50 Cent: Curtis

Even though he might not admit it publicly, 50 Cent is looking at some serious pressure coming into Curtis (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope). His debut, Get Rich Or Die Trying, killed everything moving in 2003. As a follow up his soldiers would put up respectable numbers individually going into the G-Unit general’s follow up, The Massacre. Fast forwarding to only a year ago, the immense leverage has been severely handicapped. Along with Mobb Deep, Banks and Young Buck would all sell below gold and a couple of the members of the crew got sent packing. Now with his momentum slowing down Fif attempts to extend the championship run.In traditional fashion 50 starts off ready to hurt something. “My Gun” is a dark look into his innate “have gat will travel” mentality. Resembling what Em’ did on “Gatman And Robin,” the speedy synth grooves compliment the tough talk nicely. “Man Down” slows down the pace a bit as Ferrari flows over some chunky pianos. His stick up kid wit is still very much apparent with lines like “Southside, I make the best of the worst/We got to share the same b*tch, okay I go first.” As far as stand out joints go, “I Get Money” is Curtis at his best. A monster record for the clubs, newcomer Apex borrows some classic lines from Audio Two’s “Top Billin’” and blaring boom baps familiar to Cassidy’s “I’m A Hustla.”The mood is switched up on “Follow My Lead.” Produced by The Bizness, 50 does his thing with Robin Thicke on the back up vocal help out. The track has a jazzy feel with its accompanying dusty keys. Jackson raps to ladies with suave lines that will make them forget about that suspect GQ cover. As far as key collaborations 50 and Mary J. make a stellar team on “All Of Me.” Blige sets the tone off properly with her golden vocals over crisp drums and chopped up horns. In vintage Fif fashion, he mixes in his Queens bravado with some Hollywood charm and wins: “When I smile your smile should be as big as mine/To know me is to love me I’m one of a kind/Even when you hate me you love me, forever you’re mine.”Unfortunately the album doesn’t progress further than that. Curtis goes hard on the hoes on “Come And Go” but doesn’t connect in part to a lackadaisical beat. Also, 50 sounds flat when he steps out his comfort zone. “Ayo Technology” features a Timbaland masterpiece but even with Justin Timberlake helping out, it still sounds incredibly forced. Same deal when he aims for a more pop crowd on the Dr. Dre helmed “Fire” with Nicole of the Pussycat Dolls. At the end of the day, Curtis is a step backwards for 50. While the album is not a total brick, it lacks a true consistency where his previous work flowed seamlessly and almost every record worked. Even his harder records “Straight To The Bank” and “Touch The Sky” fail to make a considerable impact. Clearly 50 still has the talent to recreate the magic, but he won’t wow many but the most diehard of fans here. But then again, there is always Vitamin Water.SOUNDCHECK:50 Cent "My Gun"50 Cent f/ Young Buck & Nicole Scherzinger "Fire"