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The time for their musical beat-down is apparently right now. 50's sophomore LP, The Massacre, officially comes out on March 3, and for weeks the hip-hop world has been buzzing about the track "Piggy Bank," its author's musical declaration of war on such artists as Jadakiss, Nas, Fat Joe and Shyne. Some say 50's committing career suicide by going at so many top-flank MCs at once, some say he's making the ultimate chess move. But the brawny MC says he's just defending himself.

"I think they've mistaken me," 50 snorts. "Their actions come from their interaction with the guy in this spot before me, Jay-Z. I think Jay-Z, he doesn't mind them saying things and doing what they doing 'cause he's looking at them like 'bum-ass n---as.' So he don't say nothing to them because he feels they're beneath him. But I got the time and energy to ruin what is left of their careers.

"It's cool, this is what I'm used to," 50 adds matter-of-factly. "It's actually a comfort zone for me to have issues."

On "Piggy Bank," 50 calls Nas a sucker for love and makes fun of the recently married King of Queensbridge for tattooing a picture of his wife, Kelis, on his arm. Evidently, 50 still has a sour taste in his mouth from this past summer, when Nas held a free concert in New York's Central Park and said to the crowd, "I wanna thank every one of y'all for coming out and representing that real street New York sh--. Not that fake sh--, not that 50 Cent."

"Their actions come from their interaction with the guy in this spot before me, Jay-Z. He don't say nothing to them because he feels they're beneath him. But I got the time and energy to ruin what is left of their careers."

"I understand that Nas ... he's watched his window of opportunity open and close in front of him and now he's a little bitter," 50 says of the man who took him on tour when he was just an upstart newly signed to Columbia Records.

For the record, after the Central Park show, Nas told MTV News his words onstage were not a dis aimed at 50; he was simply responding to the crowd and he also noted he felt 50 had taken light jabs at him on record prior to the concert. Nas has, however, recently come out on New York radio and said that he will respond if anyone — including 50 — wants to battle him.

Fat Joe, meanwhile, says, "I never said nothing to 50, sent no subliminal shots, or had any beef with the kid. I'm not a battle rapper, my thing is to take it to the streets. For him, this is just a battle rap. Forget Ja Rule and him, that's real beef, but [his problems] with Fat Joe, Nas and Jada, this is only to spark sales for his album and spark hype. It's so blatant. But I'mma address the n---a one time on my album, one time only, and hopefully we can move on from there."

Jada couldn't be reached for comment, but his LOX-mate Styles P. — whom 50 also says has thrown subliminal barbs at him — says his crew's hands are tied because they are on the same label with 50 and they know Interscope is going to favor 50 due to his big sales potential. "I just try to fall back and be a businessman," Styles says. "Some things don't make sense to get into. That's not a winning situation for us, money-wise."

50 doesn't seem to mind one way or another if anybody strikes back at him now, and almost laughs at the thought of Fat Joe and Jadakiss coming for revenge. "Fat Joe and Jadakiss, come on, man. They don't even count," he scoffs, citing their less-than-platinum sales status.

"The friend of my enemy is my enemy."
Listening to 50, it's clear he's adopted the mantra "the friend of my enemy is my enemy." Deeply rooted at the heart of his disdain for Joe and Jada is their appearance on the song "New York" with 50's arch-nemesis, Ja Rule. 50 says that by the two of them riding with Rule on the song, they were helping to undermine Fif's plan to end Ja's career. Even R. Kelly caught 50's wrath this summer at New York's Hot 97 Summer Jam concert because of his ties to Ja Rule.

While both 50 Cent and the Inc. have given their sides of the story as to how their war started, 50 now admits it's a little deeper, and says he resents the fact that the Incsters aligned themselves with an O.G. from his neighborhood with whom he had serious problems.

"The difference is, it's not music beef," 50 says of his quarrels with the Inc. "It comes from the street, and that don't die. That stays the same."

NEXT: Rumors about infighting within the ranks of the G-Unit ...
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Photo: Interscope/MTV News

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 "Hate It Or Love It"
The Documentary

 "Candy Shop"
The Massacre