Believe it or not, rapper 50 Cent has no problem humbling himself when it comes to getting the things he wants. That’s exactly what a young Curtis Jackson did to get a taste of the boardroom, even before he had a taste for life as a multi-platinum rap star.
Somehow, back when he was a Jamaica, Queens, teen, the now-$40 million mogul met businessman Jesse Itzler, the owner of a small music marketing company called Alphabet City Sports Records. The two started talking and came to the conclusion that each one had something that the other one had to offer.
At the time, in addition to the record company, Itzler was sort of a rapper under the name Jesse Jaymes. He called his style “frat-rap” and was successful enough to collaborate with ’90s chart-toppers like Tone-Loc. One of his songs, “College Girls (Are Easy)” became a club hit and another song, “Shake It Like a White Girl” reached No. 74 on the Billboard 200 Charts in 1991. Eventually, the latter regained new life as a featured track on the “White Chicks” soundtrack in 2004.
For the “In Da Club” rapper, it was gaining some business experience, for Itzler, it was tapping into the youthful genius of a kid with his ear to the streets, a love for sports, and a gift for rhyming.
50 Cent posted Itzler sharing the story as a motivational clip on giving people a chance and loyalty.
“I have this kid who’s a boxer, who wants to be a rapper, but he wants to get some business experience. So we made a deal that he would intern for me for whatever experience I could give him, and in exchange he’d help me write these jingles that I was doing at the time,” Itzler explains.
The relationship was fruitful, with both learning from each other and sharing the same “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” spirit.
Itzler’s jingle company began crafting catchy tunes for sports teams, including “Go, NY, Go” for the New York Knicks, and was hired by 50 professional sports teams to write and produce franchise jingles. Additionally, Itzler produced the theme song for “Inside the NBA” and contributed to music campaigns for Foot Locker and Coca-Cola.
His work even earned him an Emmy Award for the NBA song “I Love This Game.” The success in this space allowed him to diversify his portfolio.
“Fast forward 10 years later, we go on our own way, and 50 becomes this amazing international star, and I have a private jet company called Marquis Jet,” he continued, adding, “And by fluke, he’s a guest on one of our airplanes.”
Itzler said he had the pilot take a note to the guest that said, “50, you’re never gonna believe this. This is Jesse from the jingle company and you’re on one of my airplanes.”
The businessman shared that from that day forward 50 mandated in “all of his contracts” that Marquis Jet would be the only private airline he would fly on.
“That is a lesson on loyalty,” Itzler said, “And you never know who the next 50 Cent is gonna be.”
In the caption of the post, 50 Cent confirmed that the hippie-looking white man was telling the truth in his story, writing, “This is 100% percent true Jessie is my guy, I think he owns the Atlanta Hawks now I gotta catch up with him. #bransoncognac #lecheminduroi.”
In 2023, both men are wildly successful, 50 Cent being a leader in music, television & film, and adult beverages. Itzler, whose estimated net worth is $200 million, has multiple businesses — including one incubator that helps entrepreneurs grow their enterprises — and is a New York Times bestseller with “Living With a Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet.”
He and his partners, including billionaire majority partner Antony Ressler and former Duke and NBA star Grant Hill, purchased the Atlanta Hawks from Bruce Levenson for $850 million in 2015.
Itzler is also married to Sara Blakely, the billionaire creator of Spanx.