The Rise & Fall Of...: The Rise & Fall of G-Unit Records

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 12:00AM

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As hip-hop enters a new era of business ventures, endorsement deals and growth within the music industry, SOHH reflects on the highs and lows of the rap empires that paved the way for today's black entrepreneurs.

G-Unit Records

Founded in 2003 by rap mogul 50 Cent and producer Sha Money XL, G-Unit Records took the world by storm becoming one of the fastest growing conglomerates with regional artists including Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck. They later added R&B singer Olivia, West Coast rapper The Game and rap veterans like M.O.P and Mobb Deep. 50 Cent's brand also experienced success outside of music with the launch of G-Unit clothing, films and beverages.

Though G-Unit became generally recognized as the brand name associated with 50 Cent, for instance serving as a catch phrase ("G-G-G-G-G-Unit!) as well as a record label (G-Unit Records), it in fact began as the name of his backing posse. G-Unit originally was a trio comprised of 50, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo (often with the accompaniment of either DJ Whookid or Cutmaster C as their DJ), and this particular lineup resulted in a series of popular mixtapes during the early 2000s: 50 Cent Is the Future, God's Plan, No Mercy, No Fear, and Automatic Gunfire. (All Music)

50 Cent

50 Cent

Despite a bidding war, Eminem indeed got his man, signing 50 Cent to a joint deal with Shady/Aftermath -- the former label Em's, the latter Dr. Dre's. During the successive months, 50 Cent worked closely with Eminem and Dre, who were both credited as executive produced on his upcoming debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin', each of them producing a few tracks for the highly awaited album. (All Music)

Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo

Lloyd BanksTony Yayo

After appearing on numerous local mixtapes, Banks, along with childhood friends Tony Yayo and 50 Cent, formed a crew called G-Unit, a group that proceeded to redefine the term "street marketing" with a series of self-released albums that included original numbers and quality artwork. Banks stayed on with 50 Cent, appearing on the artist's now classic 2003 debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. (All Music)

Key G-Unit Roster Additions

Young Buck & Game

Young BuckThe Game

50 Cent gave Young Buck a feature on his commercially successful debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' on the track "Blood Hound". After this, he appeared on G-Unit's debut album, Beg for Mercy, which went on to be certified 2x Platinum. Compton's own the Game (aka Hurricane Game) issued his debut LP, The Documentary, in 2004 through Aftermath/G Unit/Universal. With everyone from Dr. Dre and 50 Cent to Nate Dogg, Kanye West, and Just Blaze contributing to the album, The Documentary made it clear from the outset that geographic squabbles weren't a part of the Game's agenda. (All Music)



In 2004, Olivia re-emerged as the first woman signed to G-Unit Records. She contributed vocals to the trio's debut album Beg for Mercy and to 50 Cent's The Massacre, including the album's number-one single "Candy Shop". (Wikipedia)

G-Unit Clothing

The clothing line was announced in 2003 as a joint partnership between 50 Cent and Marc Ecko, founder of Eck? Unlimited. The deal was said to be unique as Ecko wasn't handling the designing of the clothing, but rather the marketing and merchandising of the brand. Marc Ecko likened the deal to "Nike and (Michael) Jordan coming together for Air Jordan". (SOHH)

vitaminwater: Formula 50

He worked with Glacéau to create a Vitamin Water drink called Formula 50. In 2007, Coca-Cola purchased Glacéau for US $4.1 billion. Forbes estimated Jackson, who owns a stake in the company, earned $100 million from the deal after taxes. (Forbes)

G-Unit Films

G-Unit Films is a now a defunct American film production company founded by rapper 50 Cent and Interscope in 2003.[1] In 2008 50 Cent stated in an interview that he has created his own independent film production company with Chris Lighty called Cheetah Vision. (Wikipedia)


The Departure of G-Unit Artists

After the well publicized departure of The Game in early 2005, Spider Loc was signed to the label. As a result of the problems that 50 Cent encountered with The Game, he was not sure whether or not to sign any new artists to his "family." In 2008, amidst rumors of a "beef" within G-Unit between 50 Cent and Young Buck, 50 Cent officially kicked Young Buck out of the group, though assuring that he was still signed with the label. Within a 2009 interview it was confirmed that Game, Young Buck, Spider Loc, Young Hot Rod, and Mazardi Fox were all still signed to the label, while both M.O.P and Mobb Deep were no longer signed to the label. (Wikipedia)

G-Unit Clothing Folds In 2008

After numerous rumors, the G-Unit brand of clothing is officially shutting down. The news may come as a surprise to some, due to previous denials by representatives for 50 Cent. The clothing line, which was a part of designer Marc Ecko's Marc Ecko Enterprises, was established in 2003. Despite its popularity since then, and Wall Street Journal reports that it made up 15% of Marc Ecko Enterprises' revenue, 50 Cent will allegedly be walking away with full ownership of the brand - presumably to relaunch with another manufacturer. (Album Grab)

Tony Yayo & Lloyd Banks Leave Interscope Records

Banks left Interscope Records in 2009. He is still signed to G-Unit Records, which will release his new album. Tony Yayo has also announced his departure from Interscope stating that he and Banks will release their next solo projects under 50 Cent and an independent record company. (Wikipedia)


Although G-Unit remains at its core three, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, the strength it once held as the leading brand within hip-hop has been overshadowed with rap beefs through ex-members Game and Young Buck. In addition, the company has swayed away from Interscope Records to pursue a more independent route as 50 balances his own acting career with his artists' music releases. For now, 50 Cent still leads his three-member team while fans await the delayed solo follow-ups of Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo speculated to come out summer 2010.

[Check out The Rise & Fall of Death Row Records.]
[Check out The Rise & Fall of Bad Boy Records.]
[Check out The Rise & Fall of Roc-A-Fella Records.]

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