Let’s be real for a second, you’ve heard this album before. You’ve not only heard this record from 50 Cent twice before but you’ve heard this album in some form or another on countless other rapper’s albums as well. 50 Cent has cobbled seventeen facsimiles of his own and other rapper’s most popular songs called it, Curtis, and then called it a day. I can’t imagine there was much more thought process that went into the “creative” aspect of this album than that. For Curtis Jackson, the most important part of releasing an album is the marketing. This is where he gets creative. Whether, it’s sneak dissing Kanye West on the radio, questioning Lil’ Wayne’s sexuality, getting his album pushed back because lack of buzz for his singles or throwing a fit in the Interscope office, the promotion for Curtis has been a rough and difficult ride for Mr. Jackson...and it should be because Curtis isn’t particularly good.
Let’s take a look at 50 Cen’t Official Checklist for his new album, shall we:
1. Generic Thug Anthems? Check. (My Gun Go Off, Man Down, Curtis 187, etc., etc., etc.)
2. Bad Sex Metaphor Song? Check. (Amusement Park)
3. Horrendous Song Produced By Emimem? Check. (Peep Show)
4. Dr. Dre Produced In Da Club rip off? Check. (Come And Go, Fire, etc.)
5. Song Insulting Other More Talented Rappers? Check. (Fully Loaded Clip)
6. Cheesy Love Songs Featuring R&B Singers? Check. (All Of Me, Ayo Technology, Follow My Lead)
7. Songs About How Much Money He’s Got? Check. (I Get Money, Straight To The Bank)
8. Song With Akon? Check. (I’ll Still Kill)
Does this look familiar to you? Of course, it has; you heard this album before several times. Both from 50 himself, his loyal G-Unit weed carriers, and from countless other rappers.
The album isn’t completely unlistenable. Other than “Amusement Park”, there really isn’t anything out and out awful. The songs are just way too generic to have any personality so the album is like listening to 50 minutes of elevator music if only the elevator made death threats every 2.5 seconds or so. Even so, “I Get Money” remains the best thing to come from 50 Cent in years and “Ayo Technology” is pretty good for what it is as well. Problem is I have heard these songs as well. “I Get Money” is of course a mash-up of Cassidy’s “I’m A Hustla” and Audio Two’s classic “Top Billin’.” “Ayo Technology”, the other half decent song on the album, plays more like a Justin Timberlake song than a 50 Cent one. In fact, it’s basically just “My Love” with 50 Cent replacing T.I. I’m not hating.
Since 50 Cent’s basically made the same album as he’s done before the only thing left to wonder is have his fans grown too old for his schtick. 50’s been selling his Ghetto Super Villain schtick for going on 4 years now and the 15 year olds who were his biggest fans back then are now in college and probably have been exposed to a wider array of music than they were when they were teenagers. 50’s banking that it was his formula that sold all those records and not his persona so he’s basically stuck to the plans for his former albums. The world will find out on September 11th if the King of New York is gonna fall.
I kind of wonder what this record would've sounded like if it stuck with the original title, "Before I Self Destruct." That record sounded like something I might want to hear from Mr. Jackson. On the rare occasions that 50 decides to get personal, the results are usually pretty great. 50 Cent's verse on "Hate It Or Love It" remains the best verse he's spit since he's gotten famous and "Ghetto Qua'ran" also known as "The Song That Got 50 Shot" is probably the best song that he's ever done and that describes the real life drug world that surrounded him growing up. He's certainly proven capable in the past of being a thoughtful artist but instead he's chosen to be thoroughly mediocre. In the end, I suppose this album is a bit better than The Massacre since it doesn't have quite as many truly awful songs on this record and not as good as Get Rich Or Die Tryin' because there isn't anything nearly as good as "Heat", or "In Da Club" or even "21 Questions." But I suppose that doesn't really matter to Curtis Jackson? He's more interested in making money. Question is? Will the old formula still sell?