50 Cent on Black Magic, keeping the hits to himself and being passed over for best new artist when he debuted

Our Rough Mixes entry focusing on 50 Cent in this week's issue only contained excerpts of our recent conversation with the rapper. In advance of his show tonight at the Fillmore, we've posted our entire exchange with the stunningly emaciated MC after the jump.

WW (Kiernan Maletsky): How's Black Magic coming along?

50 Cent: It's coming good. I've been working on the project for a while now. I don't know, before I actually release the record, I want to have enough time to make sure it's the best possible material I could present, because it's a concept album, and I kind of had a vision for what it would sound like. I was saying, "This feels like 'black magic,' I'm going to use this beat," instead of picking whatever came on that I felt was good.

I'm the only artist in my circle -- with myself, Em and Dre -- I'm the only one that's actually on schedule. Everybody else comes organically, when the eclipse comes [laughs]. This time I just want to make sure what I'm presenting is hands down my best material.

WW: What is the concept? Is it just "Black Magic," or do you have something more specific in mind?

50: It has a style. The production is more soulful, and the content is a little more mature than what I've offered in my past records. And to give you an example of what I would say is more mature, my last album, Before I Self-Destruct, I was trying to capture the dysfunctional behavior I had and the things that I grew up around on the actual record. And it was the prequel to Get Rich or Die Tryin'. This record is a little more now.

WW: I've read that it will be a little more uptempo, dancier, and that you were influenced by your stops in Europe.

50: I did a song while I was out there that kind of matched the uptempo. And I'm not sure if these are going to make the record, because I record so many songs before I actually choose what has to stay and what has to go.

I watch artists who utilize writers. And it's easier for them to make the decision on what records to keep than it is for me, being the writer. I always feel like I could top what I just did. To give you an even clearer example, during the time frame of The Massacre, I wrote like twelve songs that only had two verses and a chorus on them. Song ideas. And I ended up scrapping those records and going on to create the hit music that ended up on The Massacre.

The things that I had on the album that stood out to me were after I created "Hate It or Love It," "Church For Thugs" and "Westside Story," that ended up on Game's album. So at this point, I don't want to throw away any hit records, I want to keep them. I always said to myself, 'What if I put all those records on one album? The records that took off and created the momentum for Game, if I kept those records and put them on my own album, if I was a little more selfish, and just kept everything to myself, then what would happen?' So that's exactly what I'm doing on this album.

WW: Do you have a new contract yet?

50: We're still in negotiations now. It doesn't stop me from working on the record.

WW: How are those negotiations going - do you have any idea when you'll be able to put the record out?

50: I've just had several people express an interest at the same time, so to stay that I would stay would be a negative read to them, and to say that I would go would be negative to the people I'm with, so I don't want to say either way.

WW: Is the writing process different now that you don't have a contract to fulfill?

50: No, because I've always had the freedom of writing what I wanted to write. I never received the accolades to go along with the performance of the material that I created, because I chose to write the harsh realities in some cases. But I did receive the checks. And I made a mistake by saying, at one point, "Some artists receive the trophies, and some artists receive the checks."

And that registered wrong to people who are really into our culture. They think that you're in it just for the money, and that will piss a person off who doesn't have any money. They didn't quite understand what I was getting at. From my perspective, you have to imagine what it would feel like to have the largest debuting hip-hop album to date and no Best New Artist for that.

WW: Where do you see yourself on that spectrum between pop artist and gangster rapper?

50: I get confused because I write aggressive content, so I guess I fall under gangster music. But because it does so well, I guess I'm popular. So I'm a pop artist.

WW: One of your greatest strengths has been your ability to write and sing a hook, so I think that helps with the popularity of your music.

50: And what it does is it actual translates the strongest when you move into international territory. This tour right here is going to be my first time touring in the US in three years because I've been completely occupied outside of the United States.

WW: Are you looking forward to being back here in the States?

50: It allows me to perform material that they haven't heard yet because I'm not breaking language barriers. So I can offer something that they haven't heard before and they can hear it and go, "Yo I like that." For the very first time you can introduce things in your performance, and they will stop and look at you because they're trying to learn it, to hear what you're saying. And you don't want to lose the momentum in the room in the middle of your performance because you're offering something new.

WW: Are you going to use this tour as a chance to try some stuff from Black Magic?

50: I may do that. I have a studio bus, a trailer I take with me on movie sets. So I never lack the opportunity to create when I'm inspired in any way. I bring my bus with me so I can actually record while I'm on tour.

WW: Who do you think will win the NBA title this year?

50: I don't know, it's always safe to say the Lakers. But I really don't know this time. It seems like it's getting tougher and tougher. Like there's more talent coming into the NBA, where now even the guys that are not as popular have the ability to change the game.

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Kiernan Maletsky is a former Westword intern.
Contact: Kiernan Maletsky