Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Gut Reaction Review: 50 Cent - Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

For those that know me, it’s no secret: I am NOT a big fan of 50 Cent. In my opinion, his lyrical ability and technical prowess leave much to be desired. That’s not to say that he’s completely talentless though. In 1999, he showed some real promise and ruffled up quite a few rap feathers when he dropped the track “How To Rob”. To his credit, Fiddy also has a good ear for beats, and has been known to craft a catchy hook or two. Anyway, as the story goes, Curtis James Jackson The Third (as his grandmother liked to call him) eventually caught the attention of Eminem and Dr. Dre, and the rest is history. In 2003, he dropped the "classic" album Get Rich Or Die Tryin' to great critical and commercial success, and it's really been downhill ever since. But now it's time to return to that "classic" album and see what all the fuss was about. You see, I've never really listened to that album from start to finish before, so I think it's about time I gave Get Rich Or Die Tryin' a chance, and find out whether I've been unfairly harsh on the man for all these years (I doubt it). So without further adieu, here is my track-by-track gut reaction review of 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin'.

1. Intro
Absolutely pointless. Well at least it's only 6 seconds long.

2. What Up Gangsta
Nothing special here. Reef's instrumental wants to be a banger, but instead, it comes off as overly repetitive and kinda boring. Also, Fiddy is saying a whole lot of nothing on this track. Next!

3. Patiently Waiting (feat. Eminem)
"When I die, they'll read this and say a genius wrote it". No they won't Fiddy. Curtis Jackon's delivery on this track really bores me, as does Eminem's beat, but he's never been the greatest producer anyway. Shady also brings his Eminem Show flow, which is not my favourite phase of Eminem's career. However, Em's verse is still dope, and makes the song worth listening to. "Take some Big and some Pac, and you mix 'em up in a pot. Sprinkle a little Big L on top, what the fuck do you got?" You got the greatest rapper of all time! Yeah, I said it! Anyway, "Patiently Waiting" turns out to be a decent track, thanks to Eminem's song-stealing verse. Moving on ....

4. Many Men (Wish Death)
"I'm the greatest. Something like Ali in his prime". Once again Fiddy, no you're not. However, I think this track actually works. The instrumental grooves along quite nicely, which is surprising with Eminem having had a hand in it, although Darrell "Digga" Branch is credited as the primary producer on the track. Fiddy's hook writing ability comes through on this track too, and he flows quite smoothly over the beat. Not bad Fiddy. Not GREAT, but not bad.

5. In Da Club
An undeniable classic. ALL credit is due to Dr. Dre for this one. The production is monstrous. Fiddy's verses are mediocre at best on here, but like I mentioned previously, his hook writing ability is his saving grace. Also, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that is unfamiliar with the opening lyrics "Go shorty, it's your birthday". Overall, a great track.

6. High All The Time
Largely forgettable. This is the type of song I would classify as a "skip-aroo", especially when it's in the unfortunate position of being sandwiched between two great tracks ..... wait, does that mean there's another great track on this album?

7. Heat
Once again, Dr. Dre brings the heat (pun intended). Another bangin' production, and this time I actually enjoyed Fiddy's performance, as opposed to the nonsense he was spouting on "In Da Club". I could have done without the 30 second intro that really added NOTHING to the proceedings, but on the whole, I was very impressed with this one.

8. If I Can't
Once a-motherfuckin'-gain, Dr. Dre blesses 50 Cent with a banger! It's a shame then, that Curtis uses this valuable opportunity to say absolutely nothing of worth. Just sit back and enjoy the beat, because you'll be getting nothing of substance from Fiddy. Having said that, I still find this track to be rather enjoyable.

9. Blood Hound (feat. Young Buck)
What the fuck is this? You can't go from bangin' Dr. Dre production to whatever the hell this is. I guess there is a bright side though ..... I actually enjoy Fiddy's flow on this track! Buck's verse is nicely executed as well. Surprisingly, the HOOK is where this song really falls apart, so much so that I'd like nothing more than to forget I ever listened to this shit. Next!

10. Back Down
Ooooh, this beat is so menacing ..... in the best possible way! No wonder Ja Rule doesn't have a career anymore. You can't win against music that sounds this good. It's disappointing to see that this is Dre's final contribution to the album. He's 4 for 4. Let's see how Fiddy fares without him.

11. P.I.M.P.
Talk about a catchy hook! And I don't know who this Brandon Parrott fella is, but this production is on point. Fiddy is back on his bullshit again though, but I'll give him a pass this time, because this song is enjoyable as fuck!

12. Like My Style (feat. Tony Yayo)
The more I listened to this track, the more Rockwilder's beat really grew on me. Also, I think I just realized why Fiddy recruited Tony Yayo to G-Unit. There has to be at least ONE rapper in the group that is worse than 50 Cent. Tony Yayo delivers a truly terrible performance on this track. Curtis fairs a little better, but the hook isn't really doing anything for me. Despite Yayo's contribution, this track was still pleasant enough.

13. Poor Lil Rich
No, no, no.

14. 21 Questions
This track is good for what it is. There's nothing quite like a crooning Nate Dogg on the hook when you're making a song for the ladies. And no Fiddy, if you used your tongue in bed, I wouldn't like that!

15. Don't Push Me (feat. Lloyd Banks & Eminem)
Another Eminem production on Get Rich Or Die Tryin', and I'm just as unimpressed as I was on "Patiently Waiting". However, the difference on this track is that Eminem seems uninspired behind the microphone as well. Subpar performances all around. Looks like we found ourselves another "skip-aroo"!

16. Gotta Make It To Heaven
This track is the definition of "average". The instrumental is nothing special, Fiddy is nothing special, this song is nothing special. Overall, nothing special. Did I forget to mention that this track is nothing special? Next!

17. Wanksta
Uh oh, Fiddy is on a roll now. Skip-skip-skip-aroo!!!

18. U Not Like Me
OK Fiddy, you've officially lost me now. Dr. Dre, where are you!? Come back please. Curtis clearly needs you.

19. Life's on the Line
This track is alright, even if the hook is atrocious. But it's too little, too late.

Final Verdict:
This album wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It certainly had it's high points, mainly thanks to Dr. Dre, but it also had it's low points, which came thick and fast towards the end. My opinion regarding 50 Cent's talent as a rapper remains unchanged after listening to this album in it's entirety. The rappers that I enjoy listening to tend to offer me a little bit more than a catchy hook and a decent flow every once in a while. However, I can see why this album is considered a modern-day classic by some ..... just not by me.

(This track-by-track review was inspired by the work of Max over at Hip Hop Isn't Dead)

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