Artist: 50 Cent
Comments: At this point, enough has been said about the Kanye vs 50 Cent build-up that I don’t need to go over it here. In the weeks leading up to the Sept. 11 release date for the two records, 50 Cent went on a PR blitz, appearing in magazines and newspapers across the country promoting his album, his retirement gamble, and himself. In each publication, 50’s confidence was the main element, present in every interview. After listening to Curtis, one can see why 50 Cent was so confident, even if that confidence is somewhat unfounded at times.
Curtis is a step forward from 50’s uneven and disappointing sophomore record The Massacre in almost all respects. With no skits or pauses in music except for a brief introduction, 50 Cent is all business. While his professionalism in his music might be a detractor for some, 50 sounds best when he is focused and on topic and he is most certainly focused on his third record.
The album opens with “My Gun go Off,” a crunchy number that has 50 coming out of the gate fast and hard. With a faux southern drawl and frantic pace, “My Gun go Off” is a return to form for 50, who sounds more serious than he has since Get Rich or Die Tryin’. When he makes threats and boats on the track, one is inclined to believe him. It sounds like he cares about rap again. That song gives way to the more relaxed but no less threatening “Man Down.” The two violent songs form an excellent one-two punch that show 50 in some of his most aggressive light. This isn’t the CEO, this is the hungry mix-tape all star making real threats.
As usual, 50’s record is ripe with guest contributors, however 50 outshines most of them. Akon contributes his first big flop on “I’ll Still Kill” with 50’s delivery outshining Akon’s unique voice as the defining characteristic of the song. Eminem adds a verse on “Peep Show” that sounds more obligatory than enthusiastic. Tony Yayo helps out on “Touch The Sky,” but that guy has always sucked. The success of this record is all on 50.
Sadly, all the fault lies with him too. Outside of those first two tracks, the rest of the album is somewhat flaccid. Tracks come and go with no standouts to the point that it all starts to run together in one big, boastful statement. 50 wastes the excellent production of “Ayo Technology” by laying down some lazy sex talk that wouldn’t excite a nymphomaniac. “Amusement Park” continues 50’s trend of referring to his body as some kind of playground for women, and is his worst attempt at a club song yet. “Follow my Lead” is lounge schmaltz and “All of Me” shoots for R&B crossover but is wrecked by an uninspired Mary J. Blige singing the hook.
Sadly, Curtis features the worst 50 Cent song yet, the profoundly unfortunate “Straight to the Bank.” Lazy delivery, third tier production, and an awful hook (50 Cent laughing, presumably all the way to the bank) make this song a total flop.
It’s always more interesting to hear about someone struggling to make it than hearing them boast about arriving. That might be the one fatal flaw in Curtis. Having spent so much time trying to make money and trying to find success, now that he has it there is nothing else for him to talk about. As a result, 50 falls back on telling the same stories over again. Thanks to some good production and different delivery, 50 is able to hold on for one more record. But he’s holding on by his fingertips.
Key Tracks: My Gun Go Off, Man Down, Touch the Sky
Worth the Money: Buy the first two songs of the net, then forget it.