50 Cent
Get Rich or Die Tryin
Shady / Aftermath / Interscope
2003
B



what can be said about 50 Cent that I didn’t say in my recent Pop Playground article? Not a whole lot, except that his debut album, while not even close to perfection, is one of the freshest to come out in years.

50 Cent is, essentially, a great battle rapper. His ability to craft songs with interesting concepts, however, is what sets him apart from most other mediocre rappers. This is one of the reasons that 50 Cent will sell several million copies, and Canibus has not sold that in four albums. As talented as Canibus is, very few people want to hear someone rap about the same thing for one hour. This is where 50 excels. Certainly, none of the songs have concepts as amazing as “One Mic”, but again, 50 is chasing a different aesthetic here. His concepts help keep things fresh, instead of numbing your mind with its ingenuity. On the second track, “Patiently Waiting”, 50 and Em trade verses about lingering in the underground. Instead of the normal braggadocio about the struggles they went through, they talk about how those years were a wonderful learning experience, and their improvement in the present day because of the training that it provided them. 50, in particular, brags about honing his craft and how that prepares him to have material for years. “Gotta Make it to Heaven” is a fairly typical subject, a thug coming to grips with his past sins, but 50 pulls it off with inventive lyrics that barely sound trite or overused. He even takes concepts that have been beaten into the ground and makes them his own. “P.I.M.P.” is a humorous account of his promiscuity and playa-ability, but it’s more than filler. 50’s charisma and wit keep him from creating songs that don’t matter. Even “High All the Time” has it’s share of lines like “I don't smoke to calm my nerves but I got beef / Finna crush my enemies like I crush the hashish“. Most importantly, the CD seems fresh even after repeated listens- one thing that ensures keeping a CD in regular rotation.

Dr. Dre. Eminem. Sha Money XL. Megahertz. Kon Artis. These men (and a few others you haven’t heard of) have come together to create an interesting rhythmical landscape for our rookie. Dr. Dre steps up wonderfully on “In Da Club”, the fantastic first single from Get Rich or Die Tryin’, creating a beat that is almost typical Dre, but with an interesting addition of Mike Elizondo’s strings in the background to melt into a song that will please all Dre fans, and most club-goers. In addition, Eminem brings a great beat for their duet, “Patiently Waiting”, complete with fanfare and strong bass reminiciscent of most Eminem tracks. Kon Artis’ Carribean drums on “P.I.M.P.” only add to the melting pot, capped off by “Wanksta”’s high pitched siren-esque masterpiece, and the haunting and elegant strings on “Don’t Push Me”. Overall, the production is commendable, excellent in some places, very good in others.

In the near half-decade since “How To Rob” came out, skeptics have blasted 50 Cent for his lack of lyrical dexterity. Those same people just don’t get it. 50 Cent isn’t about rhymes with deftness rivaling Pharoahe Monch, he’s about entertainment. He represents what rap is supposed to be: fun. He even could be considered a throwback to the days when it was more about what you said and not how you said it. There isn’t a single rhyme on Get Rich or Die Tryin’ that is unbelievable. Sometimes he’s funny, sometimes he’s serious, but he’s never the same. The variety and talent this album offers is enough to recommend it to almost any rap fan.


Reviewed by: Brett Berliner
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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