In 2002, Eminem listened to a copy of 50 Cent's Guess Who's Back? mixtape album through Jackson's attorney, who was working with Eminem's manager Paul Rosenberg. After being impressed with the mixtape, Eminem invited 50 Cent to Los Angeles where he was introduced to producer Dr. Dre. 50 Cent signed a one million dollar record deal with Dr. Dre and released his next mixtape, No Mercy, No Fear. It featured the 8 Mile single, "Wanksta", which was later put on Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Both Eminem and Dr. Dre had started working-productions on his debut album with additional help from producers Mike Elizondo, Sha Money XL among others. The first single "In da Club" was the first of seven tracks he recorded in five days with Dr. Dre. The next single "21 Questions" was not in line to be on the album to Dr. Dre, he stated that he did not want the song on the album. According to 50 Cent, "Dre was, like, 'How you goin' to be gangsta this and that and then put this sappy love song on?'" 50 Cent responded saying, "I'm two people. I've always had to be two people since I was a kid, to get by. To me that's not diversity, it's necessity." "Back Down" and "Heat" were instrumentals originally composed by Rakim, Tommy Coster and Dr. Dre. They were both originally intended to be used on Rakim's debut Aftermath album, Oh My God, but due to creative differences was not released. Early pressings of Get Rich or Die Tryin' included a limited edition bonus DVD.
Its second single, "21 Questions", became 50 Cent's second chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for four non-consecutive weeks. It spent seven weeks on top of the BillboardHot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. Outside the States, "21 Questions" reached number six in the United Kingdom. It was certified gold by the RIAA. The third single "P.I.M.P." was shipped with a remix featuring rapper Snoop Dogg and trio-group G-Unit. It was the third single that peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on "Hot Rap Tracks", becoming the third single from the album to peak in the top then on the "Hot 100" chart. It also reached number one in Canada. It was certified Gold by RIAA. The album's final single, "If I Can't", peaked at number seventy-six on the Billboard Hot 100 and thirty-four on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.
Get Rich or Die Tryin' debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 872,000 copies in its first week. On December 9, 2003, the album was certified sextuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of six million copies. It was among the best selling albums of the decade, selling 12 million copies by the end of the year. It remains as 50 Cent's best-selling album to date, with sales of over 9,000,000 copies in the United States making it the fourth highest selling rap album of all-time in the United States. In Russia, the album was certified 5x platinum, selling 120,000 copies.
Viewed as a classic upon its release,Get Rich or Die Tryin' has been called the most hyped rap debut in over a decade. At Metacritic, it holds an aggregate score of 73 out of 100, based on 19 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Allmusic writer Jason Birchmeier called the album impressive and incredibly calculated in his positive four star review.Rolling Stone's Christian Hoard commended 50 Cent's undeniable showcase of skill, radio-ready tracks, and marketable thug persona in addition to the album's production for its dark synth grooves, buzzy keyboards, and persistently funky bounce. Brett Berliner of Stylus Magazine gave Get Rich or Die Tryin' a B rating and commended 50 Cent for his variety as a rapper. It is one of only 19 rap albums to receive a perfect rating from XXL magazine. In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album a two-star honorable mention (), indicating a "likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy." He cited "What Up Gangsta" and "Patiently Waiting" as highlights and quipped, "Gets no cuter as his character unfolds."
"In da Club" earned the number-one spot on Billboard 2003's single and album of the year, the first since Ace of Base had both in the same year. Album cut "Back Down" was listed on XXL's list of the greatest diss tracks of all time. In December 2009, Billboard magazine ranked Get Rich or Die Tryin' at number 12 on the magazine's Top 200 Albums of the Decade. In 2012 Complex named Get Rich or Die Tryin one of the classic albums of the last decade.