The Best 50 Cent Songs, Ranked

Twenty years ago this week, 50 Cent dropped his debut album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.

I want you to understand something about this. I am in no way, shape, or form exaggerating in even the teeny tiniest little bit when I say that this album F*CKED THE GAME UP. We talk a lot in this business about “groundbreaking,” “earth-shattering,” or even paradigm-shifting albums. Usually, that’s a bunch of nonsense. But this time? This time, it’s all the way real.

The strongest way that I can put it is that Get Rich Or Die Trying had roughly the same effect on teenage boys in 2003 that The Beatles coming to America had on teenage girls in 1964. Again, I am not exaggerating. A lot of credit has been given to Eminem, 50’s mentor and patron as the head of Shady Records (which released the album), for popularizing rap for a generation of white kids.

I respectfully submit that a lot of that credit should go to 50 Cent, who seemingly overnight spawned a multimedia empire, spurred by untold legions of suburban youths living out their gangsta fantasies vicariously through his debut album to the tune of 11 million records sold globally by 2020. This was before streaming.

This was at the height of Jay-Z’s reign. 50 Cent was a cultural phenom, upending hip-hop’s then-dominant party music status quo and bringing back something akin to menace, and the kids couldn’t get enough.

In honor of this actual game-changer, Yoh and I are counting down the best 50 Cent songs.

34. “U Not Like Me”

One of the lower-key songs from 50’s debut is a defiant challenge to haters, biters, enemies, and snitches that showcases his way with blunt-spoken-but-effective wordplay. As 50 compares all those against him to his superior circumstances, the scintillating Red Spyda beat clinks away behind him, reminding of the run of mixtape dominance that led to 50 rising above the competition. – Aaron Williams

33. “When It Rains It Pours”

Appearing on the Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ soundtrack, “When It Rains It Pours” is desperado music, updated for the modern-day black hats that 50 represents. Of course, the rain in question is hot lead, turning the Che Vicious production into an ominous warning. 50 isn’t holding back when it goes down. – AW

32. “What If”

50 tends to show out on conceptual tracks, and this offering from the Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ soundtrack is no exception. Rapping in character as the film’s protagonist Marcus (who was loosely based on 50 himself), 50 wonders about the results of rap stardom. It’s exactly the sort of song that an aspiring rapper would make, and 50 sells it well, even a few years removed from that humble position in real life. – AW

31. “I Don’t Know Officer” Feat. Spider Loc, Lloyd Banks, Mase, and Prodigy

A cheeky but menacing mixtape posse cut produced by Malay and Jake One, “I Don’t Know Officer” was one of many attempts to launch G-Unit on a grander scale. It’s an intriguing curio, featuring a rare collaboration between 50 and Mase, who have never had as contentious a relationship as 50 has with some members of his now-defunct label, but who have still never really put out too much music together for some reason. Also, Spider Loc is here, giving the Compton rapper one of his very few mainstream appearances. – AW

30. “Best Friend” Feat. Olivia

If you had to guess, without looking, how many views on YouTube does “Best Friend” have? If you guessed 30 million, wrong. If you guessed 60 million, wrong. “Best Friend” has over 141 million views. An unbelievable number for a sentimental record produced by Hi-Tek, that features Olivia, samples “Silly, Wasn’t I?” by Valerie Simpson, and interpolates parts of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” “Best Friend” is unquestionably a hit, one of the biggest in 50’s catalog, and he achieved it by leaning into the lady-man music that his nemesis Ja Rule was famous for. Life is funny like that. – Yoh Phillips

29. “Follow My Lead” Feat. Robin Thicke

50 Cent had nothing to prove by Curtis, his third album. He had written the hits, gave hip-hop a classic debut, a strong sophomore, and had room to double down on concepts that made his character multi-dimensional. “Follow My Lead” paired him with Robin Thicke for one of his more tender-hearted themes. The slow-burning tempo and soft piano keys bring a candle-lit vibe that would make no sense on Get Rich or Die Tryin’, but he didn’t die, and even thugs need love. – YP

28. “Disco Inferno”

Legend has it that after Interscope Record decided to push back his sophomore album, The Massacre, 50 chose to leak his lead single, “Disco Inferno, on Thanksgiving Day. A daring move that speaks to how leaks have long affected superstar careers and driven labels crazy. With that said, how 50 made the clubs move may be hard to fathom in a time so removed from his hitmaking, but he had the hottest hand in terms of turning simple jingles into Billboard chart-toppers. “Disco Inferno” peaked at No. 3 and restarted the mania around the world’s boldest rapper. – YP

