Saturday, May 31, 2014

50 Cent still angry on Animal Ambition

Animal Ambition (June 2014) by 50 Cent
Damn, 11 years is a long time in rapper years. From 2003-2005, Queens-born sieve 50 Cent was not to be messed with. His debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) is one of those undeniable gangsta rap classics, containing timeless tracks like smash hit In Da Club, Eminem collaboration Patiently Waiting, the introspective Many Men, and Ja Rule eulogy Back Down, among others. With Dr. Dre and Eminem behind him, a highly marketable background story working in his favor, and textbook hooks to lace his angry rhymes with, 50 soon became the world's favorite bad guy.

His immense popularity served as a wonderful platform for other G-Unit projects, with group effort Beg For Mercy (2003) probably leaning closest to GRoDT, and The Hunger For More (2004) and Straight Outta Cashville (2004) establishing Lloyd Banks and Young Buck as solo artists in their own right. 50 Cent looked further than music, though, venturing into clothing, beverages, porn, video games, and ultimately, straight-to-DVD movies. After executive producing The Documentary (2005) by Dr. Dre protege Game, Ferrari F-50 was up again.

His sophomore album, promisingly titled The Massacre (2005), broke my 15-year old heart. I had obsessed for months about the album, scoured the web for updates, and rushed to the record store (ancient times!) when it finally came out. To my disappointment, the album was poppy and formulaic, with lackluster rhymes and concepts very unlike what the hardcore Queens spitter had put hip-hop on its head with just two years earlier. The Game, who was going through a well-publicized beef with 50 Cent at the time, thankfully employed the sing-songy album to destroy 50's street credibility with a series of murderous diss tracks, spearheaded by the 18-minute long 300 Bars. And that's all she wrote. 

Sure, the G-Unit head honcho still managed to use controversy as a marketing tactic for new releases, going toe-to-toe with Dipset CEO Cam'Ron and Roc-A-Fella beatsmith Kanye West for Curtis (2007), and going after Rick Ross and Jay-Z to drum up a buzz for Before I Self-Destruct (2009). However, with these "beefs" too fabricated and altogether meaningless, and his music not being up to par, 50 Cent soon became an afterthought.

Animal Ambition

To be honest, I didn't even know Mr. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson was still making music, much less had a new album out. Apparently, he is no longer on Interscope, opting instead to put out Animal Ambition independently via a series of video releases. Not a single one of them had popped up on my radar.

For the sake of nostalgia, I decided to check out the album when I saw a review for it in Humo. Unfortunately, Animal Ambition offers more of the same flimsy 50 Cent raps about money and success, all simply too hapless and unoriginal to stand out. If it wasn't for Hold On, title-track Animal Ambition, and Irregular Heartbeat (featuring protege Kidd Kidd and former foe Jadakiss), this ode to ambition would have put me to sleep. Which is amazing, if you ask me, because the album is not even 40 minutes long. 

What I take away from 50's fifth studio effort? Above all that 11 years is truly a long time.

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