Tonight he'll hold court for three or four hours straight until it's time to leave for a tour date in Baltimore. There's a thin wife-beater covering his chiseled torso and a Yankees hat balanced at an angle atop the white do-rag on his head. His navy-blue bulletproof vest is there on the floor. On records, 50 projects a scary crack dealer, but among friends, the screw face drops. He's animated, a street-corner shit-talker who knows where all the bodies are buried and knows no one can make him shut up. When he gets around to talking about his six-year-old son, Marquise, who appears in the "Wanksta" video, his son's mother pulls his picture out of her wallet. She calls him a hip-hop baby. "One time he was watching TV with another little kid," 50 says, "and a person got shot and died. He said to the other kid, 'That's weak. My daddy got shot a lot of times. He didn't die.' " Everyone laughs. "I had to tell him that was a special situation," he says. "You're not supposed to get hit that many times and get away!"
Violence has been a constant in the life of twenty-six-year-old 50 Cent -- government name Curtis Jackson, nickname Boo-Boo. His mother, a drug dealer, was killed when he was eight. At twelve, he became a dealer, and was nearly shot to death at twenty-four. His first hip-hop mentor, Jam Master Jay, was killed execution-style last year. Just four days before this very evening, an empty SUV owned by Busta Rhymes was hit with six bullets while parked in front of 50 Cent's manager's office. And right now, there are people who want 50 dead.
Some have suggested that it's other rappers who are trying to kill him, but 50 says hatred from his old competitors in crack dealing has multiplied because of his fame. "This ain't no rap war," he says. "This have nothin' to do with no rappers. The gangsters don't like that I do whatever the fuck I wanna do. I'm movin around, I'm all over the country, I'm makin' money, I'm a motherfuckin' star. That bothers a nigga. The people that dislike me have nothin' to lose. I'm from the bottom. They're uneasy about still bein' on the bottom."