Southside Queens is where the famous rapper 50 Cent (a.k.a. Curtis James Jackson III and Fiddy) got his start. Fiddy calls Southside his hometown neighborhood in his autobiography From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens and also in his film Get Rich or Die Tryin'.
Southside, Queens Facts
You won't find the name Southside on any map. To 50 Cent, Southside Queens means South Jamaica, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, which on the street is often called Southside, South Side, or Southside Jamaica.
South Jamaica is south of downtown Jamaica, south of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) tracks and Liberty Avenue, all the way south to Baisley Boulevard. Its western side is the Van Wyck Expressway, and it runs east to Merrick Boulevard (and Saint Albans) (Map of Southside Queens via Google).
Northside, Queens Facts
The Northside to South Jamaica is Hollis, Queens, another neighborhood of hip-hop royalty (Russell Simmons, Run DMC, LL Cool J). It is a vibrant middle-class neighborhood, mainly African American, with tree-lined streets of single- and two-family homes.
Southside Jamaica is also predominately African American, though more and more immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean have moved in since the 1970s. It is a working-class neighborhood mostly of one and two-family houses and small apartment buildings. There are large public housing projects that dominate two sections.
Southside, Queens in the 1980s
In the 1980s Southside was an epicenter of the crack epidemic. Highly organized drug crews made huge profits selling to crack addicts, and they murdered anyone who stood in their way.
The cold-blooded slaying of rookie NYPD Officer Edward Byrnes was a watershed event in changing public and government reaction to the drug wars. The NYPD escalated arrests, and laws changed to increase prison time for drug arrests. During his 1988 election campaign, George H. W. Bush carried Byrnes' badge as a rallying symbol.
Southside, Queens Today
The violence of that era has subsided dramatically in South Jamaica. Drugs and gangs continue to be a problem only in certain areas of Southside.
Overall, life has changed for the better since the 1980s. CUNY's York College relocated and expanded its campus in the 1980s and early 1990s, and now enrolls 6,000 students. The AirTrain terminal to JFK was built at Archer and Sutphin, where Southside meets downtown Jamaica. And like neighborhoods across New York City, families in South Jamaica have benefited from the real estate boom with rising property values.
Is 50 Cent For Real About Southside?
50 Cent's depiction of Southside is not the case for many of its residents.
However, 50 Cent's success as an entertainer rests heavily on the promotion of events in his own life that did occur in South Jamaica. He served time in prison for dealing drugs. He was not, however, a big-time dealer, but a street hustler, slinging crack. 50 Cent's arrest by an undercover officer was at 134-25 Guy Brewer Boulevard, outside the Rochdale Village Co-ops.
50 Cent was born and raised in South Jamaica by his grandparents. His mother was a drug dealer, murdered by an unknown assailant. 50 Cent currently lives in Connecticut, preferring to stay away from the neighborhood where he was shot in May 2000, outside his grandparents' home.
Other Famous Hip-Hop South Jamaica Residents
- Irv and Chris Lorenzo, formerly of hip-hop record label Murder Inc.
- Ali Vegas, rapper, and member of The Drama Kingz
- Aasim, rapper
- Lloyd Banks, rapper
- G-Unit, rap group
- Grafh, rapper
- Roi Heenok, rapper
- Nicki Minaj, rapper
- Kwamé Rapper & producer
- Frenchie, rapper
- Tony Yayo, rapper
- Waka Flocka Flame, rapper
- Sutter Kain, rapper & producer
- Lost Boyz, rap group
- Mr. Cheeks, rapper
- Sticky Fingaz, rapper, actor, and member of Oynx
- Fredro Starr, rapper, and member of Oynx
- POnyxahe Monch, rapper, and member of Organized Konfusion