Articles and information on the 2005 Canadian tour by thug rapper, 50 Cent


Click here to view pictures from 50 Cent's web sites
Click here to read letter to Councillor Joe Pantalone re use of taxpayer owned Ricoh Coliseum for 50 Cent concert
Click here to read letter to The Hon. Joseph Volpe, Minister of Immigration re 50 Cent permit to enter Canada
Click here to read letter to The Hon. Monte Kwinter re tax credits for Get Rich or Die Tryin' filmed in Toronto
Click here to read letter to the editor re Premier Dalton McGuinty's uninformed comments on rap not influencing violence 


Canadian concert venues for 50 Cent tour - 2005

Vancouver, December 3 - Pacific Coliseum
Halifax, December 14 - Halifax Metro Centre
St. John, December 15 - Harbour Station
Quebec City, December 18 - Colisee Pepsi Arena
Montreal, December 19 - Bell Centre
Toronto, December 20 - Ricoh Coliseum, Exhibition Place
Ottawa, December 21 - Corel Centre


Live: 50 Cent leaves Toronto short-changed

December 20, 2005
ChartAttack.com
By Brian Wong

For all the brouhaha leading up to Tuesday night's 50 Cent show at Ricoh Coliseum, the event was everything we expected it to be: tame.

Though Toronto Liberal MP Dan McTeague failed to ban the Queens, N.Y. rapper from entering the country — McTeague believed Fiddy's arms-obsessed music would continue to glorify violence in a city that saw a rise in gun-related deaths this year — authorities did everything they could to ensure order. That meant a series of RCMP officers surrounding the venue, as well as a ridiculous 30-minute line-up in sub-zero temperatures for a thorough pat-down and metal detector check that was also videotaped. If you hadn't thought about shooting anyone before arriving, you probably changed your mind while in line.

Only a fifth of the audience could make it in time for Rihanna's brief set. All hair and hips, the Barbados-born teenager put on a good display of island-inflected R&B. She closed with her hit, "Pon De Replay," a rumbling collision of swing rhythms and dancehall. Then T.O. homeboy Kardinal Offishall proved to be as fiery and glorious as promised, spewing rhymes that could run circles around Twista. The king of Bakardi Slang also had some choice words for Fiddy's opponents.

"Fuck the politicians and anyone who wants to stop hip-hop in the T-dot," Kardinal declared, coaxing a sea of middle fingers from the crowd before encouraging them to morph them into peace signs.

By the time Fiddy and his edited G-Unit crew showed up (half of them, including Tony Yayo and Olivia couldn't get the permits to enter the country), the two-thirds-full arena was ready to shake their asses.

In his usual uniform — oversized white T-shirt, Yankees cap and a huge, diamond-encrusted cross — the former Curtis Jackson was all smiles, coming off nothing like the gun-toting thug he presents himself to be. He might finish every song with sounds of either gunshots, a cocking trigger or broken glass, but Fiddy seemed more intent on having a good time, caressing a pink D-cup bra thrown on stage and tossing dozens of open water bottles into the audience.

The muscle-bound rapper covered tracks from his sophomore disc, The Massacre, dropping the snap-happy "Candy Shop" like a gangsta Willy Wonka and similarly club-friendly tracks like "Disco Inferno." As hooky as the bass thumps are, though, some of the material relies too much on the same formula of grave beats and clicking rhythms and hits from his huge-selling debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin' — such as "21 Questions" and the ubiquitous "In Da Club" — unfortunately got two-minute edit treatment.

His pal Lloyd Banks was a welcome co-vocalist, taking the mic for his hit "On Fire," while Fiddy attempted to make up for his missing crew members by performing snippets of their songs, as well as tracks he appears on like The Game's "Hate It Or Love It" and Lil' Kim's "Magic Stick."

Yet even with a surprise appearance from Mase, who pulled out "Mo Money Mo Problems" to the crowd's delight, and bringing Kardinal back out to show off his fancy footwork, Fiddy's 75-minute set seemed like a career overview, filled with unnecessarily abbreviated songs.


His air of sinister nonchalance a magnet to mini-skirted fans

December 22, 2005
Ottawa Citizen
By Lynn Saxberg

Controversial U.S. rapper 50 Cent concluded a short, but highly scrutinized, Canadian tour at the Corel Centre last night in front of a pumped-up crowd of close to 6,500 fans who preferred gangsta rap over more festive pursuits such as wrapping presents or baking cookies.

But the former Curtis Jackson was missing more than half of his G-Unit backing crew -- held up at the border -- including the unit's only female member, Olivia, most famous for her sultry performance in Candy Shop, the song and the video. "What the f--k did they think Olivia was going to do," 50 said, sharing his outrage with the crowd.

To make up for the absentees, there were guest appearances by the opening acts -- teen beauty queen Rhianna and Toronto rapper Kardinall Offishall -- early in the set, but it didn't take long for Fiddy and his lone G-Unit border survivor, Lloyd Banks, to settle into the groove of a duo performance. Banks, who made a point of being confrontational with an audience at the Capital Music Hall last year, made the most of the opportunity.

Banks turned in a terrific performance, but it was clearly his boss in charge. At one point, his main responsibility seemed to be dumping all available bottles of water on fans, security and equipment.

Anyway, despite the sexism, violence and greed depicted in Fiddy's lyrics, it turned out he just wanted to party. With fewer recorded gunshots than during his last appearance in Ottawa, and a deeper dancehall vibe, fans were on their feet, moving their hips the whole time to songs like Candy Shop, Just a Lil Bit, Window Shopper, Get In My Car and In Da Club.

Although 50 toasted the wedding of Elton John, as if to disprove accusations of homophobia, his disrespectful attitude toward women was a turnoff. It didn't seem right to be having so much fun with a character like that.

A trailer for the new movie Get Rich or Die Tryin' kicked off 50's performance, followed by exploding flashpots as the marble-mouthed superstar, in a black G-Unit sweatshirt over a red shirt over a white T-shirt, greeted the crowd with What Up Gangsta. He was down to the white shirt by the start of the next song. With a middle-finger salute to the police, 50 went into his bass-heavy shtick, drawling about revenge, money and guns in Gunz Come Out and Die Tonight.

