Tony Yayo and 50 Cent are two names that became synonymous with each other during the peak of G-Unit’s success in the early 2000s. As 50 Cent rose to become one of hip-hop’s biggest superstars, Tony Yayo was right by his side as a loyal friend and hypeman. Their journey together spanned decades, going back to their childhood.
So when did Tony Yayo first cross paths with the future megastar 50 Cent? Let’s take a look back at the early origins of their enduring friendship.
Chapter 1: The Early Years in Queens
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Marvin “Tony Yayo” Bernard grew up in the same neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens in the 1980s. 50 Cent was born in 1975, while Tony Yayo came along a few years later in 1978.
50 details how they met as kids on the schoolyard in Queens:
“Me and Yayo been in hip-hop since childhood…we were looking at each other on the schoolyard rapping.”
Growing up, they discovered a shared love for hip-hop and rhyming. As 50 Cent recalls, they began rapping as early as middle school:
“We’d have rhyme battles in the lunchroom. We’d go rhyme in the bathroom.”
Their friendship was cemented from school to the local youth baseball league. They looked out for each other in Queens while honing their mic skills.
Chapter 2: Forming a Rap Duo
As teens in the 1990s, 50 Cent and Tony Yayo decided to join forces and pursue music as a duo.
While 50 brought thought-provoking lyricism, Yayo supplied an aggressive, in-your-face delivery. Their contrasting styles complemented each other well on the mic.
The pair spent time hanging out at producers’ homes and in local studios. 50 Cent came up with their initial group name “Ghetto Child.” They performed at neighborhood block parties to get exposure.
During this time, their friendship and rapport as a duo developed. They formed a tight brotherhood, looking out for each other. Little did they know the heights they’d eventually reach together.
Chapter 3: The G-Unit Era
After 50 Cent signed a solo record deal, he brought Tony Yayo into the fold to form G-Unit. Yayo was one of 50’s first artist signings to G-Unit Records.
Their decades-long friendship made Yayo the obvious choice to become 50’s right-hand man. On 50’s debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Tony Yayo was a prominent force, hyping ad-libs and dropping rugged verses.
G-Unit went on to conquer hip-hop in the 2000s. But at the core was the same enduring relationship 50 Cent and Tony Yayo built from childhood. They achieved their wildest dreams as a team.
Chapter 4: A Friendship Above All
50 Cent and Tony Yayo’s brotherly bond stood strong through all of hip-hop’s turbulent ups and downs. From schoolyards in Queens to touring the world, their friendship endured.
They’ve had disagreements and business conflicts like all partnerships. But the foundation remains rooted in mutual trust and history.
No matter what happens in their careers, 50 and Yayo will forever be bonded through the journey they embarked on together. It started with two kids rhyming in Queens schoolyards and lunchrooms. Their friendship spans a lifetime.