Welcome to That Was a Thing. In this series, a Grantland writer goes in the way-back machine and dials up a pop-cultural moment from the past, examining it with the benefit of hindsight.
50 Cent wrote a love song once. That was a thing.
He had some other songs that people (maybe) thought were love songs but weren’t really love songs. There was one called “Puppy Love,” which sounds like a sweet thing, but the first line is him being thankful that his girlfriend had either an abortion or a miscarriage (“She was pregnant by me once, glad she didn’t have it”), and things move along in that direction from there. So … nope.
He had another song called “All His Love,” which started out like it was a love song (“He gonna give you all his love / He gonna give you all his time”), but we find out pretty quickly that 50 is describing a nice guy only to highlight how not-nice 50 is (“I be like, ‘Fuck a bitch, I’m trying to stay rich’”). 50 describes a bunch of women he keeps company with (“Fat bitch, skinny bitch, short bitch, tall bitch”). While admirable in its wide-ranging inclusiveness, this is not love. In fact, in this case, it might be the opposite.
He also has a song called “A Baltimore Love Thing,” but it’s a song in which he pretends to be heroin. We’re wandering further and further away from the shore.
50 Cent did write a real love song once. It was called “21 Questions,” from 2003’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’. In the song, 50 Cent is asking his girlfriend all of these questions to find out if she really loves him. I was a little surprised to find out there actually were exactly 21 questions in the song — 19 from 50 Cent and two from his guest vocalist, Nate Dogg. I guess I thought maybe he wasn’t paying close enough attention. I don’t know. I’m embarrassed that I was surprised, though.
Here are the 21 questions, and whether they are fair to ask when trying to figure out if someone loves you.
1. Would you love me if I was down and out?
This is a good place to start. It’s fair. Almost every guy wonders this about the woman he’s with. I remember being in college and asking my then-girlfriend if she’d still like me if I didn’t have everything I had. She was like, “You know you don’t have a job, or a car, or even any groceries right now, right? You know you don’t have any muscles and you need braces, right? You know you’re not that smart and your clothes are weird, right? You know — ” and I was like, “I … get … it, bro.”
2. If I fell off tomorrow, would you still love me?
Just an extension of that first question. Still fair.
3. If I didn’t smell so good, would you still hug me?
Saying you smell “so” good establishes a Good Smell Level. If you smell less good than very good, but still kind of good, it’s fair to argue she’s “no good” if she won’t hug you anymore. But if you go from smelling very good to smelling very much like you’re carrying a dead mouse in each of your pockets, then no, it’s not fair to argue she’s no good for not hugging you.
4. If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter-century , could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?
We have to consider a number of things.
How long were you together? Because you can’t ask a girl this if you’ve been dating for three months. At three months, you can’t even ask a girl to hold on the line while you answer another phone call. Basically, the rule is “a girlfriend (or wife) has to wait for you to get out of prison only as long as you were dating.” Were you together 25 years? Then it’s fair to ask her to wait. But even then, you still have to pass these next two steps.
What was the crime you committed? Was it something terrible? Did you eat a person? Was it something less atrocious, but still personal and thus disqualifying you from her life? Like, maybe you set her mom’s house on fire? Nope. Any of those, then nope. Really, the only good answer here is you were wrongfully convicted. And even if that’s the case, you still have to pass the last step.
What are the parameters attached to “support me mentally”?
1. Does that mean she has to write you once a week? That’s not fair. You want her to go to the post office 52 times a year, for 25 years? That’s 1,300 times. THIRTEEN HUNDRED. I’ve never done anything 1,300 times. I’m certainly not going to the post office 1,300 times.
2. Does that mean she has to answer your collect phone calls twice a week? A 15-minute phone call from prison costs about $3.75. Twice a week puts her at $7.50. That’s OK, I guess.
3. Does that mean she can’t meet and love any other guys? That’s not fair. When I was in ninth grade, I got grounded for a week for throwing a basketball through a window in response to losing a pickup game. During that time, my then-girlfriend cheated on me with a guy at the zoo.1 She was completely within her rights.
AT THE FUCKING ZOO, BRO. Who ever even heard of such a thing?
Verdict: not fair.
5. If I went back to a hoopty from a Benz, would you — poof! — and disappear like some of my friends?
This would definitely be a not cool thing to do. Totally fair question.
