Get Rich or Die Tryin, 50 Cent
As I sit here listening to 50 Cent's big mainstream label release, Get Rich or Die Tryin, I suddenly have a nagging urge to go out and gangbang. Part of this reason is that 50 Cent's notoriety as a crack dealer and general thug has preceded him well before "Wanksta" received airplay. The other part of this reason is that, as far as theme goes, Get Rich or Die Tryin is all about the violence. And while I have been known to have violent tendencies, listening to 19 songs about it can drive anyone mad.
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN
First, let's take a look at why Mr. Cent might be so angry. Raised by grandparents because of an absent father and the premature death of a mother, 50 Cent was often found on New York Avenue, where he led a crime-ridden life. It wasn't until his son was born that he decided to enter the music world. He quickly signed with Run DMC's Jam Master Jay. In 1999, he found his big break when Columbia took an interest in his underground material and signed him. How to Rob, one of the singles from Power of a Dollar, angered many people in the rap industry. In the song, 50 Cent explains how he would rob famous people, including Master P and Timbaland. This, quite understandably, created controversy, and was just the prelude to the tidal wave that was to follow.
Because of heavy bootlegging, Columbia pulled the plug on the album. Then, in the April of 2000, 50 Cent was shot nine times, taking a 9 mm bullet to the face. While recuperating, Columbia dropped him like a bad habit. But never one to back down, 50 Cent released an independent album, Guess Who's Back? (Back again…) With this release, Jive, Universal and J all wanted a piece of him. Eminem stepped in, and with Dr. Dre's approval, ultimately signed 50 Cent to his Shady/Aftermath label, a contract that was reportedly over $1 million dollars.
And thus, Get Rich or Die Tryin was born. But the story doesn't stop here. A war of words erupted between 50 Cent and Ja Rule. Wanksta, which can be found on the 8 Mile Soundtrack and Get Rich or Die Tryin, is allegedly aimed at Mr. Rule (listen to the track and see that it can apply to half the people in the industry). In return, Ja Rule went on record saying that he would gladly shoot 50 Cent. He also released a freestyle called Loose Change, a crack at 50 Cent's moniker. In the rap, he calls Eminem "Feminem" and talks smack about Hailie Jade, Eminem's daughter. 50 Cent and Eminem, in turn, have recorded a freestyle to respond to Ja Rule's threats. And so it goes.
But let's get back to Get Rich or Die Tryin. Eminem and Dr. Dre have each produced five tracks off the album, and Eminem guests on two of the tracks. Most noticeable is the fact that Dr. Dre's produced tracks make the album, while Eminem's tracks can be categorized as the weaker material on the CD. Whether it's because Dr. Dre has more producing experience or because Eminem didn't want 50 Cent to become more successful than him is not explained, but it is disappointing that Eminem's efforts were lackluster.
Most of the songs concern themselves with violence, fame, drugs, women, and money. There is some variability with this. For example, the violence may have to do with veiled threats or shootings or stabbings, and when 50 Cent talks about money he could be talking about all the money he has, the money he didn't have, or the money that other people want. Still, the songs are your typical gangsta rap fare. Hey, they tell you to write what you know. What sets 50 Cent apart from the others is the fact that he's lived through all this.
Like Eminem, 50 Cent is not afraid to change up his style. In Da Club is fast-paced, while in 21 Questions things are slowed down. He also experiments with different sounds - Many Men (Wish Death), Heat, and Life's On the Line feature prominent gunshots in the background. Some artists have the uncanny knack of being recognizable. When you listen to a song for the first time, you can pinpoint the artist because of their voice, sound, or style. For instance, Nelly, Eminem and Snoop Dogg have all found their niche. 50 Cent is not quite there yet, but with his first mainstream release, he has shown that he rightly deserves to be selling records (not naming names, but Ashanti, you're just lucky).
Notable tracks on the CD include Patiently Waiting, "In Da Club," "Wanksta" (which I actually prefer to "In Da Club"), "21 Questions," Don't Push Me, and Like My Style. Unfortunately, "Patiently Waiting" was produced by Eminem, features Eminem, and sounds like Eminem. In fact, almost all the tracks produced by Mr. Slim Shady sound like his work, right down to the way in which he raps. While this may not be a bad thing in general, it can be detrimental to someone else's project. In contrast, Dr. Dre's produced tracks ("In Da Club" and "Wanksta" among them) have a unique style that sets them apart.
Get Rich or Die Tryin is not a bad CD - most of the songs will find an audience. 50 Cent is not a bad rap artist either - he can freestyle with the best of them, and being tapped by one of the best teams in the rap industry is one of the highest compliments that an artist can receive. He will go places, granted that he be allowed to spread his wings and fly. I'll be patiently waiting for his sophomore release, but for now, Get Rich or Die Tryin is good enough. ¤ C.Ho.
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN: (out of 5)