50 Cent is the Britney Spears of hip-hop - at this point, it’s barely about the music. First and foremost, Curtis James Jackson is a business, an almost absurdly profitable corporate empire that spans a record label, a clothing line and more investments than Warren Buffet. Second, 50 is an icon, a muscle-bound and bulletproof-vested symbol of rap’s most masculine roots (a symbol that also sells a s**t ton of Vitamin Water and video games). Third, 50 Cent is a rapper-killer, the undisputed heavyweight champ of the beef game, although his demolition of Rick Ross …
DJBooth Album Review
Forget Eminem, forget Kanye, 50 is easily the most polarizing rapper alive. He’s a lightning rod of controversy that inspires either fanatical devotion or unyielding hatred, and the reaction to his new mixtape/LP War Angel won’t be any different. War Angel is reportedly the first of three LPs scheduled to drop before his upcoming opus Before I Self Destruct, a tightly packaged album that should make hardcore fans very happy, and haters froth at the mouth. In fact, I’m going to take a cue from Mr. Jackson himself and embrace the controversy head-on: behold, a fully customized review! Just figure out where you fit in, and start reading. Of course, if you’re one of the select few who can think intelligently and objectively about Fiddy, feel free to read the whole thing. Enjoy.
For the G-Unit Army
Hip-hop has taken a heavily militarized turn in the last decade, and 50 Cent has been its unquestioned general. With a rhyme style that bleeds intimidation and violence, 50 is, to put it bluntly, the rapper you’d least want to f**k with. Let’s start with RedRum (Murder), a track that proves 50 still goes for the jugular at every opportunity, and has watched The Shining. With a surprisingly soulful beat and 50 dropping lines like mortar shells, RedRum takes no prisoners. Much of War Angel follows in Red Rum’s heavyset footsteps, must notably the pounding OK, Alright. Featuring one of the album’s best beats and 50 spitting in his trademark “so relaxed I sound dangerous” rhyme style, OK hits and hits hard. Even better is C.R.E.A.M. 2009, a track I dig not because it’s as good as the original (what could be?), but because it reveals 50’s East Coast streets roots, roots that are now often hidden behind a fleet of private jets. Ultimately, 50 deserve credit. He could have put out almost anything and fans would have rushed to download it, but instead he chose to fill War Angel with legitimately quality material. A good businessman never puts out a bad product.
For the Haters
A much as anything, War Angel is a continuation of 50 Cent’s pronounced ladies’ jam slump. Not only has 50 not had a hit for the females since Magic Stick, he suddenly seems incapable of making even non-terrible tracks. London Girl, a quasi-remake of Estelle’s American Boy, might be the most unintentionally hilarious track in Fiddy history. First, picture 50 singing softly. Now picture 50 speaking in a bad English accent. Now combine the two. Yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds. If an unsigned artist walked into a record label with London Girl, they’d be laughed out of the room. The fact that I’ll Do Anything is substantially better isn’t saying much - actually, I can make this real short: stop singing hooks on romantic songs 50. Just stop. Go get Lyfe Jennings. Go get Trey Songz. Hell, even a John Legend hook might work. You’ve got one of the best thug voices in the game, using it to croon works about as well as Robin Thicke singing about dealing cocaine. Wait…that actually happened. Inexplicably the album’s only guest feature is Thicke’s mediocre hook on Cocaine, a track that’s all downhill after the classic “I can’t feel my face” quote in the intro. There you go haters. I’ve given you plenty of ammo. Fire away.
As always, the truth lays somewhere in the middle. If you’re a 50 Cent soldier you absolutely must download War Angel. If you’re not, don’t bother. And if you’re neither...um...flip a coin. I know that’s not the answer that’s going to get me a job at G-Unit, or shot by G-Unit, but it’s the truth. What can I say, even though it might do wonders for my career, I’d rather not get shot in the face nine times.
Click here to download War Angel.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/16/09
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"You Don't Know ft. 50 Cent, Ca$his & Lloyd Banks" (2006)
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