Artist: 50 Cent
Album: The Massacre
Label: Shady / Aftermath
Rating: 4 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L, Raj, Noixe
The plan was devised and it sounded good. I couldn’t be arsed wading through this on my own, so I’d round up a posse, circle the literary wagons and show that rootin’ tootin’ varmint what a clinical review process is…
Unfortunately two of the crew got lost in the stew (peace out to the twin slackers, BSE and Mistajam), and so it was left to a handsome Irish hero, and his trusty sidekicks, Baltimore Bulldog Raj, and Nasty Noixe (he of Underground Post fame) to talk this shit out…
Welcome to “The Massacre” – get your fucking reading glasses on…
A to the L says:
Like every G-Unit related album so far the thing that stands out on “The Massacre” is the beats. When they’re good, they’re often exceptionally good, and when they’re bad, they’re just fucking awful. The big difference between this joint however and the first 50 joint, the Banks and Buck LPs, and the Game album is the fact that with those releases there was a fairly even split between bullshit and banger – here the amount of dross on an overlong album engulfs the listener in a sea of testicles. Yes folks, “The Massacre” is largely bollocks – fuck what you heard.
And yet… and yet… and yet…
Despite the scrotal overload, there’s something about ‘In My Hood’ that begs for rewinding. Maybe its the fact that 50 is so desperate to appear hard that his voice is cracking with the strain on the chorus. Maybe its the C Styles and Bang Out production which to these tired old lugholes sounds like a GANXSTA version of ‘Bucktown’. I am hearing horns in there, I’m not crazy.
Who is that Scottish bloke at the start of ‘This Is 50’? Why does the production from Sha Money XL and Black Jeruz sound like they stole one of Dre’s reject beat tapes? Why does 50 sound like he just woke up? Why does he do that same sing-song thing that he ripped the piss out of Ja-Rule for doing? Why is this song so dogwank?
Oh look its a song with a morbid title! Oh look its ‘I’m Supposed To Die Tonight’! Oh look its a limp-a-long beat with ‘haunting’ strings! It must be an Eminem beat. Yes, its as equally shit as all his other beats. Move along, nothing to see or hear here (especially since it seems like Eminem has coached 50 on how to spit here – ‘Hey Curtis – say your shit as if you were crashing ‘The Way I Am’ into ‘Toy Soldiers’ – it’ll be that next shit.’) Fuck off Marshall you knobjockey.
Next up, ‘PiggyBank’. The more I hear this, the more I love the beat, and the more I wish that Curtis actually HAD said some nutso shit on it. Needlz’ production, with the choir smeared all over it, really deserves something better than the tiny spitballs 50 fires out over the top. This is the big letdown – the beat is dope, and 50 sounds swaggeringly confident on the mic here… but his rhymes are straight up assbutter. Imagine if he had ripped this with some ‘How To Rob’ standard shit? For now though, I’ll ride with the instrumental.
Then we come to ‘Gatman And Robbin’ featuring Eminem, and well… gimmickry of this magnitude can go one of two ways: either we’re so enraptured by the masterful use of sample, concept, and theme, that we excuse what would normally pass for an annoyance… or, the ploy falls flat on it’s face, we are summarily put off by every nuance, and begin to find fault with the occasional duplicitous statement. Guess which one we have here…
Eminem demonstrates his growing predilection for string section-based production (you’ve heard it before on Jay-Z’s ‘Renegade’, his own “Encore” LP, and his work on the posthumous 2Pac album), creating a passable version of the original “Batman” TV theme. Get it, everyone? Batman & Robin = Gatman & Robbin’… not really genius, like the majority of 50’s lyrics on the track. Credit goes to Eminem to an extent, as he manages to reiterate the sentiments from Encore’s ‘Like Toy Soldiers’, extending another olive branch of sorts as far as the whole Shady/G-Unit/Source/Benzino affair. 50, however doesn’t sound as if he wants any part of plans for a dÃ©tente, between referencing his Kevlar vest and revolver.
Honestly, there’s an air of “been there, done that” about the whole track from a lyrical standpoint, and the production doesn’t aid matters. Of course, there’s a good video treatment in there somewhere, perhaps with a nod to past Eminem videos. Not much of a silver lining, but one takes what one can under such circumstances. [An aside: Does anyone else notice that Obie Trice only seems to get mentioned these days as a byproduct of Em realizing that Mr. Trice’s given name rhymes with Mr. Mathers’ preferred take on his group’s name (what’s good, D-Twizzy)?]
‘Candy Shop’, the second single, gets an assist from Scott “Strings For Club Use” Storch on production, and G-Unit female representative Olivia on vocals. While the track does have some of those same hypnotic qualities that Storch brought to burners like ‘Lean Back’, even he can’t save 50 from, well, 50.
With the P.R. machine in high gear for the album, one can’t helped but be amused hearing snippets of 50 commenting on this track as part of the Best Buy commercials here in the US. Seriously, he actually says that the goal of this song was “to make a sexual song without being too obsce…” Hmm, no one will ever figure out the hidden messages behind “I’ll let you lick the lollipop”, “If you be a nympho, I’ll be a nympho”, and “Give it to me baby, nice and slow, climb on top, ride like you in the rodeo”, let alone think there’s anything obscene there. Between Olivia on the call and response and 50’s subtle verses, there’s plenty of ‘sexual song’ to go around. Unfortunately, after the umpteenth time hearing this (and you will hear this umpteen times daily on mainstream radio… but that’s the point of marketing), you’d rightfully be convinced that this sounded better when it was called ‘Magic Stick’ and had extra subtlety courtesy of Lil’ Kim.
