Various Artists
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ Original Soundtrack

on 2003’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent became the apocalyptic he-man in rap. He shot through the album’s cover quite literally and (we presume) had his semi-auto stuffed between his diamond-cut lower back muscles and the waistband of his jeans. His Louis Vuitton patterned bandoliers shone on the red background as his sneered at the 11 million people who bought his album.

Clearly, a lot has changed.

He’s got his back to us now, fed up with our mild reception to The Massacre and more than a little aghast at the suddenly huge backlash he’s getting.

But look at the album cover here again. What’s below the handsome baby resting on his shoulder? What’s below the autobiographical body mural?

The gun.

No matter how much he wanted to woo the high-school set with prom jams (“21 Questions”) or get yuppie moms to sing about candy shops, when your best song is about methodically robbing and gunning down the majority of the rap world, violence is the inescapable mistress/meal ticket.

Returning to a modest, anti-cinematic sense of violence is the anchor of the soundtrack to 50 Cent’s film biography. Fifty cobbled together quickly recorded songs from himself and the extended, ever colonizing G-Unit phalanx. Though only the suddenly secular Ma$e and the madness that is Spider Loc get completely lost in the spotlight, everyone else affiliated has the good sense to know who the spotlight should be heating up.

But is it really 50 Cent making the bid for enshrinement? What about Curtis Jackson? Or Marcus, the protagonist from the film Get Rich Or Die Tryin’?

All those personas, among a nice selection of others (50’s family members make shocking appearances as different voices he raps through on “Talk About Me”), become malleable. 50 Cent the artist can’t stay in one place for too long. Maybe he’s starting to see how complex the personality and imagination of gangster rappers has to be. Maybe he’s pulling the wool over our eyes. After the lazy, chubby The Massacre, and a heap of forgettable, factory-second bubble snap club songs, he starts to revisit the old iconography: the dealer, the mark and the cops.

I, for one, completely buy it.

Look at the heavy lifting:

He sings everyone’s hook for them. He lets Young Buck sound like the star we know he’s becoming (“Don’t Need No Help”). He’s wise enough to only give Ma$e one verse and let Lloyd Banks ride a mid-level, forgettable stutter beat (“Get Low”). There’s no denying that except for M.O.P’s chaotic run through the big-budget G-Unit sound lab (“Death Becomes You”), 50 Cent owns this soundtrack. He frontloads and backloads the disc with clusters of songs at each end that harp on his old, too often forgotten charms: the confident mumble, sing-song metronome hooks, and the unabashed confidence that either stems from divine spark or titanic arrogance. 50’s shortcomings are common knowledge, but it’s this sheer force of will that’s kept him around.

The soft spots, not surprisingly, are when the less precocious guys take their shot at the mike. There’s nothing particularly wonderful and monstrous about the album either. No Scott Storch grease or random appearances from Nate Dogg. Everything 50 Cent worked so hard to have at his disposal gets shuffled away for his old habits (read: autumnal samples, quintessentially New York doctored tape hiss).

Going home again doesn’t seem to be the story here. This is a nice crabwalk through nostalgia, and even if 50 Cent never makes his way back to his musical forge, it’s important to know where it was.

Buy it at Insound!

Reviewed by: Evan McGarvey
Reviewed on: 2005-11-15
Comments (6)

Today on Stylus
October 31st, 2007
October 31st, 2007
Recently on Stylus
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Recent Music Reviews
Recent Movie Reviews