As a child, Marquise Jackson watched his father 50 Cent make his career-defining debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in their living room. Today (Feb. 6), on the seminal album’s 14th anniversary, Marquise embarks on his own rap career with “Different,” his debut single, premiering exclusively on Rap-Up.
“That’s the first song that I ever, ever made,” says the 20-year-old. “[It’s] my first complete song with a hook and verses and everything. It was more or less me just venting, me getting a lot of frustrations, a lot of feelings out. People say they can hear the hunger inside the track and that’s what I was feeling at the moment.”
But Marquise, who says he started rapping less than a year ago, doesn’t have his superstar dad by his side for this release. In fact, he can’t remember the last time they spoke and their ups and downs have been chronicled for years, including heated exchanges on social media. “Different” touches on that strained relationship too. “Lost my pops,” Marquise raps. “He’s still alive.”
“Growing up, my dad was my superhero,” he explains. “It was like having a father who was Superman, more or less. But then, as I got older, you start realizing things or you start seeing certain patterns and it takes an effect on your relationship with people. That’s what happened with me and my father.”
During his exclusive interview with Rap-Up, Marquise opens up about his famous father, his burgeoning rap career, and why he’s influenced by Dr. Dre, Nas, and, surprisingly, Ja Rule.
What inspired you to start rapping and who were some of your early influences?
I was always around it. I grew up around music, not only because of my father, but my mom [Shaniqua Tompkins] and my entire family is musically inclined. Everyone around me loves music. Whether I was playing basketball at the time, I would always listen to music before games. Music does something to you and it’s supposed to spark an emotion. That’s what it does for me, so I’ve always had a love for it but I never thought that I’d be making music, ever. I knew I always loved it, but I didn’t think I could do it.
You bring up your father on “Different.” You say, “I lost my pops. He’s still alive.” What was your relationship with him like when you were younger and at what point did that change?
It completely went south when I was probably like 10 or 11. He wasn’t really around enough. It kind of dwindled down as time went on and certain events happened. For me, I just started feeling differently about him because growing up, my dad was my superhero. He’s on television, he does this, he does this, he would take me to school. It was like having a father who’s Superman, more or less. But then, as I got older, you start realizing things or you start seeing certain patterns and it takes an effect on your relationship with people. That’s what happened with me and my father. He’s still alive but I can’t tell you our last conversation or the last time we even had a dialogue.
“Growing up, my dad was my superhero”
You’re releasing “Different” on the anniversary of Get Rich or Die Tryin’. What inspired that idea?
The title of my upcoming mixtape is Escape. I’m really trying to escape from his shadow. When people see me, they automatically think of my father. I never want it to feel like I’m filling somebody’s shoes or I’m not my own person rapping. I just felt like it was only right that I did it on the anniversary of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ to show that this is not him behind this: this is me, this is what I’m doing. This is for me. I’m my own man. I’m not trying to follow anybody else’s legacy. I’m trying to create my own.
“I’m really trying to escape from his shadow. When people see me, they automatically think of my father”
Has he heard your music? Have you shared it with him at all?
No. Only my family members and close friends have heard my music. It’s definitely like a first impression, introduction.
What do you hope he thinks of your music?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I don’t even know what to say to that. I don’t know. I don’t even have an answer for that.
Were you in the room at all for those Get Rich or Die Tryin’ recording sessions?
There was a stereo in the living room and he would sit in front of the stereo and he would write right in front of me, right in front of the TV. I would be playing PlayStation or something like that and he would just be writing right in front of me. It’s so crazy because I wouldn’t think that I would be rapping. This is the last thing that I probably ever wanted to do. I had no idea that I would be doing this.
“This is the last thing that I probably ever wanted to do. I had no idea that I would be doing this”
Your song “Different” is a callback to Dr. Dre’s “What’s the Difference” featuring Eminem and Xzibit. What motivated you to go back and dig into that 2001 classic for the hook?”
