The chance of getting shot by a gun in your lifetime is less than 1%. Unfortunately for New York 'gangsta' 50 cent, he has been unlucky enough to be shot three
times. 50 Cent has also claimed that he has had nine bullets fired at him over his lifetime. As an impartial commentator, what surprises me is not that he has had nine bullets fired at him, but rather that he can count that high. The catalyst for 50 Cents shooting was drug related. A man by the name of Darryl "Hommo" Baum was the alleged assailant, who was coincidently shot and killed three weeks later. Even 50 Cent himself has hinted that his assaulter was killed in retaliation. Nobody steps on Fiddy's turf and gets away with it.
This hasn't been the only controversy surrounding 50 Cent, otherwise known as 'Fiddy' and to his mother as Curtis James Jackson. In the years prior to Get Rich or Die Tryin'
being released, 50 Cent built up a number of rivalries and feuds in the mainstream Hip-Hop scene. His conflict with fellow New York rapper Ja Rule has been well publicised, and stemmed from claims that 50 Cent stole jewellery off Ja Rule, which led to several mix tape 'disses' and 50 Cent's stabbing. In his time in the mainstream Hip-Hop industry, Curtis Jackson has also built up feuds with well known gangsters Lil' Kim, The Game, Fat Joe and Jadakiss.
With such a violent and chaotic past, 50 Cent made the perfect subordinate for Eminem and Dr. Dre to launch into stardom. That highly illegal lifestyle that rappers always write rhymes about was something that 50 Cent had actually been through: drug dealing, felonies, imprisonments, stabbings, and the infamous shootings. Many people today criticize Eminem's latter albums, but one must appreciate the genius in his vision for 50 Cent. Whether he wanted it or not (and he certainly did), Eminem had grand plans of fame, glory and a top selling album with Get Rich or Die Tryin'
. As such, Eminem and his overlord Dr. Dre's influence is clearly felt in Get Rich or Die Tryin'
; most of the songs revolve around catchy repeating hooks with his rough and slightly slurred hard rapping over the top. It isn't the most original musical recipe in the world, but somehow Get Rich or Die Tryin'
manages to avoid the usual trappings of bland mainstream Hip-Hop albums.
aside, Get Rich or Die Tryin'
starts out introducing 50 to the rap world in What Up Gangsta
, proclaiming 'G-Unit we in here. We can get the drama popping' It's going down, cause I'm around. 50 Cent, you know how I gets down.' In non-mainstream circles, modern mainstream rap is often looked down on considered bland generic trash. Luckily for 50 Cent, his tutelage from Jam Master Jay a member from the legendary Run DMC has taught him how to recapture a bit of that 80s and early 90s rap essence. Admittedly, Get Rich of Die Tryin'
is largely considered another generic modern rap album. Most people that share this sentiment have no doubt only heard the three big singles In Da Club
, 21 Questions
In reality Get Rich or Die Tryin'
offers a lot more depth than other mainstream rap albums. At over 60 minutes and 19 songs long it is easy to see that 50 Cent did not take his debut album lightly.
If you're looking for inspired lyrics, then Get Rich or Die Tryin'
will be a big disappointment. Nearly all the lyrics are about 50 Cents past, his future aspirations and just general bragging. 'I make hits about what I do in my leisure. G unit gang, can't another clique out to see us. Girlfriend quit pretending I'm the nigga ya love, and I ain't got to say nuttin you know that I'm thugin.' After listening to Get Rich or Die Tryin'
it is quite reasonable to feel like you personally know 50 cent, after hearing all about his life and his personality. That is unless you're one of his sworn enemies, in which case you would probably want to chuck out another generic Hip-Hop album in retaliation. Although the lyrics can be at times cringe worthy, Curtis Jackson must be given credit for actually writing about his own life. Rather than creating a fake persona like many Hip-Hop superstars have done.
