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"Look, when you put together the force of Dr. Dre, Eminem and Paul Rosenberg, as well as the talent of 50, you have something that is potent artistically as well as commercially. It exploded from the East Coast, but now we’re feeling it in every market."
——Steve Berman, IGA sales guru
50 CENT THINKING BIG BUCKS
Expectations Growing for Eminem/Dr. Dre Protege
Remember back to the golden age of hip-hop, when the East-West wars were raging and artists like Biggie and Tupac were holding sway?

Red-hot hip-hop provocateur 50 Cent, 26 (real name: Curtis Jackson), was signed by Dr. Dre and Eminem for a reported million bucks-plus in a spirited bidding war last spring. The Jamaica, Queens, native is being managed by Violator’s Chris Lighty.

The rapper, a legend in his native N.Y.C. for his much-in-demand street mix tapes, has a sterling list of credentials to back up the hotly anticipated Feb. 11 release of his debut album for Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, Get Rich or Die Trying.

"There’s no question he’s going to be the next big thing in rap," says Em manager and Shady principal Paul Rosenberg. "The guy is extremely talented, writes catchy hooks and has strong street presence. The setup has been great. And I don’t have to worry about him. Let Chris earn his money."

The controversial rapper, who’s engaged in an old-fashioned feud with Murder Inc.’s Irv Gotti and Ja Rule, has been shot nine times and was arrested last New Year’s Eve for gun possession. Just last week, a mob scene caused the cancellation of a performance in San Francisco.

Sure sounds like a marketing plan—one that’s had retailers eagerly awaiting what is expected to be the first smash of 2003, and a lock for a #1 bow. The marketplace has been stoked with 50’s hit single/video, "Wanksta," from the 8 Mile soundtrack.

"In Da Club," Get Rich or Die Trying’s first single/video, was one of four tracks produced by Dr. Dre, while the album features two songs produced by Eminem ("Patiently Waiting" and "Don’t Push Me"). There are also cameos by Lil’ Kim and Nate Dogg.

Says IGA marketing guru/TV star Steve Berman: "Look, when you put together the force of Dr. Dre, Eminem and Paul Rosenberg, as well as the talent of 50, you have something that is potent artistically as well as commercially. It exploded from the East Coast, but now we’re feeling it in every market."

50 Cent was originally signed to Columbia Records in 1999 by Trackmasters producers/label execs Tone and Poke. He recorded an album, Power of a Dollar, which included the sarcastic "How to Rob," boasting how he’d shake down the likes of Master P and Timbaland, and causing a furor in the rap community. With a potential breakout cut, "Thug Love," featuring Destiny’s Child, about to hit, the album was pulled, allegedly because of rampant bootlegging.

After teaming with partner Sha Money XL, 50 produced more than 30 new songs, putting out the indie album Guess Who’s Back and creating a huge buzz on the street.

The media/marketing/promotional blitz includes:

* First 500k copies of the album to include DVD, with a teaser offered in the current XXL, featuring a 50 Cent cover story with Eminem and Dre.

* Concert tour launched last Saturday (1/25) in Las Vegas, through 2/16 in Baltimore.

* Contest and audio/video on 50centonline.com.

* "In Da Club" getting adds at both Rhythm (KBBT) and Pop (WIOQ, WFLZ).

* MTV Buzzworthy, BET.

* Launch.com's Emerging Artist of the Month, most searched for artist on Yahoo (see buzz.yahoo.com/music/)

* Access Hollywood appearance, 1/27 performance on Jimmy Kimmel show.

* Featured in new AND1 Basketball commercial with Stephon Marbury.

* Contributing tracks to new album by DMX and a Jam Master Jay tribute for the first solo effort from Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels.

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