For the first time in over 10 years, 50 Cent returned to Hot 97 on Tuesday, sitting down with Ebro in The Morning to talk about his foray into television, JAY-Z's 4:44 album and the death of New York hip-hop, among other topics.
Throughout the 40-plus minute interview, 50 delivered a handful of headline-worthy remarks and hot takes, most notably criticizing Jay's decision to throw a shot at Future ("In the future, other niggas playin' football with your son/You had lost it, 13 bottles of Ace of Spade what it did to Boston") on "Kill Jay Z," but the most interesting commentary occurred when 50 Cent and Ebro discussed how to gauge a hit record in 2017, which ultimately led 50 to conclude that the reason Jay's latest LP had a short shelf life on the charts is because it was too mature for hip-hop's youth-driven culture.
"What Jay was doing on the record, there was more maturity than the actual music," 50 said. "He can take that out. Because it's youth culture. Hip-hop is youth-driven. Right? And as far as the lyrics are concerned in the actual record, this is why I'm listening to it, because you can listen to Jay records for fucking Lord knows how long and pick up new stuff that he did.
"Traditionally, it would have came in and been a quality piece of work. What it is right now for the audience, the kids that are out, actively involved in the culture, driving what is hot and what is not, you see how that went quiet quick? It had the best marketing campaign. He had 4:44 all over the place, but who you hear playing it?"
50 is right in that hip-hop is and always has been driven by the youth, both in terms of creation and consumption. Just look at the 15 most popular artists on the planet last week—Gucci Mane is the oldest name on the list at 37 and he's been playing catch-up after several years behind bars.
However, Jay's decision to exclusively release 4:44 on TIDAL—which despite making perfect sense from a marketing standpoint stunted his overall numbers—and his continued reluctance to make the album available on Spotify have impacted the album's continued popularity far greater than Jay's decision to craft a mature, grown album about his adult life as Shawn Carter.
Younger artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole have both found tremendous success by releasing mature albums with little to no "mainstream"-appealing records meant for radio. The youth still gravitates to their work, though, because the music has been that good.
While 50's message isn't completely off base, I'm not sure he's the best messenger in this instance. Though a legend now and forever more in hip-hop, 50 has a grand total of one top 30 record since 2012 ("My Life") and it's been a decade since his last top 10 record ("Ayo Technology").