50 Cent looks like a million bucks, his NFL physique constrained by a fitted grey suit that he’s complemented with a shimmering gold Jesus piece the size of my fist—and a smile even wider than that. The rapper-cum-entrepreneur is also, apparently, bankrupt.
He’s in town to promote the upcoming third season of Starz’s hit series Power, an urban parable that he co-created, executive produces, and stars in. As part of a longer piece to run closer to the show’s July 17th premiere, I asked the man formerly known as Curtis Jackson about his dire financial straits—since the “In Da Club” emcee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 13, 2015, with assets and liabilities hovering around the $50 million mark. The news left many scratching their heads, given that he was listed as one of the richest rappers in the game just a few months earlier in Forbes with an estimated net worth of $155 million.
“My money? I have a lot of money,” 50 Cent replies, flashing his signature grin.
A far more likely scenario is that the bankruptcy declaration was a clever way for the star to shield himself from recent financial losses, including a $5 million judgment against him to rap rival Rick Ross’s ex, whose sex tape 50 Cent doctored and posted online, as well as a $17.2 million arbitration award against him in a suit with the headphone maker Sleek Audio.
One person who knows a thing or four about filing for bankruptcy is Donald J. Trump, the real estate heir turned presumptive Republican nominee for president. While Donald hasn’t filed for bankruptcy himself, his corporations have filed for Chapter 11 four times. “[Trump] knows about it. He’s done it four times!” jokes 50 Cent. “Donald Trump… You know, what’s interesting is the court system doesn’t know the difference between what you can say in entertainment, and what you say under oath, so you have to be really careful with what you say.”
Despite their Queens roots—and shared interest in filing for Chapter 11—50 Cent is not the biggest fan of The Donald.
“Trump makes me like Hillary more,” he says, before pausing for a moment to reflect on Trump’s rise to POTUS nominee. “Look, I think it’s confirmation that you can buy what you want. I didn’t see him as a potential candidate for president, and it’s amazing that he could make the purchase—buy the spot. The big part of his campaign is that he’s financing it, right? He’s paying his own way. So he’s already going to receive the returns. Now, he’s someone who could potentially run America, so he’s already paid himself. You know how much they’ll pay Trump to do public speaking, whether he becomes the president or not? It’s already worth it!”
I mention how, even though he’s amassed a large and feverishly devoted following, Trump may be persona non grata in New York City if he loses to Hillary Clinton—pointing to how the former Celebrity Apprentice host was loudly booed as he entered the U.S. Open this past summer (and in his native Queens, no less). “A lot of places he’ll get booed, but there are a lot of places where he won’t,” says 50 Cent. “There are a lot of people who share those views. If not, he wouldn’t be a legitimate candidate. He’s still winning some of the fuckin’ vote! It’s fuckin’ nuts.”