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This weeks classic album review is on 50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and was written by HipHopSite.Com’s DJ Pizzo on Feb. 16th, 2003. (Original Post)

50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ – 4.5/5

By DJ Pizzo

Just about two years ago, I was sitting in a steakhouse at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel having dinner with Eminem and the entire Shady Records entourage when the subject of 50 Cent had come up. I had just finished dissing 50 in our year end wrap up and decided for once to shut the fuck up, hold back my opinion, and listen as one of Eminem’s crew said “Yo, you heard 50 Cent? He’s incredible”, which was shortly followed by half the table singing the lyrics to “Ya Life’s On The Line”. Although I disagreed, it was the first time I had heard people bugging over him, especially since his Power Of The Dollar debut got dissed by critics (HipHopSite included), and shortened to EP length by the time it dropped. Fast-forward to 2003. 50 Cent is the hottest rapper in the streets – did I miss something?

Mirroring when 2Pac was shot, walked out of the hospital, and signed the dotted line for Death Row, 50 gets back on his feet after being dissed, dropped, stabbed, and shot up, signing with Em and Dr. Dre’s respective Shady / AfterMath labels. After dropping a slew of street mix CD’s, which began with the almost gold Guess Who’s Back (which initially got Em’s attention), 50 Cent delivers his official debut, Get Rich Or Die Trying. Almost going platinum in one week of release, the buzz on 50 is pretty strong, thanks to the already classic singles “Wanksta” and “In Da Club”, not to mention the stamp of approval from the greatest rapper and greatest producer of all time (yeah, I said it).

However, while Mister Cee may be calling 50 the hottest emcee since the Notorious B.I.G. (which as bold a claim as the one I just made about Em), this writer has yet to see what everyone is losing their loads over. 50′s debut has its moments, and as an emcee, 50 is somewhat compelling, but will this change the face of rap music? More importantly, what is it that people love about 50 Cent?

Well, like Eminem, 50 Cent is a not only a survivor of the struggle, but one who has violently defeated it. “How To Rob” didn’t make him any friends, resulting in his being dissed by Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Big Pun, Ghostface Killah, and others, not to mention a few attempts on his life, which he seemingly effortlessly shrugged off. Secondly, 50 Cent is not only a gangster rapper, but he is Super Gangster Rapper. If there is man vs. Superman, just look at 50 – he’s built like the D.C. Comics mascot, walks around with an “S” on his chest, and as he says on “If I Can’t”, “I’m feeling mighty bulletproof right now.” And for some reason you believe him.

But how does it carry over to the music? People will love this album, primarily because there is no escaping it, and it will eventually be burned into hip-hop’s collective consciousness much like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic or 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me have. First and foremost, it’s somewhat misleading, as it is an incredible departure from anything the average Eminem fan would enjoy. It’s a dark, brooding, thugged-out album with so much gunshots, bullets, and death, you’ll need a bulletproof vest just to listen to it, yet the hint of wit found on albums by Em, M.O.P., or the M.O.B.B. is not really here.

But in all of its darkness, 50 captures the evening sound perfectly delivering some future gangster rap classics. “Many Men” is a gloomy, soulful track where 50 recounts the legions of haters who wish death on him, propelled by his addictive hook. “Patiently Waiting” strikes a similar chord, and is taken to the next level by Eminem who comes in at the hook to the beat of a life-support system. Meanwhile, the Dr. Dre produced “Back Down” is a scathing, condescending dis to Ja Rule, reminiscent of classic disses like “Fuck With Dre Day”. “High All The Time” fits within this same mold, a fitting soundtrack to a blunted evening drive through the nighttime city.

But outside of the darkness, 50 has his murder anthems, such as “Heat” or “If I Can’t”, both propelled by wonderful Dre beats, but the subject matter doesn’t extended past blowing someone’s brain out. And while both “P.I.M.P” and “Blood Hound” come off incredibly shallow (the kids’ll love it though), he gives himself someone more dimension on the braggadocio filled “Like My Style” thanks to Rockwilder’s ridiculous production, or the somewhat out-of-character “21 Questions”, which is sure to have the ladies melting over Nate Dogg’s thoughtful hook and 50′s sensitive thuggery.

But after nineteen tracks of arrogant tech-toting invincibility and G-Unit mating calls, what’s the big hullabaloo over 50? All he wanted was the public to love him like they did ‘Pac. Congratulations Fif, they do. – DJ Pizzo



Drew Pierce

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