"Don't believe the hype". Those immortal words once spoken by Public Enemy in 88' now ring true almost a decade later. The word hype is an interesting concept in Hip-Hop. On one hand it is the driving force behind an artists success. 50 Cent has almost redefined the term hype in 2002. His G-Unit mixtapes and guest appearances propelled the Queens native into super stardom even before his debut album ever dropped. Hype was certainty defined by 50 in 2002. However, on the other hand, for many artists its that same hype that ultimately leads to their downfall as they cannot live up to the standards set upon them. Back in 1998 a much hyped debut album by Canibus went onto be an utter disaster, as it was the hype or lack of reaching such status that destroyed his career. While Canibus' and 50 Cent's career's are total opposites, they do run a very similar path as both emcees went the opposite route to becoming stars, doing so even before they dropped an album. After all the hype and anticipation 50 Cent's "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" falls into that category of not living up to the hype.
Make no mistake; 50 Cent's long awaited, highly anticipated debut album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" does not live up to the hype. Some called it the biggest debut album in recent history, while others called it a classic in the making. While certainly his mainstream audience will enjoy what 50 presents with "Get Rich Or Die Tryin", the aura of a great or classic album is no where to be found.
With such a great run in 2002, many questioned if 50 could keep up the road runner pace he was at. It seemed like every week a new 50 Cent or G-Unit album was released, making many critics wonder if 50 had any gas left in the tank for his debut album. Would 50 be able to keep pumping out verses good enough to satisfy fans while at the same time continually drop new mixtape material? Sadly the answer is no. Lyrically "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" is a huge disappointment, as the lyrical hunger seen by 50 in the past is all but gone.
Many artists debut album feature their finest material for a number of reasons, one of which is due to the hunger of a new artist looking to make his claim in the industry. 50 Cent is already a superstar emcee who is going to sell a couple million units regardless of his performance on "Get Rich Or Die Tryin". There is no hunger seen from 50 as it seems he has relaxed and became comfortable knowing success is inevitable. He continually drops lackluster, uninspiring verse after verse throughout the album as seen on the generic, run of the mill type sounds of "Poor Lil Rich", "Gotta Make It To Heaven", "High All The Time" and "If I Can't". Not surprisingly the two best performances on the album are the bonus cuts "U Not Like Me" and "Life's On The Line", both of which have been around for years. With these older tracks thrown in, you can witness the transformation of the 50 we once knew and the 50 of today.
Besides the lyrical content, which is done right lurid, for the most part the majority of "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" is forced, generic, boring, uninspiring and lacking anything that will make you come back for more. Take for example the generic sounds of "Poor Lil Rich", where 50 runs through a typical boring concept of poverty and wealth. Or "21 Questions" featuring West Coast veteran Nate Dogg which is a boring question filled song for the females out there. Forced with out a doubt, "21 Questions" is not of the 50 mold and is obviously out of place.
While 50 has always portrayed that gritty thug image, he amazingly goes the more commercial/radio friendly route with songs such as "If I Cant'", "Like My Style" featuring Tony Yayo and "Blood Hound" featuring the pathetic Young Buc. It's on these tracks where 50 tries too hard to capitalize on his catchy phrases, witty wordplay and sing along hooks. The good old Dr. Dre's production on "If I Can't" is just another example of his fall from grace, as the cut and paste Dre sounds are of the same typical manor he has been pumping out ever since "2001". The Rockwilder produced "Like My Style" is a horrible attempt at a club banger and should have never been considered for the final cut off the album. 50's catchy, lovable style comes through full force leaving much to be desired lyrically and conceptually. What happened to 50 sticking to his guns and not swaying into the pop spotlight he so despises?
The two worst efforts on "Get Rich Or Die Trying" are "Blood Hound" and "Pimp". "Blood Hound" is easily the worst 50 Cent song every created in his short history, as the horrible production and corny concept and hook are enough to turn you away. Not helping one bit is the unknown Young Buc who sounds like a bad East Coast incarnation of Nelly on the mic. How this kid got on the album is beyond everybody's imagination. "Pimp" is just as bad, as it's exactly what you would expect, 50 spitting about his mack game. Behind the boards is D12's Denaun Porter who once again puts forth a horrendous production effort. Why this kid continues to put out work for some of the biggest stars is beyond me. "Pimp" combined with Rakim's track on the "8 Mile Soundtrack" is enough to prove that he just doesn't have what it takes to make big hits, somebody lock this guy in a closet for future Shady/Aftermath releases.
