It’s a shame the sustainable money trend has come too late for 50 Cent.
Once all the puns and re-dubbed YouTube videos are out the way, you might be left wondering how on earth someone who was once worth a reported half a billion dollars could end up owing up to $50 million, according to the story published today.
Without descending into schadenfreude (loved In Da Club), can we in some way learn from his mistakes?
There are the obvious ones, which are laid bare in this unfortunately-timed New York Times interview a few days ago.
Don’t buy expensive watches you can’t afford. Or suits.
Don’t get sued. A woman alleged that he made a sex tape with her in it without her permission and he apparently had to pay her $5 million.
But what about his investments?
Among these were: his own clothing line (G-Unit), trainers and headphones – all standard rapper vanity merchandising – and bizarrely, a minority stake in VitaminWater, which reportedly netted him $100 million when the company was sold to Coca Cola.
However it seems that, rather than his investments going wrong, his downfall most probably was overspending – on things designed to impress.
If you are a rap star, it is not so much keeping up with the Joneses as keeping up with Jay-Z.
50 Cent was rich, sure, but perhaps not quite rich enough. Without knowing the guy, it’s hard to imagine the pressure he felt he was under. We assume he felt some. This is, after all, the man who wrote Get Rich, or die Tryin’.
Is this one man’s out of control spending, bad financial advice or actually, a sobering warning that the obsession in rap culture with Benjamins, ice and SUVs – all the while plundering the world’s resources in the most deliberately ostentatious way you can imagine – can have two victims – the resources and the obsessive, bling-bedecked superstar.
If there can be a good thing to come out of 50 Cent’s unfortunate financial predicament, perhaps it might be that the brash consumption of shiny things that is right at the heart of rap culture begins to look like the foolish ego-boost that it is, and others tempted to follow suit instead dial down the excessive spending, or even better, turn their attentions to more worthy homes for their cash.
They could, for instance, follow Jessica Alba’s commercially-successful example of the Honest Company, which sells non-toxic baby products.
Instead of your traditional African blood diamonds, how about fair trade gold, from the Santa Filomena mine in Peru, or ethical diamonds from Canada? There’s big demand for ethical wedding rings these days.
The day rap stars start rapping about bamboo clothing and long-termed, asset-backed, income returns from clean energy is the day we put on In Da Club and dance around the living room, for that will be the day we know the Eighties are finally (psychologically speaking) over, and the measure of a man, or a woman for that matter, is not how many diamonds they own, but how low they can get their carbon footprint.