The going was slow heading out to the Corel Centre and it didn't get any faster in the lineup, as almost every person with a ticket was subjected to a sweep with a hand-held metal detector and patted down for contraband.

Police officers on all-terrain vehicles patrolled the parking lots; even more officers in bulletproof vests kept a watchful eye on concertgoers buying drinks (which they were not allowed to take to their seats) and merchandise.

Most of the audience had not made it to their seats by 8 p.m., when beauty queen Rhianna opened the show with a energetic performance that featured two backup dancers and a DJ, highlighted by a lively version of her hit song, Pon de Replay.

Toronto's Kardinal Offishall represented the Canadian hip-hop scene with a set that involved much arm- and hat-waving, and an attempt to encourage bra-waving, without much success.

Between sets, a chant of 50-50-50 rose from the crowd to welcome their hip-hop anti-hero.

Curtis Jackson's journey has taken him from Halifax to Ottawa in the past week, with a kick-off date in Vancouver on Dec. 3. His concert was a fairly expensive outing in a month already brimming with Christmas gatherings and overspending opportunities.

That -- and his glaring lack of Christmas spirit -- is probably the reason the numbers this tour were smaller than the last time 50 mounted a Canadian tour (about a year-and-a-half ago). It's not that he's less popular than he was in 2004 -- if anything, he's even bigger.

This year, the artist they call Fiddy put out a best-selling disc, The Massacre, as well as a semi-autobiographical movie, an ultra-violent video game and a book. But in recent weeks, most of his publicity has been generated by the Canadian government.

Last month, Toronto Liberal MP Dan McTeague asked Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to deny the rapper the ministerial permit he needed to cross the border on the grounds that his concerts promote gun violence. The ensuing debate veered into censorship.

50 got his permit and crossed the border, but several other members of G-Unit, his backing crew, didn't get through customs, leaving Fiddy and Lloyd Banks to carry the show.


50 Cent pokes fun at Canadian officials

December 21, 2005
Toronto Star (Canadian Press)

Rapper 50 Cent ignored the concerns of politicians who tried to prevent him from entering Canada due to fears of gun violence, delivering a concert for thousands of Toronto fans Tuesday night in a city stigmatized by a record number of firearm-related murders this year.

While performing hits like What Up Gangsta, Gunz Come Out and I'm Supposed to Die Tonight, 50 Cent mocked Canadian officials who refused to allow several members of G-Unit, his musical entourage, to enter the country due to various legal problems.

"We went on tour everywhere else, but they stopped us from bringing them into Canada," he said, eliciting a round of boos from about 5,000 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.

It was the only moment during the concert when the hip-hop artist commented on accusations by police and federal politicians that his immensely popular style of gangsta rap promotes gun violence.

The issue took on extra significance in Toronto, where 50 people have been killed by gunfire this year.

Concert organizers, well aware that flying bullets have marred 50 Cent shows in the past, beefed up security with uniformed and plainclothes officers both inside and outside the show.

But fans - mostly 20-something men and women - waiting to enter the arena slammed the officials who tried to play censor.

"I listen to that stuff and I'm not going around killing people," scoffed Andre Malais, a 23-year-old York University business graduate. "It's entertainment - enjoy it for what it is."

Before entering the arena, fans were patted down, required to go through a metal detector and videotaped as dozens of police officers and security guards kept watch.

"It's a little much," said 18-year-old Ashlee Goheen of Wasaga Beach, Ont.

Toronto police Staff Sgt. Frank Besenthal said concertgoers were co-operative, and he denied the extra measures were prompted by past incidents at 50 Cent shows.

During a 50 Cent concert in Toronto on Canada Day in 2003, a 24-year-old Hamilton man was fatally gunned down at close range.

In April 2004, a man in his 20s was shot after the rapper performed at Montreal's Bell Centre. The victim, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, survived.

Last month near Pittsburgh, a 30-year-old man was shot to death outside a theatre screening 50 Cent's movie biography, Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

The New York City rapper's visit to Canada has generated a storm of controversy since Liberal MP Dan McTeague asked Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to bar 50 Cent from crossing the border, alleging his music glorifies a life of crime.

But 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, was granted a temporary resident's permit, allowing him to perform here. He needed the permit because of his criminal record.

Despite the tight security, the night was not without moments of levity.

In between energizing the audience with hit singles Just a Lil Bit, 21 Questions and In Da Club, 50 Cent flirted with a young woman in the front row.

"You like me? You just met me!" he said, grinning.

Throughout the evening, he doused the crowd with water, occasionally stopping to pick up several thongs, bras and a wig tossed his way.

"What was this, your ponytail?" he laughed.

Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall, one of the concert's opening acts, implored the audience to raise their middle fingers to the politicians who tried to prevent 50 Cent from performing in the country.

"I heard they was asking if you were scared to come to the show," he shouted to the crowd, prompting a chorus of boos.

The surging popularity of 50 Cent is largely based on a thug image that reflects his gritty past.

In song, he plays up his reputation with lyrics such as, "I'll have your mama picking out your casket, bastard."

He travels in a bulletproof SUV, wears a bulletproof vest and was shot at nine times in a gang-related incident in 2000.

The 30-year-old rapper, who is also riding high from the recent release of the hot-selling video game 50 Cent: Bulletproof, ends his tour Wednesday in Ottawa.


Live Review: 50 Cent in T.O.

50 Cent shortchanges

December 21, 2005
Toronto Sun
By Sherri Wood

TORONTO -- For our cave-dwelling readers: Please be advised that hardcore gangsta rapper 50 Cent was in town for an uber-hyped show at the Ricoh Coliseum last night.

Despite Liberal MP Dan McTeague's much-publicized efforts to have the former crack dealer banned from entering Canada, 50 Cent, a.k.a. "Fiddy," successfully made it to the Toronto stage - but much of his G-Unit crew were notably absent.

"They didn't want us in Canada - we've been on tour everywhere else, worldwide, but they didn't want us here," 50 Cent lamented.

