On March 8, 2003, 50 Cent's smash hit "In Da Club" hit #1 on the Billboard 200, and stayed there for nine weeks. The story of how the song came about is a pretty short one — 50 says he knocked it out in under an hour.
The Beginning: A D-12 Rejection
As the story goes, Dr. Dre was planning to give the track to Eminem's group, D-12 for the 8 Mile soundtrack. Dre and Mike Elizondo, who co-produced the track, created four or five beats using the same drum programming but alas, D-12 wasn't interested. Enter 50 Cent, who most certainly was interested. He was working on his very highly anticipated debut album, and gobbled the track up instantly, recording "two-track” vocals over the bare instrumental at Teamwork studios in the basement of G-Unit manager, Sha Money XL's house in Long Island.
“He’s able to make the worst track sound good because he pulls melodies out of it,” Sha said of 50. “So I already heard how he was attacking it.”
Perfect Timing: A Trip to L.A. and Drums From the Legendary DJ Quik
Two weeks later, they headed to L.A. with the track in hand, to fatten it up a bit with Dr. Dre and Elizondo (with drum programming by DJ Quik). “We didn’t want to layer it with too much stuff to clutter it up,” remembers Elizondo. “Dre was using the concept of ‘less is more,’ but make it sound as big as possible.”
In an interview with Pitchfork, DJ Quik explained how it was working with Dr. Dre, saying that's when he was at his most creative. “I was findings samples and making clap sounds that nobody else was doing,” he said. “Just super raw, raucous-ass beats. Hopefully, I can catch that back and do another 'In Da Club.' Wouldn’t that be awesome.”
Quik further explained how his drums were used on "In Da Club" in an interview with Village Voice. "They don’t even know why they like that song “In Da Club” by 50 Cent. They just know that they’ve heard it more than any other song, and it never gets old somehow. Well, it’s because I helped Dr. Dre with the drums. I gave him those claps, and that kick. He acknowledges that now. I used to say for years, “You guys don’t understand! I gave Dr. Dre those drum sounds!” “Yeah, yeah, okay David.” And now when I go into the studio with Dre, he’ll tell his people. And I’m like, Dre, that right there is worth more than any advance you could have ever paid me, any royalty or publishing. Acknowledgment like that from you? I’m good."
The Big Decision: Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Fast forward to the eve of 50's giant release for Get Rich or Die Tryin'. There was a debate between the crew about which song to roll with as the lead single — "In Da Club" or “If I Can’t." Obviously, the "Go shawty, it's your birthday" refrain won out.
"There’s only three birthday songs: the regular one, the Stevie Wonder one, and ‘In da Club’,” 50 remembered, explaining in part why the song's been so popular for so long.
"In Da Club" shot to #1 on the charts, and stayed there for 9 weeks. It remains 50's biggest song — surpassing 1 billion streams on YouTube in 2020, and is arguably one of the most instantly recognizable tracks in Hip-Hop history.