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Rapstreet boys (continued)


Related Links

50 Cents' official Web site

Joseph Patel reviews 50 Cent's album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

Given the lengths to which the Game goes to prove or tries to prove heís taken advantage of the fact that anybody can become a best-selling rap artist if heís willing to, uh, play the game, 50 Centís rant about the Game ó that heís an opportunist, raps terribly, and had little to do with The Documentaryís success ó seems more self-indicting than anything. Thing is if 50, G-Unitís de facto leader, thinks heís any more of a rapper than Game, well, his new The Massacre (Aftermath) doesnít do much to help his case.

Yeah, heís got a sweet-sounding voice, and yeah, heís got a few good spits: "My black G-unit hoody just reek of marijuana/Cocaine cominí out my pores in the sauna" is smart, if itís his. But the man behind "In da Club" (from 50ís 2003 album Get Rich or Die Trying) knows crack rap doesnít a radio hit make, which is why so much of The Massacre feels like 50 chasing his own clubcentric past. The discís first single, "Disco Inferno," is a poor manís "In da Club," and the similarities between the new discís "Candy Shop" and his 2003 Lilí Kim collaboration "Magic Stick" should have 50 blushing. Instead, he brags: "Look homie I donít dance all I do is this/Itís the same two-step wit a lilí twist."

However self-derivative those songs turned out, 50 should have stuck with the club. But unlike the Game, 50 is convinced heís a "real" rapper. And there he falters, instead coming off as the lispy bully, the humorless thug, and, like his pal Eminem, the self-parodying has-been.

Donít dis Game ó or Nas, or Jadakiss, or Fat Joe ó when you have lines like "What the fuck are you retarded/You touch Shady Iíll leave you dearly departed" on a track thatís called (no joke) "Gatman and Robbin." And donít be saying "Man Iím tired of telliní niggas over and over everything about me be gangsta" if you then intend to spend the rest of the album telling everyone how gangsta you are. Even the possibly clever heroin song "A Baltimore Love Thing," which starts out strong ("After that first night, she fall in love, then chased a feeliní/I hung out with Marvin when he wrote ĎSexual Healingí/Kurt Cobain even good friends, Ozzy Osbourne too/I be with rock stars, see you lucky Iím fuckiní with you"), begins to bore by the chorus ("But you need me, canít you see youíre addicted to me?").

As for the argument that 50ís for the ladies, well . . . machismo and domestic violence in a rap persona are always a touchy subject. Sure, plenty of party people will enjoy co-opting 50ís brutishness when he sings, "I tell the hoís all the time/Bitch, get in my car," but I donít know many who would even want to get over lines like "My game fuck with a bitch brain so she think she wifey/Spend her life savings in a day cause she likes me/Commitment from me/Nah, not likely" ó shitís not smart or even confrontational, just mean and retrograde.

The worst part: unlike The Documentary, The Massacre doesnít have the beats to buoy 50ís hot air. Even with 15 different credits for production, too many songs ride that same Storch dark piano pop-off ó too dark, way too serious. Then when tracks get sweet and Kanye at the end, 50ís thugger-than-thou balloon show from before makes it almost impossible for him to sound convincing on lines like "Put a message in my music hope it brightens your day" and "Every chance I get, I find time to spend with you."

And yet these two by-the-numbers thugs ó one who admits it and looks brilliant, the other who resists and looks the fool ó together have made the most tender Rap Is the Last American Dream songs since Biggieís "Juicy." They know it too ó "Hate It or Love It" appears on The Documentary as an album track and on The Massacre as an extended G-Unit remix. The soul beat clicks a few bpm below an acceptable dance pulse, so for once, the emphasis is on the lyrics. Everyone is on point, 50 especially: "Cominí up I was confused my momma kissiní a girl/Confusion occurs cominí up in the cold world/Daddy ainít around probably out committiní felonies/My favorite rapper used to sing ch-check out my melody." Total "hard-ass gangsta goes soft and has a heart" shockah, but "Hate It or Love It" is a nice reminder why the rags-to-riches ghetto narrative ó which these two jokers will continue to streamline, dull, and exploit ó was a compelling genre in the first place.

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Issue Date: March 18 - 24, 2005
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