His rhymes may be true to life, but they certainly don't have the flow of more skilled rappers. His pace and rhythm isn't varied much, and although he does very his pitch a bit on tracks like High All The Time
, Many Men (Wish Death)
and Don't Push Me
, the album still feels a bit monotonous. Thankfully 50's droning voice is broken up with guest vocals, as per usual on modern mainstream Hip-Hop albums. One of the notable tag-team efforts is Patiently Waiting
featuring Eminem, with a catchy gruff chorus and interchanging between 50 Cent and Eminem it makes for a surprisingly good song. Like the rest of the album Patiently Waiting
doesn't do anything new and spectacular, resting on its laurels comfortably. But it does make for a catchy rap tune.
What Up Gangsta
is another song that has unforeseen good qualities. With a loud banging bass intro alternating with 50's harsh rhymes and tense shouts of 'What!' To say What Up Gangsta
has any grace at all would be a crime, but anybody expecting Get Rich or Die Tryin'
to be flowing and delicate needs a reality check. What Up Gangsta
makes for a very suitable opening, Get Rich or Die Tryin'
starts out with a bang and gets making a racket the whole way through.
The only song that shows any subtlety is 21 Questions
, one of the three well known hit singles. Like the song title suggests, the lyrics are essentially compromised of questions of loyalty towards 50 Cent's partner. 'Girl...It's easy to love me now. Would you love me if I was down and out?' Unlike the other songs on the album, 21 Questions
actually features soft and subtle tones, and 50 Cent doesn't try to shout down the microphone. Certainly a song for the ladies, it utilizes a basic keyboard arpeggio in the background, with 50 Cent's mushy and sentimental rhymes over the top. It is easy to see why teenage girls swooned over this song, and hiked it up the singles charts. But this doesn't make it a good song, and ultimately it is one of the lesser tracks on the album.
As for the other two singles, anybody that hasn't heard In Da Club
must have been hibernating for the whole of 2003 and 2004. Although you no doubt have built up presuppositions on the song before reading this review, whatever your opinion is; you have to admit that this song was set up perfectly to be a mainstream smash hit. With a video that appeals equally to both genders, and a song that is both catchy and easily accessible, In Da Club
is one of the most cleverly produced songs of the 21st century. It may be frowned upon by everybody outside the social mainstream, but when listened to with an open mind; you too will agree that this is a brilliant song. To compare In Da Club
to old school rap would be idiotic, it is aimed at a new generation wanting instantaneous satisfaction and simplified music arrangements. In Da club
delivers this to its audience perfectly, and is one of the most easily accessible and catchy songs ever made.
takes a more Sean Paul like approach towards mainstream Hip-Hop, with a slow Reggae beat and typical Reggae percussion instruments. Sure it offers a slight variation on Eminem and Dr. Dre's formula for success, but unfortunately that is its downfall. The song does not change at all, with the same bland Reggae influenced rhythm contaminating the whole song. With a bland ceaseless rhythm, the focus goes on 50 Cents rapping. Not a good thing. Amusing rhymes are one thing 'Yeah, in Hollywood they say there's no business like show business. In the hood they say, there's no business like hoe business ya know.' But 50 Cent doesn't have half the rhyming ability as other more skilled Hip-Hop artists, both modern and old school. At times it feels as though 50 Cent is just talking to the microphone in a plain old conversation, not wowing the audience with his fast paced slick rhymes and mad colloquialisms. If you're looking for the next Public Enemy, Ice Cube or N.W.A, then save yourself some time and save Fiddy's pockets from being weighed down with more profit. P.I.M.P.
is testament to the fact that this album is for the modern mainstream audience.
Another notable song that tries something different is Heat
which features the sound of someone cocking a gun as the percussion. The song feels more like a story with the sounds of guns firing, car wheels screeching and police radio. In some ways it is nice to see the producers of Get Rich or Die Tryin'
attempting something a bit different, but the cocking gun gets tiresome quickly, and 50 Cent's vocals don't do anything to save the song.
Besides from the aforementioned songs, Get Rich or Die Tryin'
does contain a number of other highlights. To summarise it shortly, the easiest way to put it is that it sounds like the kind of music a pit-bull would write. It's as if 50 Cent was writing a challenge to his listeners in Get Rich or Die Tryin'
. Back Down
starts off with 50 Cent's impersonation of a huffy dog woof, as well as customary shouts of 'G-unit!' Unalike P.I.M.P.
