x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

US rapper 50 Cent wows Dubai students

The 37-year-old American rapper gets serious as he talks to university students about entrepreneurship, charity and dreams.

Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson III wows the crowds at the American University in Dubai.
Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson III wows the crowds at the American University in Dubai.

DUBAI // Students at the American University in Dubai were given a rare glimpse of the serious side of 50 Cent yesterday as the rapper told them to look after their friends and carry out charity work.

Students screamed for the United States star, real name Curtis Jackson, one even asking him to take her on a date. Others, men and women, shouted: “I love you 50”.

The 37-year-old star, who, according to Forbes is worth Dh404million, has gone beyond his reputation for surviving multiple shootings and has become known for his charity projects as well as his entrepreneurship, which has most recently seen him enter the arena of boxing promotion.

“It’ll take the new generation of entrepreneurs to make a difference,” said 50 Cent, who is tonight appearing at the Atelier/Festival at Meydan Racecourse.

“Entrepreneurs come up with ideas before they have the finances to support it, and in the process get discouraged when they don’t get funding and end up working for some other entrepreneur.”

He said that without a dream, it is all to easy to end up in a rut. But there were paths to success other than education – he admitted he was almost totally uneducated, brought up in a poor family with a single mother and his grandmother taking care of him in Queens, New York.

“It’s not only the things in books that will determine if you’ll be successful,” he said. “It takes more than being taught in a classroom to help you not to fall into a 9 to 5 regime of just getting by.”

His project with the United Nations World Food Programme has distributed meals to three million starving Africans – one for each bottle of his energy drink, Street King, sold. But he says there is much more work to do.

“I want to take that to one billion,” he said. The drink is distributed in partnership with Pepsi and 50 Cent told students it proves it is not impossible to influence the major corporations to “make a difference”.

Elizabeth Mulic, 20, a business student also from Queens, said she had been looking forward to hearing “the real 50 Cent” but was disappointed he was drowned out by some of her overenthusiastic fellow students.

“He was trying to talk about serious things and nobody wanted to hear it,” she said. During the talk, there were chants of “sing, sing” and one student in the question-and-answer session, asked him to freestyle. Another asked him to marry her.

“Nobody sees that other persona about him and I don’t think people here even care,” she said. “Everybody was just expecting 50 Cent, but he’s a really intelligent person.”

Bader Al Hajjaj said: “You could see he was getting annoyed with it.” However, the electrical engineering student found the talk inspiring. “Students will have learnt to care about other people and not to just do things for yourself,” he said.

“With all his achievements and where he came from, he’s now looking after other people and that’s a good experience to learn.  Right now he’s proving the opposite of the image people imagine of him as a bad influence.”

The star’s latest charity project will help autistic children in Dubai, with some proceeds from his SMS Audio line of headphones going to the Dubai Autism Centre.

mswan@thenational.ae