6. If I was hit and I was hurt, would you be by my side?
How bad were you hit? Did you take a stray in the leg? Are you laid up for a couple of weeks? Fair to ask. Did your whole body get exploded, and so now you’re just a brain that’s living in the stomach of a robot like Krang in Ninja Turtles? Not fair to ask.
7. If it was time to put in work, would you be down to ride?
This is the best question. It’s just a rounded version of “If I was going to commit a drive-by, would you participate?” This is actually one of the questions they ask on Match.com. Fair.
8. If I ain’t rap ’cause I flipped burgers at Burger King, would you be ashamed to tell your friends you feelin’ me?
This one is fair, but it’s also deceptive. Because of Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America, we know there’s a possibilty that every fast food employee is potentially royalty in disguise.
9. In the bed, if I used my tongue, would you like that?
Well, what are you using it for? Are you using it for sex-related things? Then that’s probably fair. Are you using it to turn over a pillow and fluff it? Not fair.
10. If I wrote you a love letter, would you write back?
Fair. If she won’t write you back then she doesn’t love you.
Real story: When I was in eighth grade, there was this girl named Jackie who I liked a bunch. I used to write her letters. In one of them, I told her she needed to break up with her boyfriend and be with me instead. She responded that she wasn’t going to do that. What I should’ve done is been like, “Cool,” and kept it moving. But what I did was not that. What I did was super not that. I wrote her another letter, and I wanted to show her how sad I was about her decision, but I wanted it to be more intense than just putting a few sad faces in it, so what I did was, real quick, splashed it under a water faucet. Why? SO IT’D LOOK LIKE I CRIED ALL OVER IT. That’s a real thing. That’s a real thing I tried. That’s a real thing I tried to do to win the affection of a girl. Guess what? It did not work.
11. Now would you leave me if your father found out I was thugging?
Fair to ask.
12. Do you believe me when I tell you, “You’re the one I’m loving”?
I don’t know how this equates to her loving you but, sure, I guess it’s fair.
13. Are you mad ’cause I’m asking you 21 questions?
This is fair. It’s actually very annoying to ask someone a bunch of questions. Look at the inverse here: If you ask her this question, and she says, “Yes, please stop,” then that means she’s good. She loves you. If you ask her this and she says, “No, please continue,” then that means she is a psycho and already knows exactly where she’s going to bury your body after she deads you in your sleep tonight.
14. Are you my soul mate? (’Cause if so, girl, you a blessing.)
Soul mates aren’t real. If she says yes, you have to ditch her, because otherwise you’re going to get in a lot of trouble when people find out you’re dating someone who believes in fairy tales. This is a trick question, but it’s a fair question.
15. Do you trust me enough to tell me your dreams?
Fair. Be sure to know, though: Trusting someone enough to tell him or her your dreams is the lowest level of trust, FYI.
16. I’m staring at ya’, trying to figure how you got in them jeans.
That’s not a question, 50.
17. If I was down would you say things to make me smile?
This one is actually pretty sweet. Fair.
18. If I was with some other chick and someone happened to see, and when you asked me about it I said it wasn’t me , would you believe me or up and leave me?
This is a good question to ask if you want to find out if a girl loves you but it’s an even better question to ask if you want to find out if she’s going to put up with you cheating on her. Fair.
19. How deep is our bond if that’s all it takes for you to be gone?
How deep is your bond if you cheat on her and she leaves? It’s the right amount of deep. This shit ain’t that hard to understand. It’s a mean thing to do. Don’t cheat on people. Especially don’t do so at the zoo.
20. Could you love me in a Bentley?
Fair to ask. But also a bit of a setup. “Oh, my bad, I have a Bentley” is like when you job interview and they ask what your biggest weakness is and you’re like, “My biggest weakness is that I work too hard sometimes,” instead of saying your true weakness, which is that you have a history of stealing shit from every place you’ve ever worked.
21. Could you love me on a bus?
Fair. And gross. My dad drives a bus in the city. He’s done it for 30 years. One time he found one of those Mickey Mouse watches that have the arms that move when you click the button on the side and it starts to sing. That was neat. I was happy he found that on the bus. Most of the other time he just found vomit or whatever.