You know, it's pretty hard to be a successful musician in today’s world. The vast majority of artists are either unsigned or laboring in relative anonymity. It seems like rappers have it easy. They don't have to learn an instrument or collaborate with a band. All they have to do is, well, talk. Despite that, these rappers get paid more than most any band you've heard of. Is that really fair? Well, it certainly is in some cases. Despite what it may look like to the uneducated metalhead, there are certain aspects of rapping that require some skill. You have to be able to come up with original rhymes, talk at an even pace for quite a while, and not stumble or stutter over your words. After that, you just have to get noticed by a good producer, and you’re on your way. With all of the skilled rappers out there struggling, it makes you wonder why 50 Cent is signed.
50 Cent seems to have found the express route to success, one that requires little skill. He was noticed in the New York hoods by Eminem, and soon he was signed to Eminem's label. Eminem tutored him and refined his "skills," and got the legendary producer Dr. Dre to produce his albums. He released Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
in 2003, and the album was a smash hit. How could it not be? With 50's chiseled physique on the cover, every girl in America was buying his album, pushing it to platinum status. Despite all of its negatives, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
was a moderately good album. The beats were top notch, and 50 did just enough to make his listeners at least respect him. It was enough, and 50 had got his taste of success. He rushed back into the studio, and two years later churned out his sophomore effort, The Massacre
50 lived most of his life as a hustler in the New York ghettos. He probably lived under very harsh conditions, and everything he had worked for could vanish with a snap of the fingers. It is understandable then that he would do anything necessary to make cash. This album does exactly what 50 desired. However, he sold his soul to make that cash. This is the very definition of a pop-rap album. While Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
at least showed signs of a gangsta rap album, all of those traces have vanished on The Massacre
. On this album, 50 abandoned the urgency of Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
, and ended up making a plethora of slow and meaningless songs. The beats on this album are very slow and relaxed, unlike his tense, hard hitting earlier efforts. In this case, its a direct turn for the worse. The songs end up being boring to listen to. 50 Cent tries to maintain some pretense of toughness despite this. On the slowest song on the album, Ryder Music
, 50 states: "This is what you call ryder music, all of the gangstas are ridin to it." It just sounds so fake, a sound that will abound on this album.
Lyrically, this album lacks any trace of originality. 50 Cent actually thinks that he is "the chosen one," because he got shot nine times and survived. I think he needs to come to his senses. He got lucky, that does not make him some divine, rapping vessel of god. God Gave Me Style is the most self centered, ignorant, arrogant spew of words I have ever heard. When he's not pondering his mission as the next messiah, he's either crooning over women, popping caps, or whining about how everybody hates him. He does this for the entire one hour and fifteen minute running time of this album, and it is incredibly boring and repetitive.
Bragging has become something of a necessity in modern rap albums. All rappers need to give themselves a pat on the back occasionally, it's the socially acceptable thing to do. 50 Cent pounds himself so hard on the back that he breaks his spine. Whether it's bragging about his skill with women on Get In My Car
with lines such as "I got no pickup lines, I stay on the grind, I tell the hoes all the time, bitc
h get in my car," or bragging about his riches in Position of Power
with lines like "I told niggas not to shoot dice with me, look at this stack, I got money, I got money," rarely a moment goes by without 50 Cent complimenting himself. While that would be okay if he had some skill, it sounds just laughable when juxtaposed with rhymes such as "Can you feel it, Em said for me to make ya feel it." While his straight up rhymes are bad, his metaphors are even worse. One example of this comes from Ski Mask Way
, where 50 states: “This town is one big pussy, waiting to get fuc
ked." Not exactly the most poetic thing you’ve heard, is it? If 50 Cent could adopt a bit of modesty, it would be a lot easier to take him seriously.
With 50 Cent spitting all sorts of lame rhymes throughout the album, it would help if he had a good flow. On Get Rich Or Die Tryin
, 50 showed that he didn’t have a top-notch flow, but it was at least adequate. On this album, it sounds almost like a different man rapping. On Outta Control
, when 50 rhymes “Nigga, you in my hood, I thought you understood,” he has to stretch “understood” for a long time to meet the necessary amount of beats for the rhymes. It sounds incredibly awkward. It gets worse. The hook for Piggy Bank
is “clickety-clank, clickety-clank, the money goes into my piggy bank.” While a laughable rhyme already, 50 Cent just messes it up worse with his flow. No joke, he sounds like a retarded kid when he says this rhyme. He puts way too much emphasis on the k’s, and for some reason pronounces it like a robot, starting words abruptly and taking awkward breaks in between words. On the rest of the album, 50 takes many sudden breaks between words and long pauses during rhymes to meet the beat requirements. It is painful to listen to throughout the hour plus running time.
The individual songs on this album aren’t much better. A common problem for hip hop albums is that most of the songs blend together, with similar beats and interchangeable lyrics. That is something that shows up on this album in force. It is tough to remember one distinctive song on this album besides the numerous singles. Dre’s beats, although quality, are much too similar, to the point that they sound the same. It’s tough to determine exactly when Baltimore Love Thing
ends and Ryder Music
starts. The rhymes are often so similar that you could play them back over the beat to a different song, and it wouldn’t sound unusual. That is a sign that 50’s lyrics and Dre’s beats are way to similar. There are a few songs that manage to make a mark, though.
With 50 wandering aimlessly around, there is only one man who can focus him and give him some semblance of direction. It's his mentor and friend, Eminem. Em decided to throw 50 Cent a bone, making a guest appearance on GATman and Robbin. It is the best song on the album by a long shot. 50‘s rhymes and flow are sub par throughout the album, and it's great to hear Eminem come in, with seamless flow and interesting rhymes. A palm-muted guitar is used for the beat, and it is tense and foreboding. The hook is a bit lame, but Eminem's verse and the beat lift this song above the sea of mediocrity that is The Massacre
The singles for this album are, quite frankly, embarrassing. Three singles were spawned from this album, with sort of a fourth with the remix of Hate It Or Love It
. Just a note: the Outta Control on this album is not the same Outta Control that was released as a single with Mobb Deep. I don’t really feel the need to mention the singles individually, because they all pretty much are the same. Not a trace of originality is shown on any of the singles, all of them are about 50 Cent having sex. The beats are typical for pop-rap, and I got to admit that they are catchy. But that is all the songs have to offer. They are meant for club play, and nothing else.
So overall, what does this album bring to the table? It does boast some catchy beats, and a very few good songs. But all of that is buried under a mess of arrogance, mainstream conformance, and unmemorable tracks. 50 Cent shows very little of his rapping skills on this album, it is mostly carried by Dr. Dre’s beats. This is an album that you should not buy, even if you are a fan of mainstream rap. You will be disappointed. A terrible album.
GATman and Robbin
My Toy Soldier