Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Artist: 50 CentTitle: Get Rich or Die Tryin’Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: aqua boogieDespite the small change name, the good Dr. Dre and Eminem saw large capital gains in their futures when they signed controversial Queens, New York rapper 50 Cent to their Shady and Aftermath Records imprints. Coming with more beef than your cities meatpacking district, the conflicted rapper’s ‘debut’ release Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a journey through street tales, gun clapping and all the gratuitous sex and comedic shenanigans that come in between.

From his debut single “How to Rob,” to the mix-tapes he littered the streets with, to his latest opus, 50 Cent’s blistering rhymes have always been buttressed by impeccable beats. Dr. Dre pulls out all the stops and blesses his latest prodigy with addictive, steady keys on the Ja Rule & Company skewering “Back Down” and the braggadocios “If I Can’t” as well as muffled drums on scorcher “In the Club”. But having a few Dre joints does not make an album. He receives gems from other reliable sources including Rockwilder who literally supplies the usual bells and whistles on future club anthem “Like My Style” and Reef Tewlow who brings bare bone drums on the chest pounder, “What Up Gangsta”.

Rhyme wise, 50 wears his emotions on his sleeves. From the misogyny of “P.I.M.P,” to the skewering he gives Ja Rule & Company on “Back Down” to contemplating why drama is his shadow on “Many Men,” no topic is off limits. He even goes so far as to-dare I say-show his soft side on “21 Questions” a gentle interrogation in rhyme intended for the ladies where he asks couplets like, “We only rumors girls we make mistakes, to make it up I do whatever it take, I love you like a fat kid love cake, you know my style, I’ll say anything to make you smile…” But thankfully he spares us by not getting too sappy and leaving the crooning on the hook to Nate Dogg.

Truth be told, 50 Cent is not the one of rap’s elite emcees when it comes to lyrical skill. But, his ability to write catchy hooks and deliver wasp-like, stinging punch lines carries him when complex lyricism is absent. The gift of being able to please such a diverse range of ears, from street corner commandos to white girls fighting to stay on beat, is a rare one and 50 has been blessed with it. If you don’t believe the latter, see what happens when “In the Club” explodes from the speakers at your local White Anglo Saxon Protestant hang out.

The streets done raised 50 and his album is an ode to the work he’s put in on them. Does he deliver an album on par with the deafening buzz of its impending release? Of course not-yes he took nine bullets and lived but he isn’t Superman. “Blood Hound” could have been put together better and “High All the Time” isn’t the most creative of songs. But overall, he delivers the same energy that he packed into the music he flooded the streets with, so what more can you ask for? In drugs terms Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is like weed, a gateway drug that may lead to stronger substances after prolonged use or in 50’s case, heavy rotation in your stereo and even higher expectations from future releases.

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