The Guardian has an interesting interview with crack dealer turned rapper 50 Cent. There's no doubt that many of the greatest rappers are intelligent and cunning, but I can't help but wish that more attention was paid to successful blacks with more moral integrity.
It's a tacit acknowledgement that for Jackson to progress any further, he is obliged to widen the gap between his real life experiences and that of his fictional alter-ego, smoothing off the rough edges. While 50 continues to pander to his audience by rapping about getting high, partying and hitting on 'bitches', Jackson doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs and (according to a source close to the rapper) doesn't even 'do' groupies. Instead, he is intensely focused on one thing and one thing alone: making money. In that sense, Curtis Jackson has redefined Kelvin Martin's maxim to 'Get Rich or Die Tryin'. But he also seems acutely aware that perceptions don't change easily. 'I am a villain,' he admits, albeit reluctantly, 'but that's because I'm aggressive ... But my head is not there. I don't look for trouble. And I don't want the trouble. My past is my shadow. Everywhere I go, it goes with me.'
I suppose it's valuable to cast oneself as a classical anti-hero, who wants to do good but just can't stop being bad.