"I would have brought Mobb Deep, M.O.P. and Tony Yayo but they wouldn't let them come. Yayo's on parole and can travel, too. They didn't even let me bring Olivia - what the f--k did they think Olivia was gonna do?"

Apparently he was allowed to bring Lloyd Banks, who was first to hit the stage to introduce Fiddy to the crowd - but only after a screening of the trailer for his semi-autobiographical Hollywood flick Get Rich Or Die Tryin' and a subsequent video montage that included press footage, music video clips, celebrity accolades and flashes of various magazine covers - all 50 Cent related, of course.

The self-absorbed show starter effectively set the tone for the rest of the concert, which certainly didn't lack any of the token gangsta rap ego or mock gunshots, which hung over the set like a big-top circus tent.

Through the course of the evening, concert-goers were barraged with a whack of thinly veiled sales pitches, with all lines leading to Fiddy, whose real name is Curtis Jackson. In case we forgot, we were reminded of his empire, one that includes a multi-million-dollar deal with Reebok (G-Unit sneakers), bottled vitamin water, a video game (50 Cent: Bulletproof), a G-Unit clothing line, upcoming G-Unit CD releases and, of course, the signature feuds with other rappers.

"If y'all like the album The Documentary, make some noise," 50 Cent prompted, referring to the album by The Game, a former G-Unit member, rumoured to have been booted out of the crew by its leader for alleged disloyalty. The crowd cheered, to which the MC replied: "Thank you. I wrote it."

He later said he also wrote Lil' Kim's Magic Stick and then criticized her for getting breast implants and other plastic surgery (which evidently wasn't an issue moments later when the crowd was treated to video flashes of naked, breast-implanted women being doused in champagne by the rapper).

Highlights of the show included an appearance by fellow G-Unit member Mase (decked out in a rather dashing fur coat) and show opener and Toronto's own Kardinal Offishall, who got props from 50 Cent for his slick dance moves.

Much of the set included tracks off 2005's The Massacre, including Disco Inferno, Candy Shop and Piggy Bank and a few from the rapper's most recent album, the Get Rich Or Die Tryin' soundtrack, including the chart-active Window Shopper. Past hits In Da Club, P.I.M.P. and Wanksta were also touched on, although the latter was cut short after a ratty hair piece was thrown at the rapper.

"Which one of you b--ches lost your hair?" he shouted, after stopping the song. "I've seen a lot of s--t, but damn! I'm gonna keep this s--t, so now I got a ponytail to remember tonight."

It wasn't the first of the gifts offered to the Grammy-nominated MC over the course of the night. He also received thong underwear and a bra - both of which he stuffed in his pocket.

Even though 50 Cent rarely finished a song (the frustrating stop-go set was mostly made up of song snippets), the young crowd of approximately 5,000 never tired of the rapper's antics or the numerous simulated gun shots.

Hands in the air, shouting every word along with him, they seemed to be having just as much fun as the hustler himself.

"I'm having so much fun," 50 Cent mused. "I can't believe they pay me to do this s--t."


Concert killing

December 20, 2005
Pulse 24 - City TV 

It’s the reason 50 Cent is so associated with violence in Toronto.

While the rap star himself has never fired a shot in anger in this city, many worry his concerts stir up the kind of aggressive feelings that lead others to pick up a gun.

That may be what happened on July 2, 2003, as thousands streamed out of the musician’s show at the Toronto Amphitheatre.

No one knows why 24-year-old Msemaji Granger was targeted by his killers that night. But they know the victim was the last person anyone expected to be gunned down in cold blood.

Granger was a student at McMaster University, the grandson of a United Nations official and the son of a prominent New York university professor.

He had hopes for a hip hop career, but it was cut tragically short by his killing.

“It would appear from the evidence at the scene that this person was targeted,” outlined Det. Sgt. Cory Bockus. “The shots were fired at close range at this victim.”

Cops were left with so many unanswered questions – how did the two men accused of shooting Granger in the head and back know where to find him in the thousands of people leaving the venue?

Why didn’t any of his friends come forward and talk to police?

And what happened during the show that sparked such a violent vendetta?

They believe witnesses may have mistaken the shots for fireworks, which were being launched as part of Canada Day weekend celebrations at the time the concert let out.

Both his family and police admit they had few answers.

“He was playful, jovial, warm, the word sweet comes to mind,” lamented his uncle Gerard Byam. “His death has created a vast and a gigantic hole in our lives and without him we are completely out of balance.”

Despite a long and rigorous investigation, the killers have never been caught.

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The rap star himself has been involved in the odd shoot-out but it’s his reputation and the violence that surrounds him that worries so many. Here’s a look at just some of the incidents involving 50 Cent.

* November 9, 2005 A shooting outside 50 Cent’s autobiographical movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” in Pittsburgh is reportedly linked to an old prison dispute between the victim and his alleged assailant.

* October 10, 2005 A Pennsylvania theatre stops showing "Get Rich or Die Tryin' after a man is fatally shot following a screening of the film. Other theatre chains follow suit after similar violent outbursts are reported.

* March 1, 2005 A man is shot in the leg after 50 Cent appears at a local New York City radio station for an interview. The 24-year-old victim is identified as a member of the rap star’s entourage. The shooting comes shortly after the musician confirms he’s dropping The Game as his protégé.

* April 24, 2004 A man is shot following a 50 Cent concert at Montreal’s Bell Centre. In a move that speaks volumes about how people attend his shows, the would-be victim wasn’t seriously hurt – he was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time.

* September 9, 2003 Someone takes a shot at the rap star as he tries to check into a hotel in Jersey City, New Jersey. The bullet misses its target and the singer and his entourage dive into some waiting SUVs and peel off out of the parking lot.  A security guard who worked for the musician is later arrested, although the reason why he allegedly fired the gun isn’t clear.

* July 2, 2003 A 24-year-old McMaster student is hunted down and killed as he emerges from a 50 Cent show near Ontario Place. The motive remains a mystery.


Rap trap?

December 19, 2005
Pulse24 - City TV

He comes loaded with talent. His audience may come loaded with bullets.

