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50 Cent
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'
(SHADY/INTERSCOPE)

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With the hype surrounding Eminem protégé 50 Cent, youíd think his debut was the second coming of Slim Shady himself. The street-hardened, crack-dealing, plenty-shot-up rapper has become public enemy number one in rap circles, stemming mainly from several underground releases that verbally cut up every rapper he could name. But 50 Cent is not the black Eminem (and howís that statement for a snapshot on hip-hop race dynamics in 2003?). While Eminem made his rep off stylish narratives, clever wordplay, and unprecedented, hyperactive self-awareness, 50 Centís virtue is his unapologetic thuggery. He flaunts his status as king of a morally bankrupt world. On "Heat," one of five songs produced by Dr. Dre, 50 delivers a vicarious litany of brash boasts and putdowns against a melodic array of gun-cocks and gunshots. His rhyming is lumbering (lead shoes compared to Eminemís ballet slippers), but also musical. When he finds a sparse, chopped-up piano break to rhyme over ("If I Canít"), or a playful, sugary hook to sing ("In da Club"), itís easy to be seduced by his glorious apathy. Thatís not the formula for rap longevity, of course, and if 50ís status as Most Hated Man in Hip-Hop doesnít get him first, his own limitations will. So, enjoy Get Rich or Die Tryiní while you can.

BY JOSEPH PATEL

Issue Date: February 13 - 20, 2003
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