For better or for worse, 50 Cent has always been a captivating entertainer and that’s emphasized on both ends. The Jamaica, Queens rapper was catapulted and then some into the masses with his undeniable classic debut album Get Rich Or Die Trying. The album presented 50 Cent as an indestructible and impenetrable figure like no other. These qualities helped make 50 Cent the monumental figure that we now know him as.
Nowadays, 50 Cent’s name is attached to his Power Universe, a crime drama television world that he co-created with showrunner Courtney Kemp with the launch of Power in 2014. That series concluded after six seasons in 2020, but that wasn’t the end of the Power experience. What started next was three spin-offs: Power Book II: Ghost, Power Book III: Raising Kanan, and Power Book IV: Force. The universe dove into alternate narratives in the past, future, and a whole different world from the original Power series. It ensured that the Power legacy would last longer than most TV series do nowadays (minus The Walking Dead, which also has a plethora of spin-offs).
So how did 50 Cent go from hip-hop superstar with an undeniable classic album to a television mogul with a TV series beloved by his community?
It all starts heading into the 2010s, the decade that 50 Cent’s music stardom didn’t translate to the dominant commercial performances that we’d seen with his first three albums: Get Rich Or Die Trying, The Massacre, and Curtis. Before I Self Destruct was released at the end of 2009 and debuted at No. 5 on the album charts with first-week sales of 160,000 copies. While that number can get you a No. 1 album in 2023, that was not the case in 2009. What came next was 50 Cent’s slow exit from being a musician-first entertainer. Another album was delivered in 2014 with Animal Ambition after his release from Interscope Records. His long-delayed Street King Immortal album, which was announced in 2011, is now a “maybe one day” release, much like Dr. Dre’s Detox.
While 50 Cent’s music career was in a bit of a slump, his business ventures flourished. Various investments and partnerships brought the rapper massive success thanks to steps in the publishing, beverage, video game, and apparel industries. In 2010, months after releasing Before I Self Destruct, 50 Cent revived his G-Unit Films company that he originally launched in 2003 and renamed it G-Unit Films and Television. 50 Cent delivered several projects through G-Unit Films and Television within the first few years after the revamp, including Power. In a 2020 interview with The Washington Post, Kemp described the series as a “mixture of a detective story, cops and robbers, and it’s a soap also, it’s a love triangle drama, it’s a family drama.”
Initially, it wasn’t easy to find a home for Power. 50 Cent and Kemp shopped the series to a few platforms but failed to find one that would buy into the story until they came across STARZ and former CEO Chris Albrecht and former head of programming Carmi Zlotnik. “I remember being captivated by the ideas that they were talking about,” Zlotnik said. “I thought the combination of the vision that they had for a show would make something I had never seen before.”
Power delivered drama that left its viewers at the edge of their seats. Cliffhanger after cliffhanger enthralled fans with what could happen after each episode and season between main characters James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), Tommy Egan (Joseph Sikora), and others, regardless of how delusional the events in the series were. The growth was apparent too. Power season one finale reeled in 1.08 million U.S. viewers, season two’s finale had 1.54 million U.S. viewers, and season three and four’s finales had 2.01 U.S. million and 2 million U.S. viewers, respectively. Power was popular all over the world by the end of season four. According to Variety, with an average of 9.3 million multiplatform viewers per episode that season and an average of 7.3 million over the life of the series at the conclusion of season four, the success of Power was enough to earn 50 Cent a new four-year deal with STARZ reportedly worth up to $150 million.
By the time that deal was done, 50 Cent had another TV series in development: BMF. The now-released Demetrious Flenory Jr. and Da’Vinchi-led show recounts the rise and eventual fall of the Black Mafia Family drug organization that rose to prominence in the 1980s in Detroit. BMF currently stands as a cousin of sorts to the Power Universe.
Consistency is a key ingredient in the recipe to success for any artist in any field and 50 Cent was well aware of that. His run of consistent hits, catchy hooks, and exciting verses has turned into a run of his television shows that lasts for nearly an entire calendar year. To get a better picture of how continuous and frequent this cinematic universe runs, let’s take a look at the 2021-2022 “season.” Raising Kanan season one ran from July 18 – September 26, BMF arrived for season one from September 26 – November 21, Ghost season two aired from November 21 – February 6, 2022, and lastly Force concluded the run with its inaugural season that started on February 6 – April 17. After a break for the summer, Raising Kanan returned for season two on August 14, kicking off a new round for the run of shows. Through this, 50 Cent’s animal ambition seamlessly made its way from headphones and speakers to small screens all over the world.
Its ability to satisfy every fan of the original Power series is another reason that the Power Universe is successful. For those who desired a continuation of the story, there’s Ghost. If a new focus on fan-favorite Tommy Egan was sought, Force provided that. Wanted to see how the Power world was created? Look no further than Raising Kanan. Furthermore, 50 Cent’s cinematic world provided an aesthetic and focus to satisfy many tastes whether it be ‘80s hip-hop culture (Raising Kanan and BMF), present-day urban luxury (Ghost), a world controlled by the mafia (Force). Lastly, hip-hop culture remained present in all of the aforementioned series as names in or connected to it made appearances in all the shows. They include 50 Cent himself, Mary. J Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Jeremih, Redman, Jalen Rose, Method Man, LeToya Luckett, Omar Epps, Snoop Dogg, Serayah, Mo’Nique, Eminem, Yung Miami, and others. The culture that 50 Cent first rose to prominence in remained important to him even when he switched lanes and he made sure to include the names from today and yesterday to, once again, capture as many of its elements as possible.
In a world where television series don’t have the lifespans that they used to, 50 Cent and his team of crime drama producers and writers realized that aiming for lateral dominance with multiple options as opposed to longevity with just one would be more impactful for their universe. Add in consistency and attention to detail and audience, and you have the foundational pieces to build an empire that is the Power Universe. Nearly a decade in, 50 Cent wears the TV mogul hat proudly thanks to the success and growth of his cinematic universe.