I’ve never been a big fan of 50 Cent and I won’t pretend that I am. I’ve heard his early material (including his shelved "debut" album for Columbia Records, Power of the Dollar), some of his mixtapes and even the G-Unit LP, Beg for Mercy. I felt each release varied in quality, but when I came across 50’s sophomore album, The Massacre, I was as surprised as any Rap fan could hope to be.
The Massacre is, indeed, a far cry from 50’s early material and also his official debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Less hardcore and abrasive, but softer and more radio-friendly, it is, ultimately, the equivalent of anything rival Ja Rule would record. It seems money got the best of 50 as he had abandoned his previous persona for that of your rapper everyman; lighting up clubs, loving the shorties and, when tiring of that, maybe a clapping a shot or two. The Massacre was poorly received critically, but sold unsurprisingly well. Hardcore 50 fans hate it, the Rap community hates it, but being the guy I am I couldn’t just rely on word of mouth. In the end, however, it’s the only 50 Cent album that I can truly listen to after one full spin… and it only took 50 selling his soul to accomplish it.
In a surprising first, 50 attempts to cover a wide variety of topics throughout the course of the LP. There are fewer hardcore/gangsta tracks as opposed to Get Rich or Die Tryin’, but, as a result, there is more material closer to what 50 attempted on one of that album’s hit singles, 21 Questions. A select portion of the album is female-friendly, either through club-ready or pseudo-love songs, which is almost enigmatic in and of itself. 50 Cent has always degraded women and when he performs songs such as the very respectful, dare I say beautiful, So Amazing, the end result, though stellar, seems insincere. That doesn’t detract from the overall score of the album, though, but it’s just quite uncharacteristic of 50. Other songs, such as Get in My Car paint women as sex objects, as does lead single Candy Shop. The material may be catchy, but the less violent 50 was certainly a surprise for a lot of fans. 50 also finds time to include some club joints. Outta Control is easily the best, but Disco Inferno doesn’t disappoint, either.
50 will always include songs for the gangstas and, although not as abundant as it was in past releases, 50’s improved lyrics does seem to help matters during these particular moments. The album’s opener, In My Hood, creates perfect atmosphere between the lyrics and beat, while I’m Supposed to Die Tonight is as dark as the songs get here. Its hook is almost reminiscent of 2Pac’s Death Row material, while its grimy lyrics are certainly not a detractor. Ski Mask Way is blessed with similarly gritty lyrics and production that could work miracles.