, Back Down
fits together perfectly, and never grates your the nerves. Back Down
sounds like an uncivilised Ford Mustang intimidating all with its growl. 'If you look closely, 50 don't back down!'
Gotta Make it to Heaven
shares similar traits with a bold melody and rhythm underneath 50's identically styled rap-singing. It may seem odd that 50 Cent preaches in the song 'I gotta make it to heaven, I hope I make it to heaven' considering all his transgressions. But that aside, Gotta Make it to Heaven
is another exemplar of how 50 Cent translates his hardcore rap style into the mainstream music conformities.
It may get a bit tiresome hearing all these similarly styled pit-bull like songs. But if listened to in small portions, you can find a lot to like about this album. High all the Time
may be verging on a confession of 50 Cent's drug related crimes, but the song meshes together perfectly with that simple but catchy melody and 50 Cent's basic gruff vocals. Blood Hound
like its title suggest embodies that pit-bull mentality. And just like High all the Time
, it starts out with puffs of 'the good *** ' then slides into another straightforward melody with 50 Cent's rhymes over the top. Where Eminem and Dr. Dre hit success in producing this album is in the songs that follow that tried and true Hip-Hop formula of a simple rhythm and melody with macho lyrics over the top. Stir and repeat. And on this album, they certainly follow that formula a lot.
Akin to other modern rap albums, the last song is remarkably good. The rapping is at its smoothest and slickest on Life's on the Line
, possibly due to the fact that 50 Cent doesn't feature in the song at all. Life's on the Line
has a relatively fast beat, a catchy chorus and overall is one of the only songs on this album that doesn't have any noticeable flaws. Making it one of the highlights on Get Rich or die Tryin'
Despite committing more acts of hubris in Get Rich or Die Tryin'
than the entire Greek Civilisation combined; the gods have smiled down wildly upon this album, granting it far more success than Curtis Jackson's allotted 15 minutes. I find it strange that the unoriginal songs on this album are the highlights of Get Rich or Die Tryin'
, but it is clear that 50 Cent just doesn't have the talent to flirt with his creative spirit. The first people that should be praised for Get Rich or Die Tryin'
are the producers, who have clearly done an amazing job in translating 50 Cent's rough pit-bull sound into a mainstream friendly product. This may deter many away from this album, which is quite sad, as this album has some very nice highlights outside the three main singles. If listened to for long periods, the album will melt together into one loud dog like woof of 'G-unit!' As such Get Rich or Die Tryin'
is best listened to in small doses, and especially at parties.
Where the producers stick to that mainstream friendly formula, they have created terrific songs. Where they have tried to experiment, they fall short of pop perfection. But of course this can be excused in an album that is over 60 minutes long, and the one or two bad songs can be easily skipped. Eminem and Dr. Dre have effectively covered up most of 50 Cent's shortcomings in Get Rich or Die Tryin'
and have certainly amplified his good aspects. The lyrics on Get Rich or Die Tryin'
are decidly blunt, and say a big up yours to 50 Cents enemies, whilst also bragging about his achievements and talking about his aspirations. 50 Cent does show promise for the future, and if he improves on the formula of Get Rich or Die Tryin'
in future albums then he can and probably will produce one of the greatest rap albums of the decade. His only limitations are time and his enemies lurking menacingly over his shoulder.
Ultimately, what you get out of this album depends on how you approach it. Those expecting Get Rich or Die Tryin'
to be a revival of old school rap will be sorely disappointed. Those who listen to it with an already negative bias due to the over played In Da Club
will be sorely disappointed. Those who just want a nice catchy mainstream Hip-Hop album will find everything they could possibly want in Get Rich or Die Tryin'
. So I say just go with the flow and enjoy Get Rich or Die Tryin'
for what it is, not criticize it for not being what you want it to be.
Savour it while it lasts, as the chances of 50 Cent getting shot in the next few years is 100%. And I don't think he'll survive another 9 attempts on his life.