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50 Cent Moves the Unit

Rap's newest mogul inks label deal

April 8, 2003 12:00 AM ET

50 Cent will team with Interscope to run G-Unit Records. The multi-platinum rapper -- himself a signee of Eminem's Shady Records -- released a ream of street-level mixtapes before his 2003 album Get Rich or Die Tryin' made him wealthy many times over, and he plans to use the new label to bring his legendary tapes to a larger audience.

"I put out two mixtapes since [Get Rich] came out, and I'm not going to stop," 50 says. "That's the largest form of promotion. I can put out some of the new artists that are signed to my label."

Among the first releases from G-Unit the label will be an album by G-Unit the group, which comprises 50, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. The trio's first official record is due in September, after Yayo is released from Riker's Island Penitentiary, where he's serving a six-month sentence on gun charges. Letters from Eminem and Dr. Dre convinced prison officials to shorten Yayo's stay. "They said I'm a nice person, and they gave me an association with them," Yayo says from the jail. "They're also taking care of the legal bills -- everything."

"He has the opportunity to do something with his life," 50 says of Yayo, who recorded his contribution to the G-Unit album before he went to jail in January. "He should be home shortly, and we can drop the record."

For his part, 50 isn't worried about the extra work running a label takes. "I've never had a job before in my life, but I'm a lab rat," he says. "I stay in the studio."

Footage of the rapper at work is included on The New Breed a DVD due on April 15th. "We filmed the whole process of making the record," 50 says. "And live performances in Barcelona and Puerto Rico -- all over the place. You get to know who I am on this DVD. I had nothing to hide. I've had some experiences, y'know? We showed what we could before it turned into triple X."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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