27. “I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy” Feat. Young Buck

G-Unit had some great records. “I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy” is a prime example. You have 50 and Young Buck over one of the hardest beats Ron Browz ever made, sounding starved, like they’re ready to reach through your headphones and take whatever money is in your wallet. You would think they were performing to be co-stars in the next Grand Theft Auto. It’s a shame these three didn’t attempt more collaborations. They have a working chemistry that went unexplored, but that is why the hit has aged so well: No one ever made a sequel. – YP

26. “Major Distribution” Feat. Snoop Dogg & Jeezy

An underrated latter-day 50 Cent single, “Major Distribution” was originally released as a promotional single for his oft-delayed (and probably canceled) sixth studio album Street King Immortal. While it never charted as well as it could have, 50 and his collaborators do display some cozy chemistry, and the anthemic Soul Professa production lends some impressive energy to the affair. Also, it’s always nice when 50 steps outside of his usual small collaborative circle to include different rappers — and Jeezy delivers one of his stronger verses here. – AW

25. “Like My Style”

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a time capsule. “Like My Style” is a Rockwilder-produced club record that feels made for dance-off scenes in You Got Served. The off-kilter rhythm pushed 50 to loosen up. His flow is flexible, his cadence is fun, and he’s in such ecstasy the man said, “I’m a New Yorker, but I sound Southern.” Not true, but the sentiment touched on how 50 was ready to expand outside his region, and “Like My Style” does that by venturing beyond predictable comfort zones. Although not one of his big hits, “Like My Style” had all the pieces of an early 2000s hit. – YP

24. “Ski Mask Way”

Some might think breakout success would keep him away from gritty street tales, but 50’s best storytelling comes out of a darker, colder slice of life and that didn’t change because he sold a million records. “Ski Mask Way” is stickup kid music from the perspective of a scheming kleptomaniac who will take whatever his eyes see, whatever his hands touch. A chain, a watch, earrings — nothing is off limits. What takes this robbery rap deep cut even higher in esteem is how rich and soulful the beat is. The late Disco D outdid himself. – YP

23. “Heat”

The Dr. Dre-produced “Heat” was in Rakim’s possession first before 50 laid the vocals that earned him a track filled with Glock cocking and gunshot sounds. He raps threat after threat with bulletproof poise despite the war zone ambiance. There’s something compelling about how he raps, unbothered by all the noise, as if this environment of hyper-violence is where he feels the most at home. Of all the tracks on his infamous debut, “Heat” doubles down on 50 as an agent of chaos that will place his listeners in a world of bullets, burners, and bravado. – YP

22. “I’m Supposed To Die Tonight”

By the time The Massacre came out in 2009, the subject matter of this song, 50’s 2000 shooting in front of his grandmother’s house, was well-worn material. Rap fans looking for evolution or new material weren’t going to find it here. That doesn’t mean it’s not effective; as a nostalgic reflection of a pivotal point in 50’s life, it’s vivid as HDTV. – AW

21. “God Gave Me Style”

Another standout from The Massacre, this song is unusual in 50 Cent’s discography because it’s one of his few songs that isn’t A.: A chilling meditation on violence, or B.: A blatant bid for radio dominance. He sounds happy here, relishing in the outcome of the past few years of his career, and one of the few times he freely admits, “Best deal I made was tradin’ the mic for that triple beam.” 50’s music can often be motivational, but rarely is it uplifting — this is one of the few exceptions. – AW

20. “High All The Time”

50 wanted to sell records — enough to make a record that wasn’t faithful to life. “High All The Time” talks of intoxication, but the Queens rapper is too intense to be a believable stoner. What should be a loose and lucid record is confrontational and forbidding, but he displays his gift for pairing a sweet melody with brash bravado, the gangsta rap image with a hitmaker’s ear. There is a rare charm to “High All The Time” that captivates even when you can’t trust his character. – YP

19. “Part Of The Game”

50’s rap resurrection has come from a seemingly unlikely place. His constellation of Starz crime dramas, beginning with Power, have offered a showcase that helps to properly contextualize his grimy street narratives. See, he’s not telling 20-year-old war stories anymore, he’s telling you about the show, the things the characters are going to go through. Maybe he took a page from Jay-Z’s book with American Gangster; until we get 50’s version of the reflective 4:44, the Power theme songs — this one’s from Book III: Kanan — let us relive 50 at his best and temporarily ignore the fact he’s a mogul who hasn’t touched a pack since Clinton was in office. – AW

