It seems kind of strange to say that an artist who just sold 600,000 plus records in one week and is worth more money than that Really, Really Old Dude who “allegedly” created the universe billions of years ago (or 5,000 years ago depending on your source) is in serious danger of having his entire career collapse into a gigantic black hole void of Hammerness but 50 Cent’s career might be closer to life support than you would imagine. The results for the election of the “King Of The Hip Hop Universe” is in and as expected by anybody whose been paying attention, Kanye West bitch slapped The Bucktoothed One worse than Stephen slapped Irene on the Real World - 930,251 to 659,682. Normally, only the most stringent of haters (and I’m one of them) could possibly consider 660,000 records sold in one week a flop (and it really isn’t...) but it officially marks the end of the 50 Cent era of hip hop. G-Unit is dead!! Long Live G.O.O.D. Music!! Or something like that...
Last week, I stated that Kanye defeating 50 Cent would mean little to hip hop on a whole because even though Kanye West has the most popular album in the country right now, Soulja Boy still (Inexplicably!!!) has the #1 song in the country and music labels are more interested in pushing ring tones than full albums of quality, alternative music anytime soon. People forget that every few years there comes along another Great Rap Savior that sells a shit load of records of “alternative” “intelligent” rap music. Of course, the rap and mainstream press promptly lose their shit claiming hip hop has officially found its savior and the world will be saved from the likes of Puffy or Master P or whoever and of course, these saviors promptly fall the fuck off and hip hop keeps Diddy Bopping towards its proverbial death. Does anybody remember that Outkast was supposed to save us all after Speakerboxx/The Love Below just like literally four years ago? That motherfucker went diamond! And prior to that, it was Lauryn Hill in 1998? That record won so many Grammy’s that Kanye West is bitching that he’s being short changed! Hip Hop ain’t gonna stop giving us LCD rap anytime soon or at least until nobody buys rap anymore.
Well, fine! Nothing’s gonna change with hip hop now that 50 Cent got molested by Kanye West. So what? What I want to know - what the people want to really know - what does this defeat mean to 50 Cent and what can he do to help salvage a career that is clearly in danger of being Ja Rule’d out of existence. The first thing he can do is completely and utterly scrap the patented G-Unit formula that he’s been using since Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and start making music that doesn’t sound like its terminally trapped in 2003. He’s got to completely throw out all of his ideas of what popular gangsta rap should sound like and take the line back to formula. That means no more bootleg Dr. Dre post-2001 minor key piano beats, no more derivative sex metaphor songs, no more pandering "In Da Club" rip offs, no more cheesed out lover man songs without any actual sense of romance or feeling, and no more goddamn generic, I’m-gonna- kill- you- your- brother- and -your- father- thug anthems! Attention, 50 Cent! I can’t stress this enough! Your formula for writing records is completely broken. If Before I Self-Destruct gets released next year and you have made another GRODT rip off, you can promptly count on 3 people buying your record and then it promptly finding its way into the 99 cent bin in a few months. Do not take the fact that you went gold in a week as an encouraging sign that your formula is still working and the only reason that you didn’t go number one was because Def Jam bought 200,000 copies of your record or some other bullshit. You lost because people are tired of you and the music that you are making. I know it doesn’t seem that way but truuuuust me they are.
Musically, 50 Cent can help salvage his career by taking a lesson from the Jay-Z play book. Before his retirement, Jay-Z was able to maintain and unprecedented stranglehold on hip hop by keeping his ears to the ground and listening for new trends and evolutions in hip hop musically and making records that reflected the changing times which allowed him to make records that never sounded dated. Reasonable Doubt and Kingdom Come sound as different musically and conceptually as you can possibly get in hip hop and Jay-Z has managed to stay near the top of the heap for going on twelve years now because Jay-Z is willing to evolve. Kingdom Come ,maybe in fact, Jay’s worst work but its hard to deny that it was still commercially successful as well as the fact that the direction of the record was still pretty bold compared to other one of his work. Each one of Jay’s record sounds unique compared to his other work and this is part of the reason for his continued success. He always stayed on hip hop’s cutting edge. He worked with Timbaland on Vol. 2 before he was "Timbaland". He worked with The Neptunes on The Dynasty before they were "The Neptunes". He worked with Just Blaze and Kanye West on The Blueprint before they were "Just Blaze" and "Kanye West." Hell, he even worked with 9th Wonder on The Black Album before he was "9th Wonder." 50 Cent’s and by extension G-Unit’s records don’t sound cutting edge and its not a shock that each record has brought back a diminished return to the one previous to that. This might not necessarily be a bad thing if 50 still blazed the booth like he did in his mixtape days but 50 Cent hasn’t had a memorable verse since “Hate Or Love It” and that was on his arch-enemies record two years ago. Nas still manages to go platinum every time out despite the fact that musically he hasn’t had a new idea since Stillmatic (Editor’s Note: I love God’s Son & Hip Hop is Dead but I can call a spade a spade.) but as long as Nasir continues to destroy the mic with verses like his verse on “Black Republicans” he’s gonna have a career. The fact of the matter is that 50 Cent needs to come out with a new idea and fast.
