Rapper/actor/business mogul Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson visited war-torn Somalia this past Wednesday, eerily enough on the same day as Somalia's homegrown al Shabab terrorists joined forces with Al Qaeda. 50 was there on a World Food Program humanitarian trip and spent time visiting camps for internally displaced people that have suffered through 2 decades of anarchic war and famine in the East African nation. Unfortunately, it's a war that is heating up once again.
Previously, 50 had promised to donate meals based on purchases and facebook "likes" of his new energy drink, Street Kings. He added that if his Street Kings facebook page receives one million "likes" by Sunday, he would donate an additional one million meals. This wasn't 50's first trip to Africa, but it seems to have gone better than his last.
If you want a good rundown of the situation in Somalia right now, you'd do better off reading this book by Michael Maren. Let's talk about 50.
50 appears to be in the beginning stages of a path carved out by celebs like Angelina Jolie and Sean Penn. Basically, celebrities spend the early part of theirs careers being entitled dicks, then realize that their lives are meaningless and they've done nothing of any real value, so they decide to take up political and humanitarian causes. Some of them handle these causes better than others and seem to genuinely care about what they're doing, like Jolie. She ran around with Billy Bob Thortnon wearing vials of blood and doing heroin, whereas 50 ran around talking shit and starting trouble with whoever would respond. Now she's completely dedicated herself to humanitarian causes, and 50 seems like he might just be getting started.
No one exemplifies this career transition more than Sean Penn, who was a giant asshole and terrific actor for decades, and is now a giant asshole and terrific actor who says a lot of dumb things about international affairs but has contributed a tremendous effort to helping rebuild Haiti.
Personally, I've been a fan of 50's work since How to Rob and his early mixtapes, which were vicious. His last few albums have been uninspired, as is his acting, but his business acumen is brilliant. He's slowly amassing quite a fortune by throwing his name and marketing behind anything that he can, whether it be an Internet media company like thisis50.com or a sugar-filled soft drink like Vitamin Water. He's nothing if not a consummate salesman, first of crack, now of himself and his brand. If he puts his mind towards humanitarian efforts, he could certainly do some positive things. Generally I'm more of the William Easterly mind state, but let's wait and see what 50 plans to do.
He's already handled this celebrity attention getting trip better than most of his peers: He kept his mouth shut about politics and focused on the people he was visiting. Actually, let's see what Somalian rapper K'naan has to say about the whole thing. He once rapped of his hometown Mogadishu, "If I rhyme about home and got descriptive, I'd make 50 cent look like Limp Bizkit."
[pic via 50 Cent's Instagram]