal between Shady and Aftermath Records. 50 Cent also gained fame for his rap feud with fellow rapper Ja Rule, which has come quite close to violence. So close, in fact, that some believe that the September 18th, 2003 shooting attack on 50 Cent was perpetrated by associates of Ja Rule, but this suspicion is generally unfounded, as there is little evidence to prove it.
Some believe he embarrassed himself at the Grammy Awards of 2004 when he walked up on stage when the winner for Best New Artist was announced, thinking it was him (in fact, it was a surprise win for Evanescence). A rival interpretation of events is that he rushed the stage as a proud act of defiance. 50 Cent is already a pop culture icon, as he brought the gangster style back into mainstream hip hop.