February 6, 2003, the legacy of 50 Cent and G-Unit was etched into the walls of Hip-Hop history. “Get Rich Or Die Tryin” was the number one album in the world and G-Unit was cemented as one of the future leaders of Hip-Hop. At the time the group could do no wrong, as every mixtape and featured appearance caused an uproar in the streets. It was indeed their time to shine and the group took advantage of it. However, as with many artists, there is a small window of time in which success like this occurs. How long would it be before this window closed and 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo & Young Buck were left on the outside looking in? It appears this time has come on the group’s debut album “Beg For Mercy”.
Success is a dangerous weapon in today’s era of Hip-Hop. Success can bring a variety of things, however, the most harmful is a feeling of comfort, where an artist feels they no longer have to work hard and stay on top of their game in order to produce good material. Success can also water down one’s sound, as once an artist gets a taste of the mainstream light it is not easy to back away and stay true to one’s roots. Both of these aspects have come into play on “Beg For Mercy”, G-Unit’s disappointing debut effort.
It is no secret that success has made 50 Cent a mere image of his previous self, as the once dominant and hungry emcee is now all but gone. He continually provides sloppy and rushed efforts behind the mic with no feeling, aura or intensity of his old self. But why would 50 have to work hard? He has sold over 10 million records worldwide and no matter what happens, everything he puts his name on will automatically sell and be embrace. It is this attitude that has rubbed off on his G-Unit counterparts Lloyd Banks and Young Buck on “Beg For Mercy”.
The group slothfully runs through an album filled with cliché topics, dated production and watered down material. The only topics one can look forward to on “Beg For Mercy” are murder, bitches and flossing. It is this repetitive formula along with atrocious production and sappy R&B ballads that make G-Unit’s debut a failure.
While 50 enjoyed tremendous mainstream success with his hit single “21 Questions”, it seems as if the crew tried to force the effort on “Beg For Mercy” by trying to duplicate this formula too many times. Those expecting a dark, gritty album out of the crew will definitely be in for a shock when they hear such pathetic, forced attempts as “Groupie Love”, “Wanna Get To Know You”, “Baby You Got” and “Smile”. Almost half of the album is dedicated to such attempts as the watered down sound may attract the mainstream crowd but not it’s core fan base, which expected nothing but hard-core music.
Even when the group tries to stick with their more street oriented feel the results end up disappointing due to abysmal production. “I’m So Hood” is reminiscent of a synthesizer and keyboard sound that would have come out in ’98 not in this day and age. The west coast influenced “Better Ask Somebody” is nothing short of a disaster, thanks to the worst production ever featured on a G-Unit or 50 track. “Lay You Down” is another bad effort behind the boards as is “Stunt 101” which features yet another horrendous production effort from Denaun Porter. Even though the production is horrific the direction G-Unit went in for “Stunt 101” is just as bad. Maybe G-Unit should let Cash Money stick to “stuntin” and concentrate on bigger and better things. Other attempts such as “Salute You”, “Eye For An Eye” and “Footsteps” are improvements from the titles mentioned before but still end up as average material compared to the crew’s previous catalogue.
There are only a couple of times where “Beg For Mercy” mirrors the gritty album we all expected. DJ Hi-Tek makes an appearance from the unknown with the self titled “G-Unit”, where we finally get vintage Hi-Tek back on an album after an long layoff. The good old doctor also comes through for two standout tracks “Poppin’ Them Tags” and “G’d Up”, which are the best production we have seen from Dre in awhile. The infectious “Poppin Them Tags” features a catchy hook with a haunting piano loop in the backdrop, as does “G’d Up”. Both songs epitomize the G-Unit sound perfectly and are the types of efforts we should have witnessed throughout the album’s entirety. Other standout efforts on “Beg For Mercy” included the gun toting tales of “My Buddy”, “Gangsta Shit” and the classic mixtape track “I Smell Pussy”.
Whether it’s bad production, watered down tracks or uninspired lyricism, “Beg For Mercy” is an album filled with problems. Even the group’s lyrical stronghold Lloyd Banks suffers from a monumental letdown on the album, as none of his respective verses mirror anything he is capable of producing. Maybe he tried to dumb down his lyricism in order to show his mainstream appeal or maybe the man is finally running out of steam after dropping hundreds of verses the past two years. No matter the reason, its evident Bank’s has suffered the same fate as 50 did on “Get Rich Or Die Trying” by wasting all his good verses on mixtapes. With Tony Yayo still incarcerated and the southern equivalent to 50, Young Buck, claiming his spot as the group’s worst member; Banks needed to step up. Instead he moved back ten steps instead of progressing ahead like everybody assumed he would.
No matter how you slice it “Beg For Mercy” is not the debut album fans expected. You can try and get around its problems if you like but in the end we all know the crew is capable of producing much more than a generic, run of the mill album. Maybe the crew should have stuck with the formula 50 used for his debut, which is to stick to the streets first; the mainstream appeal will come second.