In recent years, 50 Cent has voiced his frustration with Interscope on multiple occasions, but it may have been what he viewed as their inextricable link with Beats By Dr. Dre headphones that factored into his decision to leave the label.
In February, 50 announced that he was leaving the label, which had been his home since the release of his 2003 debut album,Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
Instead, his June 3 album, Animal Ambition, is due out on Caroline, an independent arm of Capitol — which also happens to be under the same parent umbrella (Universal Music Group) as Interscope.
50 sat down with MTV News on March 17 at Eminem’s Shade 45 radio station, the same night he taped a SIRIUS XM Town Hall special with fans which will air on the station on March 31. Fif opened up about his issues with music executive Steve Stoute and the current state of his G-Unit rap group. Then, of course, there was his split from Interscope.
“Not that there wasn’t a whole lot of support, but just an actual fear factor created from the aura of respect that Jimmy[Iovine] has within the Interscope system,” Fif began to explain. “When you see Interscope turn into Beats Records, where everyone that you see is actually marketing Beats headphones — you don’t even see a music video without Beats headphones in it.”
The push to market Beats headphones may have been particularly off-putting for 50, who not only doesn’t have any stake in Beats, but actually owns a competing outfit. In 2011, three years after Beats was launched by Dr. Dre and Interscope chairman Iovine, the G-Unit general acquired a majority share in KonAudio and rebranded it as SMS Audio, which specializes in headphones, but also sells other electronics and accessories.
“So, when the only task from the actual video department is to make sure that I don’t put my headsets in the actual video — and then when we do see a rough cut, I see SMS Audio that I had on my hat is blurred out of the music video,” he said.
Last week, he confirmed to Forbes that the video in question was “My Life,” his collaboration with Eminem and Adam Levine, which was released in November 2012.
In the end, Fif may have won the battle, as the SMS logo on his hat is visible in the final cut, but the war took its toll.
“I’ve never had a record company at any point… decide to alter the artist’s clothing,” he said.