In perhaps the best example yet of the G-Unit crew's marketing genius, the group's fourth member became a household name with only a couple of big-label cameos to his credit. Tony Yayo was imprisoned on weapons charges while 50 Cent's posse became stars during the summer of 2003. But it never hurts to have Eminem wearing your name on a T-shirt at the Grammys and demanding your freedom, and that bit of name-branding paved the way nicely for Yayo's solo career.
Of course, Yayo was no Johnny-come-lately. He and 50 were old friends; together they founded G-Unit with a series of hot-selling mixtapes at the dawn of the millennium. But it wasn't until he was released from the joint in early 2004 -- a freedom revoked for several weeks when Yayo presented his parole officer with a phony passport on his first day out -- that the Queens native could begin work on Thoughts of a Predicate Felon, a debut that shot to No. 2 on the Billboard charts on the strength of the expected guest shots (50, Eminem, et al.) and the usual G-Unit mix of rugged rhymes and ear candy.