18. “Power Powder Respect” Feat. Lil Durk & Jeremih

The theme song to Power Book IV: Force sees 50 tap Chicago veterans Lil Durk and Jeremih — fitting additions, considering the show’s setting. For those who aren’t up on game, this spin-off follows the original show’s Tommy Egan as he flees to Chicago and works to take over the Windy City. Obviously, power, powder, and respect are the three things he’ll need to accomplish this goal, but while they aren’t in short supply, they aren’t exactly the easiest things to obtain, lending the show its conflict and this song its narrative tension. – AW

17. “Big Rich Town” Feat. Joe

The theme song from the original Power marked a turning point in 50 Cent’s music career. It’d be fair to say he hadn’t been as much of a force on the music scene as he was in business, particularly in the screen business. With his last full-length album nearing a decade ago, it seemed like he’d moved on from rap — until he rediscovered his hunger by putting himself in the mind of his character from the show, Kanan. And while that character is no longer a fixture of most of the remaining spinoffs (RIP), by spitting from the perspective of his shows’ street-stuck subjects, 50 once again sounds vital. – AW

16. “Still Think I’m Nothing” Feat. Jeremih

These two may be an odd pair on paper, but 50 and Jeremih have a commendable work history. Their standout collaboration, “Still Think I’m Nothing,” serves as a harmonious meeting place for raw and reflective raps to find amicability alongside a soulful R&B voice. The silky groove Bongo produced was an ideal canvas for these two to share space. The infectious outcome deserved more praise when this one dropped in 2017. How 50’s ad-libs carry over into the chorus gives “Still Think I’m Nothing” a clever juxtaposition that more artists should attempt today. You really feel the best of both worlds. – YP

15. “Ryder Music”

Hi-Tek might be one of the most underrated rap producers of all time. The man comes with heat, and while it may have seemed a surprise to see the backpack rap producer working with a towering figure such as 50 Cent in 2005, the results speak for themselves. Over a haunting Stevie Wonder loop embellished by Tek’s artist Dion, 50 comes as close as we’ve ever heard him to introspection, juxtaposing his titanic star status with the trappings of trap life. – AW

14. “How To Rob” Feat. The Madd Rapper

The song that first introduced 50 Cent to the masses in 1999 laid the foundation of his future blueprint of courting controversy for attention, and by extension, sales. The tongue-in-cheek concept is simple; 50 is going to rob every successful rapper in hip-hop. He proceeds to name-check dozens of them, from Canibus to Will Smith, dropping in a few R&B singers and even choir director Kirk Franklin. The song didn’t make him many friends, but it garnered plenty of fans, especially after several of his targets responded with tracks of their own, fueling the feeding frenzy. – AW

13. “I Don’t Need Em”

50 is one of rap’s greatest anti-heroes because he commits to antagonism. “I’m rich, I still wake up with crime on my mind,” he raps on “I Don’t Need Em,” the penultimate record found on his sophomore album, The Massacre. It’s an incredibly mean-spirited track, full of the foul energy only a villain could emit. The middle-finger lyricism is paired with phenomenal production by Buckwild, who pulls classic hip-hop grit out of The SCLC Operation Breadbasket Orchestra And Choir’s “Nobody Knows” should be in classrooms studied by professors. – YP

12. “Back Down”

To find the death knell of Ja Rule’s hip-hop dominance, relisten to “Back Down,” track ten on 50 Cent’s classic debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin.’ They don’t make diss records quite like this anymore, where a whole career gets disrupted by its content. The whole track is a vicious and valiant attempt at ending a career, robbing 50’s adversary of any leftover respect since the start of their beef. If liquefied, “Back Down” would taste like poison. That’s how deeply 50 despised Ja. So much so, allegedly, two versions of “Back Down” exist. The OG was disrespectful enough for Dr. Dre to have him change it. It’s hard to imagine a harsher diss, especially with the Alex Thomas outro. – YP

11. “This Is 50”

Fame, celebrity, money; 50 Cent had all the perks of superstardom by 2005, and he still made “This Is 50,” a record that reintroduced him as a Benz-driving, limo-riding rap star with an itchy trigger finger. In both verses, the hook and bridge embody his resistance to be some safe pop star. He may have made riches without having to die, didn’t mean that made him softer, kinder. No, not him, and for anyone who may have forgotten, “This Is 50” makes it crystal clear: A persona doesn’t mean pretending. – YP

10. “Window Shopper”

Appearing on the soundtrack from Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, “Window Shopper” features the most hilarious version of 50 Cent. The one who pulls up alongside you in his brand-new Lamborghini, eyes you up and down, and lets out a pointed, derisive chuckle before he peels off as the light turns green. Here, the put-downs are comical, but the commentary is no less incisive. He doesn’t need to brag or threaten because he’s already reduced you to the worst version of yourself in his mind — and yours. – AW