That’s the fear that surrounds rapper 50 Cent’s Toronto show on Tuesday. The musician is set to perform at the Ricoh Coliseum, just months after the city experienced the summer of the gun.

At least two people have been shot at the rap star’s previous Canadian performances. In 2003, a man was gunned down outside the Molson Amphitheatre downtown. It happened again in Montreal the following year.

Toronto Police are worried that with the current tensions in the city, we could see history repeat itself here. That’s why music lovers won’t be the only ones attending the show. Cops will be there, too.

“Any type of venue like this, it heightens up our awareness and so we just want to make sure that there are enough people there so that the people who do attend, they feel comfortable and safe,” explains Sgt. Frank Besenthal.

But some fans don’t know what all the fuss and controversy is about.

“I'm personally going to go to the show," insists a local entrepreneur known as 'Apple'. “I'm not a violent person. I'm a businessman, you know what I'm saying? I think people that don't understand the music, you know, they put their opinions on the music and they label it wrong.”

People like MP Dan McTeague, who tried to stop the musician from getting into Canada a few months ago, citing his criminal past. It didn’t work.

Anti-violence activist Valerie Smith agrees with McTeague's efforts.

“He totally promotes gun violence,” she argues. “And I really resent the fact that he was allowed to come here and do more of that when we're just reeling from shooting to shooting.”

But Apple doesn’t buy it. “I think it may be putting too much negative energy on trying to prevent this man from coming, and at the end of the day he wins because he still comes.”

Not all of 50 Cent’s violent rep has been directed at his fans. The singer, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, was himself the target of gunfire several times. His mother was murdered in a drug deal and he was shot five years ago. Fifty Cent was hit by three of nine bullets fired at him as he sat in a car with a friend.


Cops to keep tabs on 50 Cent crowd

Two shot after previous shows

December 18, 2005
Toronto Sun
By Tom Godfrey

Toronto Police say there have been two shootings after gangsta rapper 50 Cent's shows in Canada and they aren't taking any chances for his gig here on Tuesday.

One man was killed in Toronto and another shot in Montreal following 50 Cent concerts, police said.

"Violent incidents have been known to occur at his shows," said Det.-Sgt. Doug Quan, of the gun and gangs task force. "There will be a contingent of plainclothes officers in attendance."

Shot nine times

The rapper, who has been shot nine times, has been on a Canadian tour that will bring him to the CNE's Ricoh Coliseum in two days.

"We are there to monitor things and make sure no crimes occur," Quan said.

A Canada Customs rap unit also has flagged bandmembers and supporters with criminal records who may try to sneak into the country for the shows, police said.

The rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, was a crack and heroin dealer.

Known for his rapid-fire delivery, 50 Cent spits out rap interlaced with sounds of gunshots. His hits include Whattup Gangsta, Wanksta and P.I.M.P.

In 2003, Msemji Granger, 24, of Hamilton, was killed leaving the Molson Amphitheatre after a 50 Cent show. The gunmen fled in crowds attending fireworks at Ontario Place to celebrate Canada Day.

And in April last year, a man wearing a bulletproof vest was shot at a Montreal show.

The rapper, who was in Toronto last summer filming Get Rich Or Die Tryin', made front page news when Liberal MP Dan McTeague tried to have him barred from Canada because of his criminal record.

"I am really concerned and hope that no more blood is shed," McTeague said last week. "We want to ensure the safety of the community."


Promoters spending lots of $ for 50 Cent concert security

December 13, 2005
The Chronicle Herald
By Bill Power

Security will be tight when rap star 50 Cent and G-Unit take to the stage at the Halifax Metro Centre on Wednesday.

A representative for House of Blues Concerts Canada in Montreal would not discuss numbers but said security for the event will be adequate to ensure a safe concert experience for fans.

Similar comments came from Metro Centre officials.

"I don't think anybody is worried about 50 Cent," said Const. Mark Hobeck of Halifax Regional Police. "It is the fans that are the concern at any big event."

Hip-hop icon 50 Cent is on a Canadian tour to promote his records Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and The Massacre (2005). The current tour is billed as The Massacre.

He also has a new movie out called Get Rich or Die Tryin'. The film was directed by Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan, who also directed My Left Foot and In America.

Although 50 Cent has had a notorious ride to fame, and some Canadian officials wanted to ban his national tour, the entertainer, born Curtis Jackson in 1976, is said to be a focused, clean-living guy.

"He is known for his clean-living dedication to his craft," Const. Hobeck said.

There were rumours Monday that a Halifax security firm is providing more than 100 guards for the Wednesday concert. About 18 regional police officers are also rumoured to be working the event privately.

"This is not something we would discuss," Const. Hobeck said.

An official with House of Blues, who did not want to provide her name, said security is always a sensitive issue for major entertainment events in big urban centres.

"You don't want to give the potential troublemakers any encouragement," she said. "Promoters as a rule will not discuss security arrangements."

Ontario Liberal MP Dan McTeague wanted to keep 50 Cent from visiting Toronto and called on immigration officials to refuse him a visitors permit because he has a criminal record.

50 Cent was raised by his grandparents in New York City after his drug-dealing mother died when he was eight. He later became a crack dealer himself before turning his life around. In May 2000, he was shot several times while sitting in a car in New York.


50 Cent makes you want to buy in

Without full G-Unit, MC puts on concert, marketing clinic

December 4, 2005
Vancouver Province
By Stuart Derdeyn

Mark my words. Someday in the future, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is going to be a sessional instructor at one of the Big 10 business schools. The guy is a marketing genius.

Regardless of how last night's show went down, it marked the birth of in-concert advertising.

After a trailer for his new movie Get Rich Or Die Tryin' -- "Coming This Fall" -- we were treated to an assembled news reel that gave us the rapper's mythologized life with plenty of reminders of his records sales, clothing line, video game and on and on.

If you're buyin' in, and so many are, it only got better.

"Somebody got shot the other day and they said it was my fault and didn't want to let me in the country," said Fifty. "I was in immigration for about two hours today and I thought about turning back. Young Buck got turned back. And Tony Yayo, Mobb Deep and M.O.P."

