March 10, 2005

50 Cent- The Massacre

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For the past two years, I had nothing but respect for one of the hottest rappers in the game. 50 Cent (born Curtis Jackson) mixed street violence and drug sales with love songs and smooth choruses like it was as easy as pushing an ounce of crack in Southside Jamaica Queens. I promised myself before I agreed to review this CD that I would never oust a rapper who rocks more Kevlar than Tupac, but for any of you expecting a 1-2 knockout follow-up to 50’s platinum Get Rich or Die Tryin’, you will be hard pressed to find it in his new album, The Massacre.

That’s not to say that 50’s latest attempt is a musical failure. In fact, it’s likely bound for commercial success due, once again, to the invisible but awesome hand of Dr. Dre. Undoubtedly, people will follow TRL’s hypnotic commands and flock to record stores across the country, as controversy and contrived beef always seem to sell records. Could it really be a coincidence that the recent Hot 97 shooting and the public dropping of The Game from 50’s label both happened on the week of this release? Despite the media hoopla, the real story is how, once again 50 and the gang rely on the same formula as they did the last time around. It’s hard not to naturally gravitate toward the incredibly slick and club-ready production of Dre, Eminem and Scott Storch. Not to mention, the beats on the singles, “Candy Shop” and “Disco Inferno,” are as strong as ever for 50 joints — expect to hear the song “Outta Control” hit radio soon. While every track on Die Trying had great intensity and the ever present, out-of-key, gangster-drawl hook, this newest collection of songs feels less catchy and more like already-been-done repeats. 50’s latest sing-along joint, “Candy Shop” is almost a note-for-note rendition of Lil’ Kim’s hit single “Magic Stick” featuring 50 Cent himself! You didn’t notice? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

50 is definitely banking on the fact that you are dying to embrace the violent-yet-lovable gangster style that made 2003 the year of “Fiddy.” There was something genuinely appealing about him back then that just seems to have disappeared on The Massacre. With Die Trying he played the poor cat that wandered to your doorstep in the rain, leaving you thinking, “He’s got such a nice smile, he’s on his ninth life and I can dance to his songs! Can we please keep him Mommy?” However, the hip-hop fan who once found Jackson’s violent ways and sympathy-inducing lyrics on tracks like “Gotta Make it to Heaven” so appealing, may be hard pressed to feel the same way now that he’s no longer the scrappy underdog. 50 is constantly followed by a personal security team, manages his own rap label, lives in mansions and drives Ferraris. With an upcoming movie and video game, not to mention living the lifestyle of an acclaimed rap superstar, who still has time to shoot people? How 50 has not managed to go soft is a feat in itself. As quoted in the recent MTV 50 special, “I’m bringing the street to the cul-de-sac!” On the controversial cut, “Piggy Bank,” 50 attacks four of New York’s biggest rappers. Violent lines like, “You wanna spray at me, go ‘head, the last nigga that tried, got hit, keeled over, and bled ’til he died” are tame compared to some of the more graphic threats heard here.

However, 50 doesn’t really rely on Eminem as much as on Die Trying and has mostly grabbed the reins by himself — dropping off 24 tracks for our consumption. The length of the album is almost hard to ignore, and by the first hour mark, 50’s verses are already starting to feel stale. Vibier songs such as “So Amazing” and “Hate it or Love It” are highlights, but unfortunately don’t show up until the end of the album, at which point you’ve almost had enough.

As far as flow, Fifty does make some attempt to switch up his sing-song swagger. On the bouncing track, “This is 50,” he takes on a sweet southern drawl, while on “God Gave Me Style,” he sounds more like a confident Jay-Z on his way out on the Black Album. The effortless approach that used to make Jackson appear to be a natural talent, now comes off more as a general “lack of effort” leaving the listener feeling as if 50 phoned in parts of the album. What happened to the young 50, whose hilarious, “How to Rob an Industry Nigga” wowed early fans and producers alike? Needless to say though, if it’s the bad boy that you’ve been craving, especially with last year’s weak G-Unit attempt, 50 has released enough formulaic material to get you through a few months of intensive care in a hospital bed.

Archived article by Ben Jurist
Sun Contributor