My advice for him would be basically be three fold. First, any inkling that you want to drop your next record in the first quarter of next year has to stop. Before I Self-Destruct has potential to be 50’s equivalent of Nastradamus (which is really saying something considering how bad Nastradamus is). You know left over retreads and bad ideas from I Am... that you throw out in album form to get out of contract. 50 Cent has stated that he wants to get out of his contract with Interscope desperately but if you release a record and its no good that close after you publicly were humiliated, you will be talking with Britney Spears in the no career line faster than you can say “Michael Richards.” My advice might be revolutionary but 50 might want to actually “retire” from making music for awhile and focus on improving the G-Unit brand and his other ventures. Release that M.O.P. record that Jimmy Iovine has locked in the dungeon at the secret quarters of the Illuminati, sign a couple of acts that aren’t clearly half-assed weed carriers or desperate decrepit mid-90s acts, and stop holding the only viable potential star on your label, Young Buck, back for God’s sake! Retirement was a great marketing plan for Hova. It can work for 50!
50 Cent also needs to stop acting like a massive asshole and I can’t stress this one enough. One of his biggest problems that G-Unit has had in recent years is that 50 Cent has been acting like a giant albatross and its his image problem that has been sabotaging the G-Unit brand. Initially, 50 Cent’s Asshole Supreme routine was kind of hilarious and refreshing. Here was a rapper that was willing to take shots at anybody and anything and not back down for political reasons. When he was clowning Ja Rule for making some of the worst hip hop music know to man, 50 Cent was anti-establishment and cool so his unabashed assholity came across as rebellious and funny. Here was the underdog taking down everybody’s least favorite rapper and the people loved him for it. However, when 50 Cent grew to a position of power, the act that won him fans in the first place began to come across as bullying and mean-spirited. There was something unsettling about him on Rap City last week intimidating a clearly star struck seventeen year old, Soulja Boy, as he was interviewing him. He coerced Soulja Boy into doing a half-assed version of his dance in front of 50’s sneering G-Unit cronies and then proceeded to openly mock the dance to the kid’s face. If I were Soulja Boy, who must have been a big fan of 50 Cent growing up and must been excited as balls after scoring a number one hit and getting chance to politic with the world’s biggest rap star, would have left Rap City extremely discouraged and disheartened with the music industry if I was treated like that by one of the biggest stars on Earth. 50 needs to drop that. I know its part of 50’s gimmick to act like an uncaring, soulless super thug but the gimmick is on the verge of wearing completely thin and starting to rub itself raw.
My last piece of advice is to start to make yourself appear human and that means to start slowly shedding the ghetto super villain persona. If there is any reason for the success of Kanye’s music, its that despite his obvious and numerous flaws in character, Kanye seems like a genuine real human being and he is willing to bear himself to public flaw and all. Hip Hop despite ironically being a primarily minority driven art form tends to shun those who don’t adhere to a strict and accepted code of behavior (Also known as the Holy Pursuit Of Money) and anything else is considered “weird” or even “gay.” I mean Kanye West acts and dresses like a spoiled white Williamsburg hipster and this gets him branded as a “homosexual” because its an “other” in terms of the code of hip hop. If he were white and making rock music, nobody within the culture would naturally assume he’s gay. 50 Cent, however, takes the strict code of accepted behavior for being “hip hop” and adheres to it to an almost human degree. He’s almost comically macho to an extreme degree. He doesn’t show emotion, he acts without conscience, he treats women so disposable you might think he was trading baseball cards, its all so grossly cartoonish. He’s not human. It’s also massively boring. I’ve been saying for awhile now to my friends that 50 Cent, the image, as an artist is massively boring. His records are so lifeless and generic that they can’t even be considered wack since they are a complete artistic cipher. Curtis Jackson, the human being, is not boring and is actually quite compelling. His life story is actually quite fascinating if morbid. We all know that he was infamously shot 9 times but also his mother, a closeted lesbian, was murdered by drug dealers when 50 was a young age. He was a soldier for the legendary Supreme Team and knew some of the most notorious criminals of our time. He was able to press on in the face of all these massive and tragic setbacks to become one of the biggest music stars. Now, thats a story! The few glimpses in his music that we actually get to see the real Curtis Jackson have usually been pretty fascinating and triumphant. It seems kind of strange that 50’s mentor is Eminem, one of the most confessional (and successful) artists of all-time. You’d figured a little of that desire to make a few personal records would wash off onto 50. Instead, 50 has washed off onto Eminem and turned Eminem into a self parody. Whatever. Before I Self-Destruct would be thrilling and refreshing if 50 abandoned his old formula and made more records like “Hate It Or Love It” than “Magic Stick” even if 50 still lost a step with his rapping. He might be able to save his career that way.
Ultimately, 50 is probably going to ignore all of the reasons why he failed this week and instead do some bullshit like blame Interscope for failing to properly market the record (which is bullshit when you have five failed singles), claim that Def Jam cheated by inflating Kanye’s numbers, or claim that Kanye makes “safe” music or some shit. It seems he’s been going that route lately but he should be taking time to re-evaluate the way he does things. Personally, it seems to me that 50 seems to be a profoundly unhappy person. 50 acts as if hip hop is a zero sum game where you can only win if everybody else loses. A person who behaves like that isn’t somebody who is well adjusted or happy with their their lot in life which is really tragic. Here’s a man who came from nothing to gain everything but instead of acting like he enjoys what he does for what he does for a living, he seems miserable to me. Whatever, he’s an asshole, anyway.