Early last year, formerly staggering wealthy rapper 50 Cent filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. As his case nears settlement, the hip-hop artist born Curtis Jackson has annoyed Judge Ann Nevins with his Instagram activity by posting images of himself surrounded by stacks of cash. Not the best look when you’re figuring out how to pay back creditors upwards of $28 million.
50’s lawyers, however, had a brilliant, borderline offensive argument for why those pictures were necessary for the rapper’s persona: Poor hip-hop fans want rappers to look rich so they can aspire to be just like them.
“I’m not going to ask you whether you listen to his music or have seen his videos or anything like that, but if you look at Mr. Jackson or other hip-hop artists, they’re aspirational,” one of 50’s lawyers says in a court tape released via TMZ. “They come from poverty. Many of their fans are poor. They want their favorite rapper to be rich. Money is important to them. You look at his pre-bankruptcy persona, look at some of the videos, money is important. Filing the bankruptcy by definition presented a real challenge as to how it’s going to be handled.”
In arguing that it’s all about the perception of wealth, 50’s team also claimed the money seen in the pictures was prop cash. That, in turn, apparently prompted the Secret Service to begin questioning 50 about counterfeit money. Out of the frying pan, eh?
Fake or not, Judge Nevins understood how creditors might be incensed by such apparent flaunting of wealth while in the middle of a high-value bankruptcy case. In response, the lawyer said that appearing rich was actually just a way for 50 to secure more high-paying acting gigs and endorsements. “I could understand why it would inflame creditors of the estate, but I think they’re sophisticated,” he tells the judge in the tape. “They now appreciate what’s one person’s inflammation is another one’s way of maximizing recovery. If Mr. Jackson conducted himself say with more discretion, more tact, he wouldn’t be getting people endorsing him for high premium items. He wouldn’t be getting movie parts. He wouldn’t be having great roles on TV.”
50 Cent appears in the Starz show Power, and recently cameoed as himself in Spy. So I guess images and videos like those underneath the courtroom audio below are actually working pretty well for him.