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Curtis Goes for 50 Cents on the Dollar

Corbin Hicks | Wednesday, September 19, 2007

50 Cent is the epitome of what is wrong with rap music today, but we still love him anyway.

Through the years, the art form known as rap has gone through multiple phases, and different people have been considered the top dog in the game. From Run DMC to Sugar Hill Gang, Rakim, KRS-One and even the Wu-Tang Clan, there have been various rap acts which define rap music at the time of their reign. Even politically conscious groups such as Public Enemy and Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five have time-stamped their names on the history of hip hop. However, no one has done as much good – or as much bad – for rap music as 50 Cent.

When he first burst onto the scene four years ago, it was obvious the next hip-hop superstar had arrived on the scene. From 50’s swagger to the “bulletproof” background story he shoved down listeners’ throats, there was something about 50 Cent very different from anything anyone had ever seen before. The only thing missing from the finished product was the actual music, which came in the form of the classic album “Get Rich or Die Tryin.”

From the time “In Da Club” reached the airwaves, 50 Cent had the musical formula down for crafting catchy hits that at the same time could not be accused of being corny – a direct contrast to his then competitor Ja Rule. After bringing his entire group of friends and cronies into the music industry and letting them put out group and solo albums – standard practice in the rap world – it was time for 50 Cent to return with a solo album of his own.

What followed was “The Massacre,” in which 50 Cent further tweaked this formula and provided an album that failed to live up to the standard set by its predecessor. While not a complete failure, the bar was set too ridiculously high for “The Massacre” to surpass those expectations.

Fast forward two years to “Curtis,” 50 Cent’s most recent offering to fans. The album starts with a movie clip about purchasing powerful weapons, which transitions into the opening track “My Gun.” For the next couple songs, 50 Cent raps about killing people, accompanied by the standard Akon guest appearance. The next song, “I Get Money,” steals the show, resonating through the speaker system and lodging itself firmly in the listener’s memory. This song is so good it should make it onto a top 10 list for this entire decade.

Unfortunately, the buildup gets derailed on the very next song, “Come and Go.” However, 50 Cent recovers quite nicely in the next group of songs, which includes “Ayo Technology,” “Amusement Park,” “Straight To The Bank” and “Follow My Lead,” one of the album’s better collaborations with R & B crooner Robin Thicke. The next track up is the obligatory diss record “Fully Loaded Clip,” which is pretty standard musical fare if you are familiar with 50 Cent’s catalogue of material.

The weirdness of the Eminem-assisted “Peep Show” doesn’t do much to add to the album, and starts the rest of the songs on a slow downward spiral until “Curtis” comes to a close.

During the two years which passed in between “Curtis” and “The Massacre,” 50 Cent did absolutely nothing to try and reinvent the wheel. In other words, all of the tracks on “Curtis” sound as if you’ve heard them before – even though you haven’t. While there are some pretty good songs on this album, you have to wonder whether his newfound fortune shilling Vitamin Water has taken away some of the hunger and angst that once filled the heart and tracks of the original mixtape superstar.

Believe it or not, “Curtis” is actually a self-titled album (“Fitty’s” real name is Curtis Jackson). The egomaniacal 50 Cent could not rap again another day in his life and still be financially stable forever, but does he have to make it so obvious during this hour-long bragging and boasting extravaganza? It might be time for him to get his resume ready, because it doesn’t look like he has much of a future in this line of work much longer.