He was born Curtis Jackson, but he made his mark on the rap world performing under his childhood nickname. His third album, Curtis, debuted Sept. 11. 50 Cent will now take your questions
Is it Curtis or 50 Cent? Maggie Shaw, New York City
It's 50, but the album title is Curtis. It made perfect sense for me to title it Curtis, considering my grandfather is Curtis Sr., his firstborn is Curtis Jr. and I'm his first grandchild, so my mom named me after him. I'm Curtis III, and this is my third album. 50 Cent was a name that kind of stuck. For me, it was a metaphor for change. That's what made me utilize it when I actually started rapping.
What should we expect from your new album? Ignacio Meza, Los Angeles
You should expect a lot of surprises. For my last two albums, I isolated myself to working with only members of G-Unit [50 Cent's original rap group]. On this album I worked with Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Mary J. Blige, Akon, Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls, Dr. Dre and Eminem. I'm in a place where I'm secure enough to have all these other talented people around me because I've proven myself, with my first two projects selling over 21 million copies.
Why don't you do more hard-core stuff like you did on Get Rich or Die Tryin' [in 2003]? Raveen Bhasin, Dallas
I take into consideration what the music business is facing with things like the Don Imus situation. I think it would cause a full uproar if I wrote [hard-core] lyrics from that perspective all the way through my album. That's why I released Curtis instead of my next project, Before I Self Destruct. It's more of a hard-core sound, and it would be too aggressive for this period.
Is your beef with Kanye [West] for real? Erika Ramirez, Houston
I said I would retire if his album [Graduation, also released Sept. 11] sold more than mine. I think people would like for it to be a beef. Then it would be really uncomfortable for Kanye, wouldn't it? I'm already conditioned for those things, but he'd have to adjust. My car's already bulletproof.
Why do rappers use so much slang that the average 50-year-old can't understand them? Gabriel Goldenberg, Montreal
Some audiences have to come to you. You can't cater to everybody. Kanye West's record is aimed at a straight pop audience. It may work for him now, but I don't believe that will exist long. That base has no loyalty at all.
You took a bullet to your face. Has that changed your rapping style? Ravi Rami, Houston
It changed my voice. I still have a fragment of a bullet inside my tongue. And I have a hole in the back of my mouth. This is the voice that works, though. This is why I believe it happened for a reason. The voice before I got shot was the one that not many people listened to.
You have a home in suburban Connecticut. Why did you move outside the city? Susan Ashley, Houston
I generate a lot of interest in New York City, so it's difficult. If I was going to a nightclub or if I was just getting out of the car to go to the store, it'd be difficult. It's way different here, because it's a country setting. I don't even leave my house to go to the store. I send somebody else to do it.
I know you like to work hard and play hard. What's your favorite place to vacation? Janelle Robison, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Vacation's at home. I do so much traveling that when I just stay at home, it feels like I'm on vacation. All you have to do is turn the phone off. The house is big as a country club anyway.
Are you endorsing a particular candidate in the '08 election? Haren Para, New York City
No, but I like Hillary. I think she was already our President once. [Laughs].
Any plans for another movie? Conor Egan, Belmar, N.J.
I've got a film called Righteous Kill. It's myself, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Donnie Wahlberg, John Leguizamo. [Laughs]. If you ask me, I'm the next Denzel Washington.
For more from 50 Cent and to subscribe to the 10 Questions podcast on iTunes, go to time.com/10questions.