I was in L.A. when I wrote the song and I was listening to . I was just so in awe of it because it’s an album that was made in  but production-wise, it can stand toe-to-toe with any album today. I was so in awe of it that I couldn’t stop listening to it while I was in L.A. You want to tap into what a person’s thinking from a different coast because different coasts make different music, right? So I just wanted to tap into the vibe of what L.A. people feel like. What greater way to do that then to listen to ? I’m just influenced by it and that’s probably one of my favorite songs that I kept repeating. It just felt right when I got the beat from Jimmy Kendricks. It just felt like, “I just have to do it.” I could have come up with a more original hook, but I was like, “Nah, this has to happen.”
You were around Eminem as a kid. What was that like?
I was on tour with my dad for [2003’s] “Roc the Mic [Tour],” I believe. He was a real quiet guy, a real humble guy, from what I can remember.
Looking back at those times when you were around those giants in hip-hop, including your father, Em, Dre, G-Unit, what did you pick up from them consciously or subconsciously?
My biggest influence is God, mostly, honestly. But subconsciously, I think I picked up on a few things. I remember being in the studio a lot of times and not understanding. People would play the beat over and over and listen to one thing. A lot of times, when I was young, I couldn’t hear it. I was like, “I don’t know why we’re in the studio for this long, playing this song over and over and over.” But now, I understand it. These are certain things that you’re doing yourself and you’re in the studio for hours, just listening for that thing. I’ll be in the studio for hours, playing one little snippet or something like that and then I’ll start to laugh because I’ll remember how I did not know why people did it [in the past]. So I don’t think it’s things I picked up; it’s just things I realize now that I didn’t understand when I was young.
That’s interesting. Take me back to a time when you heard a beat or a song and how that memory compares to how you make a song.
I would have to say Nas’ “Hate Me Now.” Nas is my favorite rapper, like ever. Nas’ “Hate Me Now” is one of those songs where I don’t know what it does. It puts me in a weird place. I was so small, I couldn’t understand. I wasn’t old enough to know what it was but now, it still does something to me and it was made so long ago.
It seems like a lot of your influences are from when you were younger. Do you find yourself being more into music from that era?
I would say it’s more of a mixture because today’s music is a form of past music. It’s just evolved. Everything’s evolving. I do a little bit of singing and I do a little bit of rapping. Automatically, I would probably fit into that Drake, [Lil] Wayne, Bryson Tiller, or a certain type of lane, right? But as far as I can go back into my mental rolodex, Ja Rule was probably one of the first to do it and I listen to a lot of Ja Rule because of that. So, it’s more like tapping into both. It’s like a history book. You’re able to get things now that you don’t think about but when you go in the history books and you look back, you realize, “I’m into this because of this. Somebody else opened that door.” So I feel like it’s only right that you know why you’re able to do certain things today and why it’s cool to do certain things today.
“Ja Rule was probably one of the first to [sing and rap] and I listen to a lot of Ja Rule because of that”
Some readers are going to see that and say, “Marquise, you’re releasing this song on the anniversary of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and you just said one of your influences is Ja Rule.” Obviously, that’s one of your dad’s longtime rivals so some might criticize you for that. What would you say to those critics?
I just love music, at the end of the day. Simple as that. I’m not a biased person. That’s one thing about me. I’m not really a biased person. If you make good music, you make good music. Even if you made a song about me that I thought was fire, I’ll probably say, “Man, that joint was hard.” You can’t deny it. It’s just facts. It’s not even that “Different” is a diss song. It’s more of me venting and showing my feelings on certain things. A diss song would be me clowning on somebody or me trying to embarrass somebody. It’s me just showing different aspects of my life, stuff I go through, and how I feel, through my perspective.
“I just want to make good music. That’s all I want to do”
When can we expect your Escape mixtape?
It’s a process but I’m pretty much in the home stretch right now. We’re just a few songs away. After that, I’ll be releasing a lot more projects everybody can hear.
Going forward, do you plan to turn this into a career?
To tell you the truth, I just want to make good music. That’s all I want to do. I just want to give people a great listen, something they can relate to, whether it’s a kid or another adult. I just want to make good music that provokes emotion.