50 Cent live in Manchester: Fiddy toasts ‘Get Rich…’s 20th anniversary with a blockbuster spectacle

November 11, AO Arena: The rapper-turned-mogul flits between gangsta rapper and family-fun entertainer with a toast to his '00s breakthrough

Sirens blare as 50 Cent enters the stage encased in a smoke-filled glass box, one that’s accompanied by the kind of apocalyptic lightning strikes that you might expect whenever villainous Suella Braverman laughs. He launches into ‘I’m On Some Shit’ and ‘What Up Gangsta’, the latter from his 2003 debut album ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’’ – it is a fittingly blockbuster opening for such a juggernaut record.

This ‘Final Lap’ tour coincides with that record’s 20th anniversary – which cast Fiddy as an authentic thug deity in a climate where rappers were serrating their edges for crossover success. Before he concentrated on being an actor, producer and media mogul (his last album was released in 2014), Fiddy – real name Curtis Jackson – was once known as much for his nihilistic personal life, jail sentences and endless feuds as his music. He was dropped by his record label Columbia and his first mooted record ‘Power of the Dollar’ was shelved when he was shot nine times, aged 25, in 2000. But two years later he was signed up by Eminem for ‘Get Rich…’ – which is now five times platinum in the UK – featuring forward-thinking production by Dr Dre. Needless to say, he had the last laugh.

Two decades later, the AO Arena is teeming with a family-fun intergenerational audience, as parents have brought their kids adorned in outsized 50 Cent merch. He delivers a 90-minute performance big on spectacle, costume changes, pyro and lasers. During the snaking groove of ‘P.I.M.P.’, he descends from a tower of lights on wires (sadly not upside-down like the ‘In Da Club’ video or his much-memed Super Bowl appearance), while inventive shifting backgrounds take us to various New York locales, into da Club, and Tron-like futuristic landscapes.

Flanked by two G-Unit lieutenants and backed by a full-band on raised platforms, his mammoth 34-song set whirrs by in mixtape style. And in a nostalgic set, some moments naturally feel unreconstructed – such as when women clad in PVC outfits perform lapdances to 48-year-old Fiddy and his crew during his lubricious 2003 Lil’ Kim team-up ‘Magic Stick’; or when Jeremih – who apart from joining Fiddy for their collab ‘Down On Me’, also acts as a support act alongside Busta Rhymes – performs a solo interlude version of ‘Birthday Sex’, while seemingly miming cunnilingus with a dancer spread-eagled over the piano.


That aside, a party atmosphere reigns: through the ’00s motifs of the Neptunes’ sparse funk on ‘Candy Shop’, Timbaland’s ‘Disco Inferno’ and a lovelorn ’21 Questions’. A version of his Pop Smoke team-up ‘The Woo’, which is dedicated to his late prodigy who was shot and killed in 2020, acts a sobering reminder of those who don’t survive 50 Cent’s own glock-fuelled creation myth outlined in the stark ‘Many Men (Death Wish)’.

As confetti spunks into the crowd during a joyous ‘In Da Club’, prompting the kind of audience moves flaunted at every kids’ birthday bash, Fiddy has proved that, while music has been parked for the last decade, he still has the magnetism to demonstrate why he was such a big deal in the first place.

50 Cent played:

‘I’m On Some Shit’
‘What Up Gangsta’
‘I Get Money’
‘Hate It or Love It’
‘If I Can’t’
‘Magic Stick’
‘Hustler’s Ambition’
‘How We Do’
‘Candy Shop’
‘Disco Inferno’
‘Window Shopper’
‘Best Friend’
’21 Questions’
‘Just a Lil Bit’
‘Big Rich Town’
‘The Woo’
‘Ayo Technology’
‘Down on Me’
‘Birthday Sex’
‘Baby by Me’
‘Many Men (Wish Death)’
‘I’m The Man’
‘In da Club’
‘Hate Bein’ Sober’
‘Patiently Waiting’
‘Cuffin Season’
‘Statute of Limitations’
‘Stunt 101’
‘Poor Lil’ Rich’
‘Back Down’
‘I’ll Whip ya Head Boy’


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