In an exclusive Q&A, the summer's hottest touring duo talk about bad raps and good fortune -- an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly's May 30, 2003, cover story

By Rob Brunner
Updated May 26, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: 50 Cent Photograph by Martin Schoeller

For much of the past decade, Jay-Z has been hip-hop’s heaviest hitter, delivering one cross-over smash after another (”Hard Knock Life [Ghetto Anthem],” ”Big Pimpin’,” ”Girls, Girls, Girls”), innovative party jams about money and cars and girls…and money and guns and money. 50 Cent is the new kid, an up-from-the-underground success story whose major-label debut, ”Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” has ruled the charts since its February release. Both rappers came from nothing, selling drugs to get by in their New York neighborhoods (Jay-Z in Brooklyn’s Marcy projects, 50 Cent in South Jamaica, Queens). Both have seen their share of violence: Jay pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge that stemmed from the stabbing of a record exec in 1999, and 50 was famously shot nine times in May 2000, in a street-war incident. And both turn out to be charismatic, good-natured, and funny — nothing like the stone-faced braggarts they portray in their videos.

In a summer tour season ruled by headbangers, the 34-city Jay-Z/50 Cent tour — which kicks off June 25 in Hartford and will include Missy Elliott, Snoop Dogg, and Sean Paul on various dates — promises to be a particularly riveting money machine.

Entertainment Weekly sat down with Jay and 50 to talk about how they’ll count all that cash — and who really is the greatest rapper…