South Jamaica native and rap superstar Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson returned to his old neighborhood Saturday after his foundation sponsored a fun-filled day at Baisley Pond Park in an effort to fight childhood obesity.
“I was chubby growing up,” Fitty said as screaming fans did everything they could to get his attention, snapping pictures on their cell phone cameras. “It took my adult years to get fit. [Childhood obesity is] right in front of me in many ways.”
Jackson and his G-Unity Foundation hosted the event, called Forever Young, at Baisley Pond Park, where the rapper provided healthy food and bouncy castles, including one featuring an inflatable version of his face.
Dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, white Nike sneakers and a white Yankees cap, 50 Cent smiled and clapped as The Elite Drumline, a Jamaica-based group, performed for him.
He also saw kids doing double-Dutch jump rope and the day was filled with relay races, break dancing, batting areas and a tennis clinic put on by the Arthur Ashe Foundation.
Instead of staying active, 50 Cent said kids today play video games and “go on social networking and post their picture.”
While some stars abandon their roots after they hit it big, 50 Cent has embraced his past.
Living in South Jamaica “kind of shaped everything I do as an artist,” the rapper said. “I write stuff from my past experience growing up. I had some good times here. I just try to provide opportunities for kids to have those good times also.”
Some of that past experience includes some dark events, including getting shot nine times in 2000 and a lengthy rap sheet.
Steven Carthan, 26, director of The Elite Drumline, said the group were not nervous performing in front of 50 Cent because they had played for him before.
“We love it,” he said. “Pressure makes diamonds or busted pipes and we’re going to make diamonds today.”
South Jamaica resident Joseph Wallace said he appreciated how 50 Cent has not forgotten where he grew up.
“He’s giving back to the ’hood,” said Wallace, 26. “He’s a good dude.”
Southeast Queens has spawned some of the most famous rappers on the hip-hop scene, including Run-DMC, JaRule, LL Cool J, Nas, Q-Tip, Mob Deep and Lloyd Banks, who joined Fitty at the event and is part of the performer’s G-Unit crew.
“It was a good opportunity” to meet 50 Cent, said South Jamaica resident Daniel Ginez, 18.
“You know he cares about the community,” Ginez said. “A lot of people leave and don’t come back.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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