Rapper 50 Cent, scheduled to perform in Philadelphia as part of a worldwide concert aimed at highlighting global poverty, has pulled out of the show as a result of a dispute with event organizers over trade policy. Sources close to Mr. Cent say that he is unhappy with the event's anti-globalization tone and wants to work more closely with the world's powerbrokers known as the G8, no relation to Mr. Cent's own G Unit.
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LONDON-- Rapper 50 Cent, scheduled to perform in Philadelphia as part of Live 8, a worldwide concert aimed at highlighting global poverty, has pulled out of the July 2 show, citing a dispute over trade policy. Sources close to Mr. Cent say that he is unhappy with the event's anti-globalization tone and with organizer Sir Bob Geldof's hostility to the World Trade Organization, the international body that referees the rules of trade between nations.
Get rich or die tryin'
The multi-platinum artist officially blamed scheduling conflicts in his decision not to perform in Philadelphia; Mr. Cent is currently shooting an autobiographical film based on his experiences growing up in an ownership society, entitled "Get Rich or Die Tryin". The Philadelphia show, one of 8 concerts being held from Canada to South Africa next weekend, is expected to attract as many as 2 billion viewers.
Mr. Cent has been replaced in the Philadelphia lineup by artist, producer and noted critic of corporate globalization, P. Diddy.
Conflicting world views
Sources close to the rapper say that despite his initial excitement about the project, Mr. Cent's enthusiasm began to wane in recent week as Live 8 organizers, most notably former Boomtown Rat Sir Bob Geldof, began to make increasingly radical statements about global capitalism. Sir Geldof has called for a million protestors to travel from the Live 8 concert in London to Edinburgh, Scotland, site of a summit of the world's most powerful countries, known as the G8. The G8 has no connection to Mr. Cent's own G Unit.
Fears of a 'massacre'
Mr. Cent is said to have expressed concerns that a march of that size could endanger participants and local residents, and lead to the type of violence between protestors and police witnessed at anti-globalization protests in Seattle and Genoa. But it is the tone of the dialogue that is said to have caused Mr. Cent the greatest concern. In a statement released by his publicist last week, Mr. Cent all but ignored the Live 8 organizers, reaching out instead to the G8 member countries:
"50 Cent applauds the recent decision of the G8 to cancel the debt of some of the world's poorest nations. He extends his best wishes to participants in the Gleneagle's G8 summit and looks forward to the further implementation of the Africa Action Plan."
The Lexus and the Olive Tree
Mr. Cent's outspoken defense of the World Trade Organization makes him a rarity among rappers today. He was one of the few rap artists to back the candidacy of Carlos Perez del Castillo of Uruguay for the top job at the WTO. Rap artists including P. Diddy, Jadakiss and Fat Joe threw their support behind del Castillo's opponent, Pascal Lamy of France, a supporter of so-called "controlled globalization," an idea that Mr. Cent and others dismiss as nothing more than Western protectionism.
Sources close to Mr. Cent attribute his willingness to break with his posse on issues of global trade to the rap star's trademark brash swagger and to a book that he read during his lengthy recuperation from 9 gunshot wounds in 2000: Thomas Friedman's 1999 volume, "The Lexus and the Olive Tree." "Those were dark days for 50," says a friend of the rapper. "That book really opened his eyes and convinced him that there isn't a country out there that has upgraded its living or worker standards without free trade and integration."
Do you think 50 Cent did the right thing by pulling out of the Live 8 concert? Talk back to Russell D'Arby.