50 Cent loves playing the 'best bad guy on TV'
Rapper-turned-TV producer wants his TV series to be recognised for a Golden Globe
After a tough beginnings on the streets of Queens, New York, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is now a best-selling rapper, actor and entrepreneur.
He presides over a business empire that includes artist management, TV and film production, apparel, video games, publishing, health drinks and supplements.
He bestowed the moniker 50 Cent on himself after a Brooklyn criminal of the same name "because it says everything I want it to say... I provide for myself by any means".
A self-confessed "over-achiever", his latest project is as the executive producer of US TV series Power, in which he plays drug-dealing convict Kanan. The drama's third season premieres next month.
Set in New York City, it revolves around a nightclub owner (Omari Hardwick), who is involved in a major drug-dealing ring, and he struggles to maintain his two separate lives as he tries to go legit.
When we meet Jackson, 40, at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills to discuss Power, he's sharply dressed in a rust-coloured suit, sporting the requisite rapper bling - a jewelled necklace he made himself, which he describes as a "Jesus piece".
He tells M: "I worked on this project so closely with (creator) Courtney (Kemp Agboh) from the beginning, and we went through the ideas and created what the series was going to be."
Agboh is the writer and showrunner, but Jackson adds with a laugh that "she is from Connecticut, she doesn't know the players and stuff she is talking about in the show".
"She is far away from the material. And I get a chance to come in as someone who has been around the environment and the kind of characters that are in the show."
ALTER EGO: Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson as a drug-dealing convict Kanan in the drama series Power. PHOTO: STARZ
On his recurring character Kanan, Jackson - who was last seen in the Jake Gyllenhaal boxing movie Southpaw (2015) - says: "After the second season, I felt like I was the man because I felt like the best bad guy on TV. I killed my own kids and you can't get worse than this. And then I go, let's see what we can do now. And Courtney topped it."
He even wants his show to be recognised for a Golden Globe and was warned by his publicists to be on his A-game during this interview organised through the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which conducts the annual Golden Globe Awards.
"'You go in there and you straighten up, boy.' They give me a pep talk before I came. They said no rapper s***... Roll with it, don't go in there talking crazy," he says with a laugh.
Jackson has also been working on his new album Street King Immortal, which has been postponed several times but is slated for release this year.
"For me, music never stops," he says. "Because it's constantly around me."
But he does have scorn for television music.
"There is a place for bad music and it's television. Because they spend the money everywhere else. The last part of the project, the last piece of the puzzle, is the budgeting for music, and this is where we can cut in someone's cousin who has music that is free and who just wants to see it on television and be on a show."
Jackson is involved in charities like the United Nations World Food Programme and recently donated US$100,000 (S$138,000) to advocacy organisation Autism Speaks.
"I think as soon as you have enough time in a space where you feel like you have been successful - since 2003 I have felt that way - I've become more interested in philanthropy."
He focuses on after-school programmes and academics, singling out "C-level students, because I wasn't an A student".
"I am like a symbol of hope for them because they know the circumstances that I came up under."