9. “What Up Gangsta”

The first time I heard anyone from outside of California use “cuz” — the standard salutation of the street-affiliated gentlefolk around my way — on a record, my mind was blown. 50’s street credentials didn’t seem so gimmicky or manufactured to me after that, because I realized he knew some stuff. Anyway, I was 18 at the time and didn’t know any better. This remains one of my favorite 50 Cent records, though. – AW

8. “Hustler’s Ambition”

For all the catchy hooks 50 Cent is best known for, for all the boisterous hits, I’ve always thought he was at his best when he still rapped like he had something to prove over gritty, primal hip-hop beats. Check and check. The stripped-down production, sampling the soulful Frankie Beverly and Maze song “I Need You,” offers a clean backdrop for 50’s straightforward bars about the trevails of the hustler’s life. Placed on the soundtrack to 50’s film debut, which was named after his first album, it sets the stage for the hungry, barely fictionalized version of the character we see in the film. – AW

7.”Patiently Waiting”

The Eminem-produced “Patiently Waiting” was sent to 50 soon after signing with Em in 2002. The drums drop like elbows from a top rope, and that only begins to describe a swelling beat where all the intersecting parts create the perfect atmosphere for titans to pop shit. They pop it, not caring who they offend, especially with all the references to 9/11. It’s bold, but what do you expect from two brass-knuckle rappers with a love for mayhem? Their platinum-selling collaboration was a statement-making moment for Shady Records, one that still feels potent 20 years later. – YP

6. “Wanksta”

A new rapper must add lingo to hip-hop’s vernacular to reach superstardom. “Wanksta” wasn’t a widespread term before 50, but after his 2002 single, it was everywhere, viral, an instant classic. Often viewed as a Ja-Rule diss, “Wanksta” shames posers and taunts pretenders with laughable contempt. Lyrically, the track is rap bullying at its best, and 50 makes it catchy, an imposer-shaming rap sing-along. Then, the beat by J-Praize is unlike anything rappers had at the time and still sounds like it was from the future when played today. A super classic by all metrics. – YP

5. “A Baltimore Love Thing”

While there are quite a few “love songs” that characterize all manner of drugs and other vices as romantic foils to their respective songwriters, this standout from The Massacre captured a side of 50 that hadn’t been seen yet. Where he had always played the cold-eyed hustler, willfully apathetic of the effects of the products he sold, here he personified those products, taking a clinical look at the destruction they’ve wrought on his customers. – AW

4. “21 Questions” Feat. Nate Dogg

The “girl song” reared its head so often in the halcyon teenage years of hip-hop. Yet, never before had it been so effectively ruggedized. Acknowledgment for this likely belongs to Nate Dogg, the California crooner whose cognac vocal graced many a hit in the early 2000s. Rather than begging his way into his paramour’s bed, 50 and Nate draw her in, putting the ball firmly in her court. Will she remain loyal? Will she persevere? What is she willing to do to keep this thing going? By reversing the roles of pursuer and pursued, 50 sounds both enamored and coolly unattached. – AW

3. “I Get Money”

Every year a few rap records come out and have no flaws. A perfect beat, a perfect performance, a perfect release. In 2007, one of those flawless tracks was “I Get Money.” You would have thought its placement on Billboard had peaked higher than No. 20 the way it reached from Brooklyn to Buckhead, from Washington to Wichita. The Audio Two sample and the flex, “Have a baby by me, baby, be a millionaire,” had hip-hop in a chokehold. You can play the song today and imagine the impact, but really, “I Get Money” was a moment you had to be there for, a true one-of-one anthem that was every hustler’s ringtone. – YP

2. “Many Men”

There are few songs that truly convey the sense of paranoia that comes from being a marked man because there are so few songs that can accurately balance the anxious, eye-rolling dread with the slight thrill of adrenaline, that rush that makes it almost seem worth the risk. That 50 could back his boasts with his factual story of survival — nine shots to the torso, neck, and head — takes the subject matter from grim to weirdly triumphant. “He got hit like I got hit,” 50 snarls, “But he ain’t f*ckin’ breathin’.” – AW

1. “In Da Club”

A calling card song of the highest order, “In Da Club” is the one 50 Cent song that you’d play your friend who’s never heard a 50 Cent song and they’d get it. A pummeling, punishing treadmill of a Dr. Dre beat sounds like the Knight Rider theme song without actually sampling it (it’s been done a few times), setting the stage for a pulse-pounding, heart-gripping action movie in audio form. 50’s boasts sound at once victorious and somehow humble — like he’s reached the pinnacle of a years-long climb, only to spy greater peaks in the distance. – AW