If rapper 50 Cent were any more hardcore, he’d be dead. Not only is his debut album titled Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, this former crack dealer (born Curtis Jackson) was shot nine times in 2000—once in the jaw and once in the hip, in front of his grandmother’s house, no less. As he sings on “Many Men (Wish Death),” “Many men / Many, many, many men / Wish death upon me.”
But 50 Cent has a major edge over his aspiring killers, as well as most other emcees on the rise, like his executive producers Dr. Dre and Eminem. The latter signed 50 Cent onto the Shady/Aftermath label after Columbia Records dropped him for releasing bootleg records on the street and lampooning ostentatious musical celebrities in “How To Rob.”
Along with most of hip-hop’s current luminaries, 50 Cent has a talent for setting life stories to clever, expletive-laden rhymes and killer beats (pun intended). When he’s not boasting about his talents and mad pimpin’ skillz or taking potshots at his archenemies, he has an autobiography to tell.
And what a story it is. Though “Patiently Waiting,” describes his ascent to success, it’s misleading—if anything, 50 Cent is not patient. If he doesn’t like something, he tells you immediately. Exhibit A: the hypnotic “Wanksta,” a bonus cut also featured on the wildly successful 8 Mile soundtrack. Chock-full of thinly veiled jabs at Ja Rule and his label Murder, Inc., “Wanksta” is the latest opus in a complex longtime feud that involves stealing, stabbing, and four stitches. In other words, it’s the perfect song to blare from your shiny black Lexus.
Most of the time, though, 50 Cent is content to blow just himself up—his ego, that is—but the violence that characterized his drug-dealing days in the Jamaica, Queens ghetto is never far beneath the surface of pimps and bitches. Rap would not be rap without puns and guns, and 50 Cent obeys this golden rule. “I aim straight for your head / So don’t push me / Fill your ass up with lead / So don’t push me,” he threatens on “Don’t Push Me,” with Eminem and Lloyd Banks of his posse G Unit backing him up. This is not surprising coming from the guy who recently told Rolling Stone that “I shot people before. But I ain’t gonna tell you who.”
Other notable tracks of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, all of which 50 Cent executes with his smooth baritone drawl, are “Life’s On The Line” and the rapid, chart-climbing party anthem “In Da Club,” the edgy, infectious beats of which could only hail from uber-producer Dre.
“Nobody likes me / But that’s ok / Cuz I don’t like y’all anyway,” 50 Cent sings in “Life’s On The Line,” even though it’s not true. We like 50 Cent, his brashness, his boldness, even the bulletproof vest that has become his trademark fashion accessory. He may not enunciate as well as Em, or rhyme as wittily as Snoop, but for now he’s getting rich, he has two songs in the top 50—and what else matters?
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