50 Cent, Busta Rhymes celebrate generations of rappers ahead of hip-hop's milestone anniversary

BROOKLYN, New York – 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes are bridging the gap between generations of hip-hop.

Thursday night, on the eve of the genre's 50th anniversary, the rappers paid tribute to the past for 50 Cent's The Final Lap Tour — an homage to the 20th anniversary tour of "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" — and showed the future how it's done.

"At midnight tonight, hip-hop turns 50 years old," Busta Rhymes (real name Trevor George Smith Jr.), a Brooklyn native, said to a roaring crowd at Barclays Center. "Can you believe this? 50 years old. At midnight."

The moment proved to be extra emotional as an audience mostly decked out in New York-branded apparel celebrated hip-hop's anniversary a few boroughs away from the genre's birthplace.

50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson) played into the nostalgia of the crowd with favorites from his debut album including "In Da Club," "21 Questions," "P.I.M.P.," What Up Gangsta" and "Many Men (Wish Death)" as smoke, fire and sparks were set off on stage.

Several of the songs reference his upbringing in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, and 50 Cent paid homage with a digital set showing brownstone buildings, the Queens Plaza Station stop on the subway and bodegas.

50 Cent performs onstage during the 50 Cent: The Final Lap Tour at Barclays Center.

50 Cent, 48, had the energy and charm you'd expect from his 20s when he released "Get Rich or Die Tryin,'" proving that rappers have the same vocal longevity as pop stars.

The Queens rapper offered the glitz in the form of pricey jewelry and his troop of background dancers added the glam. For his raunchier numbers, the dancers sauntered across the stage and flexed their athleticism from the poles to a synchronized chair dance.

50 Cent later diverted from his debut with hits "Hate It or Love It," "Candy Shop," "This Is How We Do," and more, with the help of Uncle Murda and G-Unit rapper Tony Yayo.

Speaking to USA TODAY in May, 50 Cent promised his tour was going to get into some of his less popular songs. "Sometimes out of habit, you go to certain records. People love other things on it, so I want to make sure I touch those records before I don’t do those anymore," he said.

On Thursday, he delivered, separating fans of his popular music from die-hards as he got into "Hustler's Ambition," "Soldier," "Gotta Make It to Heaven," "Southside," "In My Hood" and more.

PHresher joined 50 Cent on stage for The Final Lap Tour at Barclays Center.

The rapper's set was loaded, as were his guest appearances.

Fat Joe, Young M.A, Bobby Shmurda, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, PHresher and 50 Cent's tour opener Jeremih took the stage throughout his set. 50 Cent also paid tribute to Pop Smoke, performing his verse of the late Brooklyn rapper's post-humous song "The Woo.

Previous:50 Cent on what fans can expect on his 20th anniversary tour (not upside down crunches)

Busta Rhymes brings out Lola Brooke, Remy Ma and Scar Lip

Prior to the headlining performance, Busta Rhymes, 51, upped the ante with an explosive set.

The rapper and his longtime collaborator Spliff Star had the stadium holding their breath as they tackled "Touch It," "Pass the Courvoisier, Part II," "I Know What You Want" and more with hardly any breaks.

Spliff Star and Busta Rhymes were a dynamic duo at 50 Cent's The Final Lap tour stop at Barclays Center.

His set also included tributes to the birthplace of hip-hop in the form of younger talent.

Brooklyn's Lola Brooke joined Busta Rhymes on stage to rap her hit "Don't Play With It," Harlem rapper Scar Lip kept the crowd in line with her song "This Is New York" and Bronx legend Remy Ma spit her verse in M.O.P.'s "Ante Up" remix, which also features Busta Rhymes.

If there's one message 50 Cent communicated Thursday night: hip-hop is the past, present and future.

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