50 Cent and Tony Yayo have a long-standing relationship that dates back to their childhood in South Jamaica, Queens. The two grew up together and were close friends throughout their teenage years, bonding over their shared love of rap music and their experiences growing up in a tough neighborhood.
In the early 1990s, 50 Cent and Tony Yayo began to pursue careers in the music industry, alongside fellow Queens rapper Lloyd Banks. As a trio they released several independent songs and mixtapes, which caught the attention of several record labels.
In 2002, 50 Cent signed a $1 million record deal with Shady Records, where he released his critically-acclaimed debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. Following the album’s success, 50 was granted his own-label, which led to the creation of G-Unit Records. 50 Cent immediately signed both Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo to the label, and they began working on the group’s debut album, Beg For Mercy. Tony Yayo, who was incarcerated at the time was unavailable for most of the recordings and was only able to make two appearances on the album. His image, which is from a photo taken from the photo shoot for Get Rich or Die Tryin‘, is seen on the brick wall of the album cover as he could not be photographed due to the jail sentence.
Following his release from prison for gun possession, Yayo rejoined the group, appearing on subsequent G-Unit albums and becoming a regular collaborator with 50 Cent. The two remained close friends and business partners, with 50 Cent often referring to Tony Yayo as his “right-hand man” and including him in many of his business ventures.
However, their relationship has not been without its challenges. In 2007, Tony Yayo was arrested on charges of harassment and endangering the welfare of a child after an altercation with 14-year-old James Rosemond, Jr, the son of Czar Entertainment founder and drug trafficker James Rosemond (alias Jimmy Henchman). He was later acquitted of the charges, but the incident caused a strain in his relationship with 50 Cent.
In 2014, Tony Yayo announced that he was leaving G-Unit to pursue his own solo career. The announcement sparked rumors of a falling out between him and 50 Cent, but both rappers denied that there was any bad blood between them.
Despite their differences, Tony Yayo has remained loyal to 50 Cent and his loyalty hasn’t gone unnoticed as well. While speaking with Big Boy on Big Boy’s Neighborhood, 50 Cent admitted that he would’ve preferred it if Tony Yayo blew up instead of him.
“My solo album took off so big that I just brought them with me,” 50 said about his success and the formation of G-Unit. “So it was clear that it was me creating opportunity for everybody else in the crew, but we was all together. I wish it would have been Yayo, because then I coulda did all of the business. If he woulda did what 50 Cent did, then I would have been running the whole thing.” He continued, “It would still be two of us. He’d still be 50 cent as the artist and I’d be the largest asset to us.”
He also touched on their relationship during an interview with The Breakfast Club, explaining why Yayo remains one of his closest confidants.
[Yayo] is a different animal. If it doesn’t—you know what? Charlamagne, if he does something wrong, I don’t care what magnitude of it is, he’ll go, ‘My bad.’ And he’ll go, ‘Aight.’ And we just keep going ’til the next time he does something wrong. That’s the relationship! That is our relationship. Now, when you look at Banks, all these other guys, they came in by way of him and they have a different temperament. It’s not like, it’s not the same relationship.”
“So, I don’t necessarily go back to carrying him. Yay is different.”