"But I stuck it out . . . F--k the police!"

Not one person in the ramped venue beefed that the stage was six singers emptier than what they'd paid for. The man who mattered was there and he was rubbing "The Man's" face in it, too. Image upon image of guns and bullet holes marched across the video screens while shots consistently rang out of the sound system. Celebrate the bullet indeed. Firearms manufacturers should be underwriting this tour and using tracks like "Piggy Bank" for ad campaigns.

Later, he led his troops, er, audience, in a rallying cry in honour of all the dead rappers before introducing Ma$e (was that a chronic cold affecting his voice?) and his non-PETA-pal fur hoodie. No comments on the culture of macho-man-killing that lead to Biggie, Tupac and others winding up dead required. Leave the sermonizing to Kanye West.

This was Mr. Tha Cent's house -- a sanctuary of very elementary messages and killer hooks.

Truth be told, the minute the canned pre-show tunage turned to classics from Dr. Dre and Snoop's back catalogue, the place went off. Warmup music typically means nothing more than that. But with a truly dancefloor-based musical style, even the dismal confines of a former hockey arena can change to feel like it's pumpin' "In Da Club."

After Lloyd Banks' "On Fire" and the addictive soundtrack ditty "Window Shopper" (which featured the voice and stomach of Olivia -- presumably Olivia, because the new G-Unit-eer didn't merit a cheering intro from the boss), there was no looking back.

"I'm always learning my trade," says Jackson. "That's how you stay on top of your game."

Compared to his last show in town, when David Banner took home top honours, this time Fifty came ready to kill live.

He certainly has enough of his brand of bravado to carry a concert. Fans would say more hits than misses mean the Queens, New York, MC is always on target.

To be sure, even short a full clip of G-Units, it was a high-calibre presentation.


Get mad, we're bein' had, gangsta rap's really bad

December 1, 2005
Globe and Mail
By Margaret Wente

At the Urban Music Awards in Toronto the other night, everybody dissed the people who think there's something wrong with rap music. Everybody, that is, except for one of the special guests, a mother whose son had been gunned down on the street. There is something wrong with rap music, she said, just as there is something wrong with killing someone at a church funeral. Rap music is not harmless. It glorifies the culture of violence that killed her son.

That is not the fashionable position. What's fashionable is making fun of the stupid politician who wants the rapper 50 Cent banned from Canada. And, of course, his position is absurd. What's the point in banning 50 Cent when his music and his image are available any time, any place, anywhere, and the kids at Jane and Finch internalized his every move long ago? You might as well try to ban the air they breathe.

Sophisticated people know that violent, misogynistic lyrics are inherently harmless. They're a form of social protest, or just a way to work off steam. Look at Mick. If obnoxious lyrics lead to violence, then why haven't 100 million Rolling Stone fans run amok?

Eugene Rivers has a view on that. I wrote about him last week. He's the black pastor from Boston who argues that underclass culture, not racism, is to blame for Toronto's deadly guns-and-gangs crisis.

Mr. Rivers maintains that for adolescent white males, who make up its biggest audience, gangsta rap is relatively harmless. Like the Rolling Stones, rappers offer rebellion on the cheap -- a low-cost way to give the finger to authority, have an outlaw fantasy life, and drive your parents nuts, without any social consequences. The white kids "go off to college, put on a suit and go to work at Morgan Stanley". But for black kids who grow up without family discipline, a sense of law and order, or alternative role models, gangsta rap "has an absolutely catastrophic effect".

Call it the Murphy Brown mistake -- the belief by large segments of the educated overclass that underclass culture is really very cool. And it is -- for the overclass. After all, when an affluent thirtysomething white career woman has a baby out of wedlock, chances are things will be okay. When a poor black 17-year-old does the same thing, chances are things won't be okay at all.

When a juvenile outlaw culture is the only one available to adolescent males, there's going to be trouble. And when famous rappers dictate the behaviour code, watch out. A few weeks ago, a platinum-selling rap star named Cam'ron Giles was shot in both arms while tooling around Washington in his $250,000 royal blue Lamborghini. The mystery of who shot him, and why, is a hot topic in the hip hop world. But the police investigation has gone nowhere, because nobody, least of all Cam'ron, will talk. If he did, he'd lose his street cred. "It's not in our nature," his rapping buddy told The Washington Post.

Needless to say, the shooting has been good for Cam'ron's career. His next album is called Killa Season, and, as one fan said, "this is definitely going to help his sales."

Among the fiercest critics of hip hop culture is John McWhorter, a black American academic. Two years ago, he wrote a blistering essay called "How hip hop holds blacks back", in which he traced the decline of rap from happy party music to the ugly glorification of thug life, bling, easy money, fast cars and woman-bashing. "Of course, not all hip hop is belligerent or profane", he wrote. "But it's the nastiest rap that sells best, and the nastiest cuts that make a career." Today, hip hop is a billion-dollar industry, and stars such as 50 Cent and Cam'ron Giles are extremely rich.

Mr. McWhorter argues that the attitude and style expressed in the hip hop "identity" keep blacks down. "Almost all hip hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming a common speech style among young black males. The problem with such speech and mannerisms is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede a young black's ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers. The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility to the passing kick of an adversarial hip hop 'identity'."

But when hip hop is all there is, don't expect the music to fade any time soon.


Gangsta rapper 50 Cent granted visa to tour Canada over MPs' protests

December 1, 2005
National Post

Rapper 50 Cent has been given the green light to enter Canada over the objections of Toronto MP Dan McTeague. 50 Cent, who has been shot nine times, was granted a visa by Citizenship and Immigration Canada so he can begin his Canadian tour on Saturday, one of his lawyers said last night.

Mr. McTeague and Tory justice critic Vic Toews argued that the U.S. rapper glorifies gun violence and should not be allowed into Canada. Mr. McTeague wrote to Immigration Minister Joe Volpe urging him not to grant 50 Cent a permit to enter the country. "His music is anti-social. It violates the basic values that Canadians stand for ... the respect for human beings, the respect for police officers," Mr. Toews said.


