The streaming era is well underway, but many of the game’s most beloved artists came of age during an era when music was consumed in an entirely different manner. For them, buying physical copies of albums in stores was an integral part of the process, and when a certain project was making waves, it was damn near impossible to escape it. For Royce Da 5’9, with whom we spoke to for our ongoing HNHH Presents: The 12 Days Of Christmas interview series, those undeniable records carried an energy that simply isn’t present these days.

Royce Da 5'9"

Royce Da 5’9″. Image via artist

“[50 Cent‘s] Get Rich Or Die Tryin was like, energy and numbers at the same time,” he reflects, speaking on the landscape when he was coming up. “You heard it in every store walking in the mall. You heard it in every car at stoplights and shit like that. Now, you could do those same numbers, a million the first week, and never hear it! It’s crazy. But you know what, it’ll be a million the first week not because a million people went out and bought it, but because you have a certain fan base who takes in music a certain way that garners more numbers.”

“You’re talking about a whole different conversation,” continues Royce. “You’re not talking about that’s the biggest artist right now. That’s not the biggest artist right now. That’s a big artist right now. But that’s not what 50 Cent was at Get Rich Or Die Tryin. It’s almost like that’s the thing of the past now. So you can either look at it that way or not.”

50 Cents

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Those who can remember the game when 50 Cent dropped Get Rich Or Die Tryin can attest to its sheer ubiquity. In its first week, Fif’s debut sold 872,000 physical copies, making it the biggest opening in hip-hop history. The following week, the Shady/Aftermath classic sold an additional 822,000 copies, giving 50 his first platinum plaque in exactly fourteen days. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing one of the album’s singles, be it “In Da Club,” “P.I.M.P,” or “21 Questions.” It’s interesting to look back on what 50 Cent accomplished and compare it to the number-one albums of today; do you think there’s a difference, as Royce is suggesting?

For more from Royce Da 5’9, be sure to check out our entire conversation with the rap legend right here: Royce Da 5’9″ Reflects On Grammy Nom, Lil Wayne’s Legacy, & If The Current Era Creates “Timeless” Music.