How We Do? Rappers Play To, For, The Press

It is the knee-jerk tendency to avoid new money here at the Transom. But usually, our nose only actually turns up at those who hold some illusions on the matter; for instance, those who try to play blue blood like they were born with it.

Curtis Jackson, who performs under the professional name of 50 Cent, and who performed a two-show stint with Marshall Mathers at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday nights, is not one of these poseurs. Although he’s flashy, icy, and loud, he stays candid about his young and swelling bank account. “They call me new money, say I have no class / I’m from the bottom, I came up too fast,” he raps on his recent hit, “How We Do.”

“The hell if I care, I’m just here to get my cash / Bougie ass bitches, you can kiss my ass!” Consider it done!

New money or not, such honesty and defiance go a long away. As Mr. Jackson and Mr. Mathers, who performs under the name Eminem, took the stage on Monday evening, the Transom was sitting deep in the press box; it found their conviction convincing.

And they, evidently, were quite enthralled by us. The entire concert, particularly Mr. Mathers’ nearly 2-hour set, was dominated by media imagery. From a 1950’s-style opening video-biography, which beamed shots of his many magazine covers onto the Garden’s tremendous screens, to his five-minute rant about the tabloids, the show looked as if it had been written specifically for the benefit of the press corps.

Jim Farber of the Daily News took careful notes from his seat so as to flesh out the pre-written “holding story,” penned long before the paper’s 12:30 a.m. closing deadline. Mr. Farber told The Transom that the Garden’s usual press room had been taken over by Mr. Mathers’ and Mr. Jackson’s entourages, so time was even tighter than usual.

Luckily, the Daily News folks would not have all that much to change—every stop of the rappers’ Anger Management tour had been almost identical, and the scripted jokes, songs, and skits had already been recounted in every newspaper in the country.

By the end of the show, the press box was near-deserted. The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones, who sneaked a low-key cigarette during Mr. Jackson’s set, left halfway through to catch another show, and Mr. Farber had to take off early to make his deadline. Besides New York Times pop music critic Kelefa Sanneh, the only reporters remaining during Eminem’s encore were from the Star-Ledger, Newsday, and, of course, High Times Magazine.

After the show, two members of Mr. Jackson’s G-Unit rap crew, who use the professional names Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, went for a little joyride in a van with ten friends. The driver ran a red light at the corner of 8th Avenue and 41st Street. A nearby police car pulled the van over. According to All Hip Hop, the officers found a loaded .40 caliber and a .357 handgun in the van.

All twelve passengers were arrested on weapons charges. Still, Mr. Banks and Mr. Buck were released, without bail, and were back on stage the very next night.
—Leon Neyfakh

How We Do? Rappers Play To, For, The Press