50 Cent cleared to go ahead with Canadian tour

November 30, 2005
CTV.ca
News Staff

American rapper 50 Cent has the green light to perform in Canada just in time for the Dec. 3 launch of his cross-Canada tour.

Despite the objections of a Liberal MP, 50 Cent -- or "Fiddy" as he's also known -- was granted a temporary resident visa by Immigration Canada, according to The Globe and Mail.

The hip-hop star, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, is required to obtain a ministerial permit to enter Canada because of his criminal record.

50 Cent is no stranger to violence. The admitted former drug dealer was famously shot nine times and his songs reflect the hard life he led on the streets of Queen's, New York. His life story recently became the subject of a new movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

Earlier in the month, Toronto-area Liberal MP Dan McTeague pressed the government to bar the rapper on the grounds of his criminal record, because his music allegedly glorifies gun violence.

"I think it's the timing on this . more than anything else," McTeague said, in an appearance on CTV's Canada AM last week.

"Toronto has witnessed an unprecedented number of young violent deaths as a result of gang warfare, gang culture."

He also expressed concern over shootings that have occurred at 50 Cent's concerts.

"The last time he was here in 2003 in my city and in the GTA, a man was killed at the Molson Amphitheatre. Another attempt was made in Montreal at the next concert," McTeague said.

But Ben Trister, the rapper's immigration lawyer, told The Globe and Mail that it's wrong to suggest 50 Cent's music promotes violence.

A 24-year-old was shot dead after a 50 Cent concert in Toronto in 2003, but the crime took place four km away from the venue, Trister said.

The Canadian tour is scheduled to start Dec. 3 in Vancouver, with stops in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and Saint John, N.B.


How Canada deals with rapper 50 Cent 

November 25, 2005
Globe and Mail Editorial

American "gangsta" rapper 50 Cent, a.k.a. Curtis Jackson, is scheduled to play a series of concert dates in Canada beginning Dec. 3. Liberal MP Dan McTeague wants federal Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to bar his entry on the grounds that the performer's lyrics and lifestyle promote gang violence. In Toronto, a city still reeling from a recent wave of gang-related murder and mayhem, such a suggestion might readily find a sympathetic audience. Indeed, it might be applauded in other communities as well.

On any number of grounds, however, it's still a regrettable idea.

It's true that Mr. Jackson is unlikely to win many nominations for citizen of the year. Raised by a single mother in Queens, N.Y, Fiddy (as he known to his legions of acolytes) was introduced to the nether worlds of crime and drugs early on. He was arrested on felony drug charges -- for dealing crack -- in 1994, at 19, and eventually served seven months in jail. It is this prior criminal record that would allow Mr. Volpe to deny him entry.

In the thug-ridden neighbourhoods of hip hop, Mr. Jackson seems to show a natural talent for making enemies. In 2000, he was wounded three times in an apparent dispute over drugs, said to involve drug lord Kenneth (Supreme) McGriff. He has also been embroiled in controversies of various sorts with a dozen separate rap artists. This year, gunshots were fired at a New York radio station where Fiddy was an on-air guest, after he summarily dropped another rapper (The Game, né Jayceon Taylor) from his label.

Moreover, whatever the merits of his music, there is no doubt that 50 Cent's lyrics glorify a culture inimical to the values of civil society. One random and relatively tame example (sensitive readers should skip the rest of this paragraph): "I got a itchy itchy trigger finger, nigga its a killa in me not to spray that shit I got enough ammo shots to blow I up a hole in every mothafucka out this bitch . . ." Or another sample: "9 Millimeter Ruger 16 shots, hollow points will go through ya and this? this here? this is a 12 gauge Mossburg kid, two shots and you can wet like half a block this shit here gets my dick hard, it's a Calicko, it holds a Hundred shots if you can't kill your beef with this you need to stop."

Rodgers and Hart, it ain't.

Like other miscreants before him, Mr. Jackson has been co-opted by the very capitalist ethic he purports to despise. He's now a full-throttle entrepreneur, having expanded his burgeoning $100-million empire from rap (an estimated 20 million albums sold) to clothing (Reebok shoes), movies (Get Rich or Die Tryin'), vitamin-enriched water and video games (Bulletproof, which landed in stores this week).

But if Mr. McTeague is correct to decry the mesmerizing effect a gun-toting role model like 50 Cent may have on many young men, his proposed solution is wrong. Why ban his personal appearances when his albums are easily available from music stores and the Internet? Why ban only him and none of dozens of other rap artists whose lyrics and lifestyles are equally noxious, full of violence and degrading to women?

Although many youths may lionize Mr. Jackson, and even seek to emulate him, the tragic propensity of gang-affiliated young men to kill each other for a wayward glance or an offhand remark surely has deeper roots than one gun-fixated rapper's percussion-heavy, monotonic grunting about drugs and sex. Try growing up fatherless, often in poverty, in virtual ghettos, without prospects for education or decent jobs.

We may properly disdain the values and subculture that is celebrated in what passes for 50 Cent's music. We may lament his deleterious influence on the young. There is excellent cause for people to boycott his show and his products, and to urge others to do so. But whatever the degree of toxicity in his act, a free and democratic society must, with the exception of direct incitement to violence, tolerate the expression of ideas it finds objectionable. To bar entry to Curtis Jackson would be an unfortunate step.


Hip-hop mayor of T. Dot

November 28, 2005
Toronto Star
By Ashante Infantry

The capacity crowd inside the Mod Club is lapping up the frenzy onstage. Surrounded by members of his Black Jays collective, rapper Kardinal Offishall is firing tracks from his new album, Fire and Glory. Ostensibly, the audience is hearing these songs for the first time, but they chant along and salute Offishall with raised arms as if they were erstwhile hits.

That's due partly to the artist's anthemic mélange of hip hop and reggae, but mostly to his delivery: vigorous call and response with stagemates Ro Dolla, Riley, Solitiar and Lindo P.

A few days later, Offishall's alter ego, twentysomething Jason Harrow, now low-key and minus the trademark specs, digs into coconut shrimp at his favourite west-end bistro.

