The inaugural Sound Of list singled out New York's 50 Cent as the brightest star on 2003's horizon. The rapper lived up to the promise as his album Get Rich or Die Tryin' hit number 1 in the US and number 2 in the UK on its way to selling 15 million copies globally, while single In Da Club topped charts worldwide. 50 Cent continues to release music, most recently 2009's Before I Self Destruct, amidst a career which has seen him set up record labels, forge a promising acting career and appear in an episode of The Simpsons.
Other notable inclusions in the first countdown included fellow New Yorker's Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol, who helped re-ignite an interest in post-punk that forged a path for British acts such as Editors, Franz Ferdinand and The Kills. Also making the list were Dublin's breezy retro popsters The Thrills, and Jamaican dancehall king Sean Paul. Placed fifth was Dizzee Rascal, who won that year's Mercury Prize with his debut Boy In Da Corner, propelling the Bow MC to the level of mainstream acclaim which saw the Rascal score four number one singles from 2009 album Tongue N' Cheek.