50 Cent - Curtis

Posted September 9, 2007
Tags: 50 Cent,

It was never about the music. 50 Cent was always bigger than life, an invincible rapper with a...

Curtis Album Review

It was never about the music. 50 Cent was always bigger than life, an invincible rapper with a comic book hero body. The man took nine shots and kept going, he was the Terminator. Every guy with dreams of being a rich rapper or an unstoppable mafia gangster found their god in 50, every girl with a crush for bad boys was left breathless. When 11 million people bought Get Rich or Die Trying (and 80 percent of them were white kids from the suburbs) they were buying a fantasy, the chance to live a life caked in dirt and constant danger. The music was just an extension of 50’s image; if he was a skinny optometrist from Nebraska dropping the exact same tracks he wouldn’t sell 11 albums. So I’m not just reviewing a 50 Cent album, I’m reviewing 50 Cent himself.

If 50 has fallen off it’s because people want to see a crack dealer with a death wish, not a businessman with stock options in Vitamin Water. He’s a victim of his own success, a problem he’s well aware of on his controversial new album Curtis. When Eminem dropped Marshall Mathers he was addressing the divide between his public and private persona, same thing with T.I. vs. T.I.P. If there’s a difference between Curtis Jackson and 50 Cent he doesn’t admit it here. So why’d he name it Curtis? I have no idea; get ready for an album full of loaded guns, money, and more guns.

The day no one’s scared of 50 is the day his career ends. On Curtis he immediately sets out to instill an appropriate sense of fear. My Gun Go Off features a dulled rock guitar beat that whispers menace while he drops verses with his trademark slur. He does manage to rhyme “a** crack” with “nut sack”, but you’re listening for intimidation, not wordplay, and he delivers. By comparison Man Down makes My Gun Go Off sound like the Dora the Explorer theme song. 50 breaks it down as clear as possible; he’s already got three strikes, he’s got everything to lose, and he’ll still murder you. Is he serious? Are you gonna tell him he’s not? Me neither. Fully Loaded Clip is built primarily around disses to Jay, Nas, Jeezy, Fab, Lil Wayne…if he didn’t say your name you’re not big in the game (sorry Hurricane Chris). Tracks like these will have reverends running for their pulpits. Mission accomplished.

Will Curtis go platinum or copper? Based on the response to his singles it could go either way. Straight to the Bank should have been a hit: Dr. Dre inspired beat, 50’s brick hard flow and swagger, get money concept, but his own lyrics may have doomed him. He says, “I ain’t even got to rap now, life is made.” Exactly. You couldn’t look away when he was determined to get rich or die trying, now that he’s wealthy and alive the excitement’s gone. I Get Money’s the best beat on the album, but he slows the momentum with a Vitamin Water intro. Still, his bluntly accented flow’s better than the backpackers will ever admit. Ayo Technology puts 50 in the awkward position of needing Justin Timberlake to deliver a hit (I can’t believe I just wrote that) but damnit if it doesn’t work. The allegedly-stolen Timbaland production is undeniably catchy, 50 times his flow perfectly, and JT does his white-boy best. It’s not In Da Club, but it’s a hit. Good enough, 50 will take it.

I love you like a fat kid loves cake” is an all-time great line, but it’s been downhill from there for 50 when it comes songs for the ladies. Not only is Amusement Park a homeless man’s version of Magic Stick, he couldn’t even lip-synch it correctly at the BET Awards. Fiddy tries his luck again with Nicole Scherzinger (she’s the only Pussycat Doll you can name) and Young Buck on Fire, but the results are only barely better. And don’t get me started on Follow My Lead featuring Robin Thicke. Robin F**kin Thicke!? What, was Jessica Simpson busy? Thank god for Mary J. Blige, who turns All of Me into an absolutely great track. Mary’s unbelievable vocals aside, these made-for-MTV songs threaten to derail an otherwise lethal album. No matter, Curtis’ success doesn’t depend on hot videos or Kanye’s position on the charts, it depends on one question; do you still believe 50 is the hardest rapper in hip-hop? Well, do you?

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted September 9, 2007
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