"My favourite thing is to just play poker in the backyard and chill," he said. "I save all that rah-rah for the fans. After they work all day, I want them to know they can come to my show and act the fool and have fun."

Maestro is the dean and K-OS has the critical acclaim, but Offishall is Canada's most popular hip-hop export, thanks to collaborations with an international array of artists such as Sean Paul(Jamaica), Method Man and Busta Rhymes (U.S.), and Estelle(U.K.).

And he's a dedicated T.Dot booster, distilling the city's cultural milieu in his rhymes, most notably with 2000's "Bakardi Slang" which detailed the urban Torontospeak for neophytes (When you say "The club is over" Yo we say "The jam done").

"If you go to New York or L.A. and talk about hip hop, he's the one name that everybody knows," says Toronto music journalist Dalton Higgins.

"And here, he can pretty much go into any neighbourhood and have that street respect. He's like the hip-hop mayor."

It's been a long time coming for the York University mass communications grad, who is up for his sixth Canadian Urban Music Award tomorrow.

Though he's been on the scene since the mid-'90s, Fire and Glory is Offishall's first album of new material.

In 2001, MCA released Firestarter Volume 1: Quest for Fire comprised primarily of his independent singles, including hits "Maxine" and "Ol' Time Killing." But when the label folded in 2003, so did his already recorded, much-anticipated follow-up.

But like his song "Husslin," Offishall stayed busy: acting in Love Sex & Eating the Bones and My Baby's Daddy; appearing on the Fast and the Furious 2 soundtrack, and doing ads for Rogers and Honda Civic.

"You can't live in Canada and be an artist just in Canada, and expect that to be all you do if you do black music," he explained. "You don't know how many times I'd be scrambling with overdue bills, then a royalty cheque would arrive from the Method Man (recording) or some random soundtrack in New Zealand."

With Fire and Glory released on his Black Jays imprint, in a co-venture deal with Virgin, Offishall is shopping for a U.S. label and opening for rap superstar 50 Cent's seven-date Canadian tour. The concerts have become controversial since Liberal MP Dan McTeague asked Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to bar the gangsta rapper, real name Curtis Jackson, from crossing the border, because he allegedly promotes gun violence. 50 Cent, or Fiddy, is also a shooting survivor and stars in the film Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

"Not that I agree with everything that 50 says, but 50 is not nearly the cause or even a big part of the problem that's going on here," said Offishall, who shares a New York attorney with the gangsta rapper.

"These kids need other opportunities to keep them from being idle and getting into trouble," he added, nodding to the now- defunct 1993 Toronto Arts Council program where he nurtured his musical interest alongside contemporaries Saukrates, Choclair and Jully Black.

"Fresh Arts saved a lot of us," he said. "My career would not be where it is otherwise. It wasn't only a summer job, but something I wanted to pursue. But I want the youth coming up to know the power is still in their hands — not the police, or the government or the teachers. I don't want to hear that you had no choice but to sell crack; you just don't want to work at McDonald's or the gas station because of your pride. I have yet to meet anyone who sells drugs just so they can buy bread or drive a Honda Civic."

While loath to pinpoint any single artist, Offishall allows that violent, materialistic lyrics are bound to have an impact.

"Even if it's small, it's still a contributor, because music goes with every emotion that we have. If I'm pissed or angry and listen to angry music ... sometimes that helps to put you over the top; but if I go out there and do something stupid it's not 'cause 50 Cent told me to."

On Fire and Glory his subject matter runs from police reform ("Everyday") to spirituality ("Sunday").

Offishall is looking forward to kicking off the 50 Cent tour in Vancouver on Saturday, though it's not a financial windfall.

"Basically, it's like he says `I'm 50 Cent and I don't need anybody to come on tour with me, so hold 50 cents and come on tour with me; if you don't want it, I'll get somebody else.' So it turns out to be more of promotional benefit, a chance to reach a mass of people to tell them to buy the album for Christmas."


MPs add 50 Cent to debate on gun violence

Calls to bar rapper from touring in Canada

November 24, 2005
By Melissa Leong, with files from Kelly Patrick National Post; with files from News Services

Dan McTeague, a Liberal MP, garnered support from an unusual corner yesterday when Tory justice critic Vic Toews joined in his call to prevent U.S. rapper 50 Cent from touring in Canada because he has a criminal record and he glorifies gun violence.

50 Cent, who was once shot nine times in a gang incident, is the star of the recent film Get Rich or Die Tryin', a fictionalized and violent portrayal of his career. He was in Canada this year filming the biopic and is scheduled to launch a Canadian tour -- called the "The Massacre Tour" -- next month.

"When we look at what's happening in places like Toronto, to bring him in with his music that glorifies gun violence, quite frankly I don't care if he's a convicted criminal or not," Mr. Toews said last night.

"His music is anti-social. It violates the basic values that Canadians stands for ... the respect for human beings, the respect for police officers."

Mr. McTeague told CBC television: "I do want the laws of Canada to apply to anybody who is a criminal, an admitted criminal, as Mr. Curtis Jackson -- known as 50 Cent -- is. Under our laws ... he would be deemed criminally inadmissible."

Canadian law dictates that anyone with a criminal record needs a special permit from the office of Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to enter the country. Mr. McTeague has written to Mr. Volpe urging him not to grant the permit.

Mr. Volpe declined to discuss the case with reporters but said he too was concerned by the rising gun violence in Toronto.

Although 50 Cent has acknowledged spending time behind bars, the status of his criminal record is not clear. Representatives for the star did not immediately reply to requests for clarification.

Mr. McTeague said the last time 50 Cent gave a concert in Toronto in 2003, one person was killed outside the theater.

Stockwell Day, the Tory foreign affairs critic, said when he heard the rapper was coming, he sought out his music.

"I wanted to see for myself some of his lyrics and what he promotes -- it's pretty vile stuff," he said.  "His comments toward girls and women, if anyone else had made those, the mainstream media would tear that person apart, but because you say you're a rapper, you get a free pass.

"I don't care who does it, I find it offensive."

However, Mr. Day said if 50 Cent is not breaking the law in Canada, he has freedom of speech and the right to be here.

