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Back in December of 2005, it was just another day at the office for 20-year-old Rod Toole, when his cell phone suddenly rang. On the other end was Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson urging the Arizona-based MC to quit his day job as a mortgage broker to take a shot at hip-hop stardom in New York City.

“I’m at work like, ‘Are you serious? Shut the fuck up!’” says Rod, who is still in awe seven months later. Unlike most new bucks, Hot Rod’s golden opportunity didn’t stem from mixtape notoriety or the underground battle circuit. Instead, he took a more conventional route and sent a copy of his homemade CD to the G-Unit office. “All the way up to that point everybody that I talked to said the whole demo thing was a wrap,” says Rod, about his disc that ended up in the hands of his future boss. “I was the type of nigga like, ‘Whatever, I’ll send a demo because I know my shit was hot.’”

It was Rod’s singsongy flow and party-and-bullshit rap style that reminded 50 of his own favorite rapper. “[Rod’s music] sounds like somethin’ I would do,” says Fif. “If he had the same aggressive content that I have in his music, [then] I would say he’s tryin’ to copy my style. But [his music] is a reflection of his actual lifestyle.”
50 and his fresh recruit had such a similar take on making music that Rod’s debut, Fastlane, was completed in just three weeks, and is now slated for a summer release. “At the end of the day, this project absolutely has to come out now,” says 50, who chose to expedite the rookie’s release despite having well-known Uniters like M.O.P. and Young Buck waiting in the wings.

With his Mary J. Blige–assisted lead single, “Be Easy,” kicking off his LP, Hot Rod is confident that his product will fly off the shelf. “I’ll probably sell 2 or 3 million,” he says. “That’s all I’m worried about. I like the finances.” It’s a good thing he answered his phone.
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