The crowd who turn out to see the O2 arena stop of 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ 15th anniversary tour is probably the most diverse I have ever seen at a show. Aside from the Power theme tune or 50’s Instagram feed, I’ve been largely out of touch with his work for about a decade. Despite this, tracks from this album: ‘21 Questions’ and ‘If I Can’t’ never stray far from my most played, and few songs get a dance floor filled quicker than ‘In Da Club’ or ‘P.I.M.P.’. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a classic – perhaps the greatest album of all time. You take what you want from it – it has been praised as a damning exposé of gang life and culture, but also criticised for including misogynistic lyrics and glorifying violence. Since the album was released in 2003, its fans have included those that have misunderstood the lyrics entirely. This includes me and my friends in the playground at seven years old trying to work out where the ‘Candy Shop’ was. Whatever your perspective on the explicit content, it is difficult to argue against the impeccable production, flow and lyricism on the album, or its colossal legacy.
The show is a party right from the start. Lethal Bizzle opens as support act and gets eight moshpits on the go within 10 minutes, and when 50 Cent makes his entrance even those sat at the back of the stadium are stood up. 20,000 strong, the entire arena is heaving with energy. 50 Cent is no exception, and any concerns he may be too old for this finish before they have time to start. It’s a bit awkward when too many people don’t pause and instead scream the n-word at the top of their lungs, but for the most part the atmosphere is light hearted and fun despite the subject matter. 50 wishes he could play guitar like Prince. “I can’t do that,” he says, “But I can do this.”, and launches into ‘21 Questions’. There’s little time to pause and chat – 50 has so many hits he plays shortened versions of most songs, only deviating from his work to play Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ and encouraging the audience to ‘light up’. Things take a sombre turn, however, when he halts the show for a minute’s silence to honour the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. The minute is touching, and the O2 is illuminated with green stage lights and thousands upon thousands of phone torches. He segues into ‘Patiently Waiting’, and the bright spots begin to sway. I’d be surprised if any of the audience got home not feeling like they’d really enjoyed themselves. Even I felt cool, and I’m more ‘Gee, you knit?’ than G Unit.