The rapper said on Tuesday that parents should buy their children his new video game - rated "mature" for blood, gore and sexual themes - and use it as a teaching tool.  In the game, 50 Cent is depicted making his way through New York's underworld with armed guards and guns blazing.


Canada legislator seeks to bar U.S. rapper 50 Cent

November 23, 2005
Wired News

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government should ban U.S. rapper 50 Cent from touring Canada later this year because he has a criminal record and glorifies gun violence, a legislator from the ruling Liberal party said on Wednesday.

50 Cent, who was once shot nine times on the street in a gang incident, is the star of the recent film "Get Rich or Die Tryin,"' a fictionalized and violent portrayal of his career.

Junior Foreign Minister Dan McTeague said the rapper's message was inappropriate at a time when Toronto, Canada's largest city, was experiencing a surge in shooting deaths.

"I do want the laws of Canada to apply to anybody who is a criminal, an admitted criminal, as Mr Curtis Jackson -- known as 50 Cent -- is. Under our laws ... he would be deemed criminally inadmissible," he told CBC television.

Canadian law dictates that anyone with a criminal record needs a special permit from the office of Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to enter the country. McTeague has written to Volpe urging him not to grant the permit.

Volpe declined to discuss the case with reporters but said he too was concerned by the rising gun violence in Toronto, where 49 people have been killed so far this year, many of them young black men.

Although 50 Cent has acknowledged spending time behind bars, the current status of his criminal record is not clear. Representatives for the star did not immediately reply to requests for clarification.

McTeague criticised 50 Cent for "the message at this time that he brings, one of glorifying gun violence, often (the) denigration of women" and said the last time he gave a concert in Toronto in 2003, one person was killed outside the theater.

The rapper is due to start a Canadian tour in December.

Last month the distributor of "Get Rich or Die Tryin"' took down some movie billboards near Los Angeles-area schools after community leaders complained they glorified gangs and violence. The posters showed 50 Cent holding a microphone in one hand and a gun in the other.

"If we have young people as young as 14 leading gangs in my community around Toronto, we have to take into consideration that the message is often going to very impressionable people who think nothing of human life," said McTeague.

The rapper told Reuters on Tuesday that parents should buy their children his new video game and use it as a teaching tool. In the game, 50 Cent is depicted making his way through New York's underworld with armed guards and guns blazing.


Liberal MP calls on immigration minister to ban rapper over gun lyrics

November 23, 2005
National Post
Bu Terry Pedwell

OTTAWA (CP) - Immigration Minister Joe Volpe has been asked by one of his Liberal colleagues to prevent rap artist Fifty Cent from coming to Canada.

Born Curtis Jackson in Queen's N.Y., Fifty Cent - or "Fiddy" as he's known in rap circles - is scheduled to launch a Canadian tour Dec. 3 in Vancouver. But the rapper promotes gun violence, says Toronto MP Dan McTeague, who wants Volpe to turn back Fifty Cent at the border. "I don't think people in Toronto or any urban centre need or want to hear Mr. Jackson's message right now," McTeague said.

The musician performed in Toronto in 2003, where McTeague points out there was a shooting.

"I think it's time we send a message of our own to those who glorify violence that their gratuitous violence and movies are not welcome in our country," McTeague said. "We need to do a better job at protecting Canadians from people who's message runs counter to all of our efforts of trying to curb gun violence."

A spokesman for Volpe was unaware of the letter when contacted late Tuesday.

But the minister would not comment about an individual case anyway, said Steven Heckbert.

"Whether the minister or departmental officials make a decision about intervening or not, it's really not appropriate for us to be talking about it in a public forum," said Heckbert.

The rapper has a criminal record, and would be required to obtain a ministerial permit to enter Canada, although such permits are issued regularly, he added.

"It's permission that's granted typically about 12,000 times a year," said Heckbert. "In many of those cases the minister does not intervene directly. The department has delegated authority to make such decisions.

Some U.S. critics have criticized Fifty Cent's music for celebrating guns and drugs, without any emphasis on social or moral consciousness.

Paramount Pictures last month pulled some billboards for the movie Get Rich or Die Tryin after community activists complained they glorified gun violence in tough areas of south Los Angeles.

The posters featured Fifty Cent, the movie's star, holding a gun in his left hand and a microphone in his right.

The singer denounced the move as proof that rappers get a bad rap when it comes to violence.

Fifty Cent's Canadian tour is also scheduled for performances in Halifax, Saint John, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa.

It's not known if the musician obtained a special permit to enter Canada in advance of booking his tour dates.

A coalition of African-Canadian organizations met Tuesday with Prime Minister Paul Martin in Ottawa, urging him to adopt a program to curb the escalating gun violence in Toronto.

Four dozen shootings in Toronto this year, out of a total of 70 homicides, involved guns.


Bullet-proof vest protects Montreal concert-goer

April 24, 2004
Toronto Sun

MONTREAL (CP) -  A bullet-proof vest prevented a man from suffering serious injury during a shooting after a 50 Cent concert. The life of a man in his 20s wasn't in danger because of the vest.

The shooting took place outside the Bell Centre after the concert.

A male and a female suspect were apprehended by an off-duty police officer at the scene, said a police spokesman.


Man killed outside Jay-Z/50 Cent concert in Toronto

July 4, 2003
Yahoo News

Msemji Granger, 24, of Hamilton, Ontario, was shot several times at close range by two unidentified assailants while leaving the Roc The Mic concert at Toronto's Molson Amphitheater on Tuesday (July 1), according to Billboard.

At approximately 10:20 p.m., Granger, who was leaving the concert which featured Jay-Z and 50 Cent, was shot in the head and upper body. He died on Wednesday (July 2) from his injuries. The two gunmen were able to blend in with the crowd in the venue's parking lot and were not apprehended.

The shooting occurred while fireworks were going off at nearby Ontario Place to celebrate Canada Day. According to Det. Sgt. Cory Bockus, Granger, who with a group of friends, was targeted and not the victim of a random shooting.

The Roc The Mic tour is slated to hit Virginia Beach, Virginia next on Saturday (July 5).