It’s pretty incredible how many songs on 50 Cent’s monumental 2003 debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, were actually meant for other artists.
The beat for “In da Club” was originally given to D12 but the group didn’t know how to approach the song so they passed. Meanwhile, Denaun Porter aka Mr. Porter has revealed in past interviews that “Heat”, which he produced, was originally meant for Rakim’s Aftermath debut, which, sadly, never panned out. Then there’s the beat for “Many Men”, which Nas had first, according to an interview with the Queensbridge legend’s former A&R Lenny “Linen” Nicholson.
“50 [Cent’s] song ‘Many Men’ was a Nas track first—he actually vocalled it,” Nicholson told Mass Appeal. “He was developing another artist named Nashawn, he had to massively impress Nas. If Nas started something, he would add his vocal to it and see if Nas would be impressed enough to keep it. [Nas] didn’t finish that track, that was a track that he just fell out of love with.”
Since Nas didn’t want to do anything further with the beat, Nicholson asked if he could pass it onto 50, who was coming up at the time. “At that time 50 was looking for something just to stay busy and to keep writing,” the A&R recalled. “I gave it to 50, and it turned into ‘Many Men.’”
While Nas is undisputedly one of the greatest rappers of all time, there isn’t another artist that could have done better than what 50 did with “Many Men.” On an album that boasts classic cuts like “What Up Gangsta”, “Patiently Waiting”, “In da Club”, “If I Can’t”, “Back Down”, “P.I.M.P.”, “21 Questions” and “Don’t Push Me”, you could make a pretty strong argument for “Many Men” being the best track off the project. Plus, those closing lines might be some of the coldest in rap history:
In the Bible, it says what goes around, comes around "Hommo" shot me, three weeks later he got shot down Now it's clear that I'm here for a real reason ‘Cause he got hit like I got hit, but he ain't fuckin' breathin' 50 Cent - "Many Men (Wish Death)" // May 6, 2003
In more recent years, the impact of the timeless song has become even more prevalent with younger rappers like 21 Savage and the late Pop Smoke sampling “Many Men” for their songs. In an interview with Spotify’s RapCaviar, 50 talked about his 2003 track being named the most influential song of 2020.
50 Cent: They made it that for me. The younger artists doing it over, they made it that. It’s because they feel the same way. You can’t make a person decide to write a song. It’s influenced by a song. Creatively, it’s them going you know what? It’s how I feel right now. You know, the tones of what’s going on with them matches the record.50 Cent on Why “Many Men” Is Most Influential Song of 2020 | Spotify