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Review

50 Cent converts into commercialized flop

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November 19, 2009

There’s no denying that in the past decade, rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson III) has evolved from the street-hardened thug who famously declared, “I been hit with a few shells, but I don’t walk with a limp” in “In Da Club,” which quickly became an immortalized part of popular hip-hop and to this day remains a deeply ingrained staple of nightclub playlists.

After all, how many true gangsters reside in lush Connecticut mansions? Jackson no longer even needs pretend to rely on his tough-as-a-brick, drug dealing, street king persona-he’s a brand name in itself, estimated to be worth over $400 million. What’s left to motivate the superstar who knows that any random pop garbage (such as the vomit-inducing “Candy Shop” and “Ayo Technology”) he halfheartedly puts out will fly off the shelves?

Apparently, he has stated that his intention for his latest release, In Case I Self Destruct, was something “more aggressive and darker.” But instead of the fresh-off-the-streets boasting about getting shot nine times, Jackson offers yet another collection of dry and utterly trite rhymes that are sure to bore listeners to death. Apparently, Jackson’s idea of conveying darkness is an album cover featuring a facial close-up in which half of his boxy and always menacing countenance is burnt and scarred. Unfortunately, it comes off as hilariously absurd, as “Fiddy” ends up resembling Anakin Skywalker.

After a whimpering flameout in his publicity-starved “feud” with Kanye West, Jackson is back with his fourth studio album, a selection of sixteen tracks that were actually recorded before the material that appeared on his 2007 LP,
“Curtis.” Even with the production of the incomparable Dr. Dre and guest spots by Ne-Yo and Eminem, this effort is yet another watered-down failure.

The violence-filled “Psycho,” is filled with bad intentions and dangerous weapons. “And where you rest, I’ll make a mess / The hollow tips’ll hit your chest / You cough up blood to EMS,” Fiddy tells us in a monotone voice over an angst-filled beat. But who is he so angry at, and why should we care?

Jackson has never displayed any apparent lyrical skill or ability to follow a beat, but his voice is firm, gruff and always commands attention. The forceful and hard-pounding “So Disrespectful” features a number of sharp personal barbs that never fail to hit their intended target. Here, 50 takes the time to completely rip onetime G-Unit buddies Young Buck and The Game to pieces, and is apparently a response to The Game’s claim that Jackson was sexually abused by his father as a child. “Come on Game, you’ll never be my equal, / Your homies shoot dogs, my niggas shoot people,” he boasts, managing to sound nonchalant and frighteningly sincere at the same time.

The track, “Could’ve Been You,” featuring R. Kelly, is an atrociously sappy R & B effort which seems to be a random collection of semi-sentimental thoughts lacking any purpose or focus. Sadly, it actually resembles soft-core porn more than anything.

Mercifully, this marks the end of the record-yet another thoroughly boring and tired attempt by Jackson to stay relevant in the world of commercial hip-hop that is now dominated by West and Weezy.

Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.