If there ever was a single that altered the course of hip-hop and instantly made a star, it was “In Da Club” by 50 Cent. January 7, 2003, the leader of G-Unit went from a man that was known for contributing “Wanksta” to the 8-Mile soundtrack and previously by the jab “I’m about a dollar, what the fuck is 50 Cent” issued by Jay-Z as a ripple from “How to Rob,” to a cultural phenomenon. We saw what “In Da Club” did on the surface in the culture, however, the build to its release, packaging of 50 as an artist and the impact against contemporaries and competitors is a story that goes beyond the legendary “It’s your birthday.”
In 2017, hip-hop was consumed in The Defiant Ones – the documentary of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine and their rise to prominence, both individually and as a tandem. One of the more intriguing moments in the docuseries was the discovery of Eminem and how Dre instantly went to work with him, creating “My Name Is” and pulling the latter out of a what some would call a rut and others saw as his demise. In a Rolling Stone article titled The Life of a Hunted Man, it’s detailed three years later Em brings 50 to Dr. Dre and in a similar fashion, Dre goes to work and the duo records seven tracks across five days. “The very first time he heard [me rap on] ‘In Da Club’ he said, ‘Yo, I didn’t think you was going to go there with it, but, you know, it works.’ He was probably thinking of going in a different direction with that song. Then he expanded it into a hit record,” 50 shared in a February story to MTV and Shaheem Reid. While the stories were revealing of the creation, we are missing the raw energy of the memories and voices of the sessions.