We were promised—and promised, and promised—the largest, most star-studded presidential inauguration in history. After all, a record-setting $107 million had been raised by Trump’s Inaugural Committee, a who’s who of right-wing billionaires led by friend-of-the-Saudis Tom Barrack and including disgraced hotelier Steve Wynn and Apprentice mastermind Mark Burnett.
But in the weeks leading up to President-elect Donald Trump’s 2016 inauguration ceremony, the former reality-TV host’s well-heeled footsoldiers were scrambling to book musical performers and A-list attendees. Singer Jennifer Holliday dropped out, citing Trump and the GOP’s anti-LGBT stance, while soul legend Aretha Franklin blew him off. Old pals Elton John and Andrea Bocelli weren’t interested. Desperate, Team Trump began offering large sums of money to celebs just to attend. One of those people was 50 Cent.
“He offered me a half-million just to come!” 50 Cent tells The Daily Beast, adding, “I didn’t think that was a good move at that point. You find out that every dollar is not a good dollar, and how do you repair the damage that that does?”
I’m seated across from the rapper and entrepreneur in a luxe hotel suite in Midtown Manhattan. We’re here to discuss Power, his popular crime saga on Starz, whose sixth and final season—dubbed “The Final Betrayal”—premieres Aug. 25. 50 serves as both executive producer and co-star of the series, and will oversee a hotly anticipated spin-off starring the great Mary J. Blige.
Before long, however, our talk turns to one of 50’s hip-hop contemporaries: A$AP Rocky, the embattled rapper whose cause the president has taken up. According to 50, it’s surreal to see the most powerful man in the world spending his time tweeting about A$AP Rocky instead of, you know, attempting to fix some of the world’s more pressing problems.
“He’s still the president of America at the present moment. You’re gonna help A$AP? Wait… this kid is from Harlem!” laughs 50 Cent. “This is more exciting than an Emmy or a Golden Globe. I would take the tweet, print it out, and have the little picture from Twitter go next to it and put it on the wall, because he’s talking specifically about me while he’s the president of America. We’re just living in a different climate right now. It’s crazy.”
50 believes that President Trump knows exactly what he’s doing when he cozies up to popular celebs like A$AP, Kanye West, and the Kardashians.
“Look at the Kardashian relationship [with Trump]. Look at how far the social reach is there. Between Kim, Khloe and the other girls, it’s like 400 million people following them all online. Think about it!” he exclaims. “Just having them be supportive of what you’re doing is giving a whole lot of people the thought of, well, they are doing this. That’s a lot of influence and reach.”
Both 50 and Trump hail from Queens, and though Trump’s been referenced on rap tracks more than perhaps any other mogul, the “In Da Club” MC feels that, like many Americans, the hip-hop community was sold a lie.
“His image has definitely changed. Initially, the reason why you heard his name so much in hip-hop is because it was aspirational. I don’t have to tell you this, but back then you could have put the name ‘Trump’ in front of a building and it would’ve sold for a bundle. But then you learn that the fact of the matter is, he was losing money,” says 50. “And no one knew he was losing so much money, and it still allowed him to be the president of America.”
He pauses. “And [Trump’s] going to make a lot of it before it’s all over—with books and all that stuff, with his big following. You know, if you check the accounts, when Hillary was in office versus when she ran for president, there was a lot more money.”
As for the “star-studded” inauguration concert, well, we all know how that turned out.
Stay tuned for our full interview with 50 Cent next week.
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