50 Cent


(Aftermath; 2005)

By Clayton Purdom | 23 February 2005

I never liked you, Fiddy. I was ready to—the shitstorm of hype, the teaming with Em while he was still (sort of) on top of his game, the instant classic back story…I was nearly convinced. But then you came with “Wanksta,” a feeble attempt at new slang backed by an obnoxious (at best) beat. I sighed and filed you next to Canibus.

I wanted to like you again when “In Da Club” came out, Fiddy, I really did. That track stands tall as one of the best pop singles of the millennium so far, but many of us realized pretty quickly that it was Dre’s accomplishment, handed off to an unworthy protégé. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ only served as confirmation for that fact: despite a couple of hot tracks (“Many Men”; “21 Questions”) it was a largely anonymous debut. Where was the charisma? What were people getting so excited about? Why weren’t you any good?

The Massacre is no help, but I’m sure plenty of people will love it regardless. What it sounds like? Everybody probably already knows: hyper-produced, crisp drums, vaguely spooky strings, the occasional steel drum or spare electric guitar for color. Speaking of the burgeoning Shady/Aftermath “sound,” let’s get this out of the way right now: Eminem is the worst producer in the history of mainstream hip-hop: a talentless hack, bereft of ideas, who is actively stalling the art. The two of you share considerable mic chemistry, like on “Many Men” or on Massacre’s “Gatman and Robin,” but both of these tracks are marred by Em’s silly attempts at production. Next time he invites you over, do us all a favor and take an axe to his ProTools.

Your flow is still a slurred wonder, though, and when you let it compliment a good beat, it’s thrilling. Opener “In My Hood” is a prime example; it sets The Massacre off on a subdued, jazzy note, particularly when you shut up and let the sax walk off with the song—it’s the best cameo on the album. “Ryder Music” is a sleepy, shimmering old-school jam, and producer Hi-Tek uses cooing synths like Motown used flutes.

But your rhymes are as stupid as ever, Fiddy. The cringe-worthy “Piggy Bank” should be canonized for its unintentionally hilarious hook, but the verses reach an entirely different level of absurdity. You are not allowed to talk shit about Nasty Nas, Fiddy. Not now, not ever. Hov could, but that wasn’t until he had already put out five chart-topping, intermittently brilliant albums. But Get Rich ain’t Reasonable Doubt_—even you know that. So let’s shut the fuck up and quit trying to create a nonexistent beef, why don’t we? Yeah, you got famous by talking shit, but at some point you need to make an album that justifies the braggadocio; when _The Massacre shares samples with Biggy and Ghostface, it only illustrates how much better they rocked those tracks than you. Shit, even your Coldplay rip had me longing for the source material.

Fortunately, you had the good sense to close the album with a remix of “Hate It or Love It”: a thick, old soul club jam that mines a surprisingly nuanced lyrical vein, simultaneously addressing, dismissing and furthering all the goofy beef talk on the 75 minutes preceding it. One of the best pop singles of 2005 so far, it was already featured on The Game’s infinitely superior debut, but who cares; at this point, the (very) scattershot quality of G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath albums necessitates a certain amount of interchangeability. Amid chimes, claps, horns, soul wails and everything else that makes a good track, the Unit chants, “I ain’t goin’ nowhere, so you can get to know me.”

Fine. Then I guess I’ll just have to sigh and file you next to DMX.