Today’s generation may not be as familiar with 50 Cent’s music catalog as previous ones, but they certainly know his business dealings. The Queens native has become a dominating force in film and television, but his first successful business venture was in fashion, thanks to his company G-Unit Clothing.
During the height of his musical career, the “I Get Money” rapper inked a multimillion-dollar sneaker deal with Reebok. The G-Unit sneaker became a cultural wave in the early 2000s as the rapper and then-artists Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, and Young Buck sported the footwear in their music videos.
In a new interview with Complex, Reebook’s CEO Todd Krinsky revealed that at one point in the partnership, a pair of G-Unit sneakers nearly outpaced a pair of Air Jordans in a similar colorway.
Krinsky shared, “We were selling like, you know, 40-50,000 per color at a time. I remember that back-to-school, we sold on one color, like 75,000 pairs. I’m not saying, by the way, that G-Unit was ever close to Jordan in any way. I’m saying that one moment in time, that one colorway, I think we sold in almost as many pairs as the Jordan launch for that period.” He added, “[50 Cent] was always saying how many Jordans sell this week. I’m telling you, he was literally asking that every week or every time we had a meeting.”
The executive also spoke about how involved the rapper was in the partnership: “50 was also incredibly immersed in the business. Like he came to every meeting on time, ready to go, and his first question every meeting was, ‘How many pairs we sell this week?’”
In 2014, during an interview with radio personality Ebro Darden, 50 Cent briefly spoke about how important it was for him to be seen in the shoes, which resulted in higher sales. Still, some of them didn’t take the deal as seriously as he did.
The rapper said, “[Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, and Young Buck] had Reebok deals but forgot to wear the shoes, so I stopped paying them,” he continued, “Jay Z used athletes to promote his S. Carter’s. I used my artists to help bring them additional money because they weren’t demanding enough interest to have the [shoe] deal on their own.”
He eventually cut ties with Reebok for a deal with Marc Echo before parting ways with the company in 2008. G Unit clothing is now sold exclusively online.
Watch the full episode of The Complex Sneakers Podcast here.