More so than any other music since the blues, hip-hop is all about stories. And its stories are both criminal minded and grand, making them enthralling and unbelievable, but also making them only as interesting and convincing as the teller. That's why, despite being blackballed by the industry, without a major-label recording contract, heads still gravitated to Jamaica, Queens' realest son, 50 Cent, like the planets to the sun. 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson 26 years ago, is the real deal, the genuine article. He's a man of the streets, intimately familiar with its codes and its violence, but still, 50, an incredibly intelligent and deliberate man, holds himself with a regal air as if above the pettiness which surrounds him. Couple his true-life hardship with his knack for addictive, syrupy hooks, it's clear that 50 has exactly what it takes to ride down the road to riches and diamond rings. 50 is real, so he does real things.