Archive for the ‘50 cent’ Category

50 Cent – Curtis (2007)

September 26, 2007

Released with a fanfare of hype and carefully-constructed controversy, 50 Cent’s newest album Curtis is his most insecure album to date. The macho bravado displayed in hip hop has long since been psychoanalyzed as an overcompensation for insecurities resulting from a number of sources (broken homes, impoverished upbringing, lack of male role models, etc.), but 50’s newest release takes these insecurities to a new and structural level. Ironically, the insecurities present themselves in the exact album where humility and intimacy is promised. When an artist lets down this extra defense and names an album (for instance) after their real name, it is assumed that the tracks to follow will allow a newer and deeper insight into the artist than all previous works. This is especially important in a genre like rap, where personal testimonies/narratives construct at least half of all recorded material. It is for this reason that Curtis fails; it promises new depths and delivers with puddle shallowness.

By comparison, Nas’ 2004 album God’s Son (published under his given name, Nasir Jones) is the epitome of this sort of musical intimacy. Recorded shortly after his mother’s death, and including musical accompaniment by his father – an accomplished jazz musician – Nas demonstrates how to get personal in music without losing that rough, masculine edge presupposed by the genre.

Ultimately, it isn’t that the tracks on the album are not still biographical or, at least, semi-biographical, but that 50 includes eight tracks with featured guests — many superstars in the genre (i.e. Eminem, Dr. Dre and Mary J. Blige) — and then does not permit them the room to exercise their talent in any meaningful way. Most alarming is Dr. Dre being reduced to a glorified back-up singer in “Come & Go.” When an artist recruits talent but does not let them be talented, it is only reasonable to question their motives.

Worth listening to (if you haven’t already tired of it on the radio) is “Ayo Technology,” featuring Justin Timberlake and produced by Timbaland, It includes a techno background that is almost a cliché sound for Timberlake/Timbaland songs. It is also enjoyable hearing Robin Thicke rise above the structures 50 placed in his album to keep guest artists down and crone beautifully in a harsh juxtaposition to 50 Cent in “Follow My Lead.”

It doesn’t matter if 50 Cent outsold Kanye West or not; he did not first live up to the implicit promises he made his audience.

–Jeff Schooley

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