Besides 50, Dr. Dre makes a big impact on "Get Rich Or Die Tryin", only not in the way you would expect. In XXL Dre proclaimed he gave 50 the beats he was using for his up and coming album "Detox" and that 50 got the best he had to offer. Well if that is true than it is official, Dr. Dre has fallen off. If the beats on "If I Can't" and "Heat" are the best Dre has to offer than maybe the good doctor should go back to the lab. Both tracks are of your simplistic nature, nothing of the classic Dr. Dre mold. However, the hit single "In Da Club" and "Backdown" are solid production efforts from Dre so maybe all hope is not lost.
While a lot of criticism can be thrown around for 50's performance on "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" there are some stellar moments not to be overlooked. It seems about half of the album is what we expected it to be while the other half is disappointing. The two singles "In Da Club" and "Wanksta" have been burning up radio stations all across America for months and will continue to do so. It is these type of tracks which thrusted 50 into the superstar he is today. "High All The Time" and the Reef produced "What Up Gangsta" are of similar mode, mixing 50's fiery personality with his catchy lyricism and hooks. "Many Men" is one of the finer tracks featured on the album, as it mirrors that classic 50 sound we have watched mature over the years. The dreary track full of death and drama is done quite well, depicting 50's run in with death himself. 50 has always been able to capture that dark image of life and death, since his life has experienced both sides of the fence, dealing with an almost near fatal shooting and now super stardom.
As expected 50 goes at everybody's favorite target Ja Rule and Murda Inc on the humorous "Backdown". With Dre lacing the production side, 50 goes at Ja and Murda Inc pretty hard, poking fun at Ja's pop status "Jay put ya on, X made ya hot, now ya running around like you some big shot". Irv Gotti's obsession with Suge "And your boss is a bitch, if he could he would, sell his soul…to be like Suge", and Cadillac Tah's inability to become an elite emcee "your never gonna sell Mitsubishi tah crack child".
Of course Eminem makes an appearance on "Get Rich And Die Tryin" and unlike Dre delivers perfectly. "Patiently Waiting" and "Don't Push Me" featuring Lloyd Banks are once again cut off the Eminem mold with a slowed down tempo and dark, melodic production. Eminem tears the mic up on "Patiently Waiting" making 50's verse seem like child plays. "They think they crazy, but they ain't crazy, let's face it. Shit basically they just playin sick. They ain't shit, they ain't sayin shit, spray em' fifty. A to the K get in the way. I'll bring Dre and them wit me. And turn this day into fuckin mayhem, you stayin wit me". Even though Em easily outshines all others on the album, 50's second verse off of "Patiently Waiting" is one of the worst with such over used lines like "Snoop said this in ninety four, "We don't love them hoes" and corny lines like "Leave ya lookin like the Michael Jackson jackets wit all them zippers. I'm the boss on this boat, you can call me skipper. The way I turn the money over, you should call me flipper". On "Don't Push Me" G-Unit soldier Lloyd Banks actually outshines all others including Em who drops a decent verse but nothing special by his means. Bank's raw and intense hunger has gained him a lot of hype, leaving many to believe he is the real true talent of G-Unit, even surpassing 50.
"Get Rich Or Die Tryin" is a disappointing album for long time 50 Cent fans who recognized the mans talent's long before his signing with Shady Records and the huge success of "Wanksta". However, "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" will still be a huge success for 50 Cent. Fans everywhere will flock to the album regardless of how it sounds. The streets hyped the album up enough that "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" could have turned out any way imaginable and people would still feel it no matter what. When an artist is as big as 50 Cent is, the quality of your music is not as important in deciding whether fans or critics will like your album; the name is enough to do that. In today's society fans are force fed material over and over again and are told they are supposed to like it, which will probably be the case with this album. While its not a bad album, it's ultimately all the hype that 50 was going up against and ultimately he didn't come through like many thought he would. For newfound fans and bandwagon jumpers, "Get Rich Or Die Tryin" will be everything they hoped for. But for longtime 50 Cent fans, "Get Rich Or Die Trying" will offer little for you to remember it by down the road. Regardless of the perception of this album, 50 Cent is still one of the biggest artists in the industry and will be for a long time.