Admittedly, that quick orchestral lead-in before the track instrumental kicks in is also a nice touch, a very nice one; on the other hand, it’s reminiscent of the intro to the classic Coldcut remix of Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid In Full”… and that’s a far better song. Regardless, this track has the “drunken Ivy League student” seal of approval, so get comfortable with that subtlety. Whoa…
As for ‘Outta Control’ – let’s review the recipe, for the novice rap chefs out there. Upbeat march cadence; check. Dre and friends (this time, acclaimed in-house collaborator Mike Elizondo) on the boards; check. Referencing classic flow (see Audio Two’s ‘Top Billin’); check. Top it off with a chorus inspired by… Strafe?
Yeah, that Strafe… they of Walter Gibbons’ 1984 house anthem ‘Set It Off’ fame. Weren’t expecting that one, eh? Maybe that’s 50’s mischievous side at work… Whatever it is, it would have been better served on the discard pile. The chorus aside, the verses come off as forced at best, tripe at worst, and it’s just 3+ minutes of decent production wasted…
CYG (Check Your Gangsta) Alert, folks; your G-Unit general let slip this nugget: “Success is my drug, I get high off life”??? Keep in mind that this is on an album alongside tracks like ‘Gunz Come Out’ and ‘Ski Mask Way’. Not really much more to say about that, unless we want to drop back to freshman psychology on some “ghetto griot as conflicted messenger” tangent. Really, I can’t massage a legitimate review out of that premise… I can’t, I say.
In short, this one comes off as if 50 wanted to have a backup ‘In The Club’ refix, in case the partygoer contingent didn’t respond appropriately to ‘Disco Inferno’. ‘Disco Inferno’ itself isn’t that much of an anthem (not to be confused with the fact that at this point in time, it’s a requisite crate cut for the clubs), and this one doesn’t present itself as a better alternative.
Noixe and I had a short series of exchanges that started with us having opposite opinions of ‘Get In My Car’. Noixe said “it’s good”, and I said something along the lines of “no.” Yeah, that’s a pretty accurate summary. Trust, though, that I was going through a period of high forensic depth right there.
Honestly, the first couple of times I listened to this track, I couldn’t be bothered with it. “Blah, blah, blah, get in my carrrr” : Suffice it to say that it was quickly nestling its way into a comfortable position on the “upon encountering, please skip me” list… but then…
The threshold moment is actually listening to this in your car. Seriously, play this in your car (or someone else’s ride, if you’re without personal transport, or are pushing something along the vein of a station wagon, minivan, or Toyota Tercel); that six-note Hi-Tek loop sounds nice when you’re making slow progress down the block. Consider this: if there wasn’t already a track called ‘Ryder Music’, you couldn’t be faulted for giving ‘Get In My Car’ a similar subtitle. Like my cousin used to say about his beloved 90s era NY thug rap, “It rides so well, y’know?” Run o’ the mill lyrics about materialism, success, and spitting game to various women (available, taken, and every status in-between) sound better this way, simple as that.
Plus, in the midst of targeting as many rappers and singers as possible on various other tracks on the album, he manages to slip in a little barb at Ms. Vivica “The WB finds me a film star worthy of judging other wannabe film stars in a reality show format” A. Fox. C’mon, after all the posturing and commentary that Vivica has dropped since their little period of togetherness way back when, everyone can get a good chuckle out of a line like, “Went out with Vivica, I thought I was on to somethin’… but then the next week… nah, man, it was nothing…'” Grazie, Curtis
This next stretch of “The Massacre” is the most tragic, not because it’s bad, but because if everyone on the album was as good as these four songs, 50 would have a classic. In four songs, the listener gets robbed, hooked on heron, bangs down the block and gets four or five breezies in the club. That’s all the rap listening public asks for. The violent, the tragic, the lavish, the celebratory. Simple and sweet.
‘Ski Mask’ doesn’t sound phoned-in, as many street rhymes tend to be when the author actually leaves the street. 50 is still scary, not scary in an over-produced, cartoonish way like Bonecrusher. 50 is eerily serious over uncomfortably smoothed out vibraphone soul. ‘Baltimore Love Thing’ namechecks America’s urban heroin problem and rides the love/addiction analogy. Even if a bit obvious, it’s as touching as 50 Cent will ever get. ‘Ryder Music’ is not as memorable as Hi-Tek’s other banger, the bouncy ‘Get In My Car’, but it’s head and shoulders above all the other filler on the album. And, of course, we finish with ‘Disco Inferno’, which is as good as ‘Candy Shop’ is bad.
A to the L says:
Then, in as blatant attempt to cash in on a hot sound as you’ll ever see, Scott Storch crashes ‘Candy Shop’ into ‘Lean Back’ twice, picks up the debris and firstly gives us ‘Just A Little Bit’, and then ‘Build You Up’. In both cases, we have the same drums, the same sprinkles of Indian flavor, and the same urge to hit the skip button. And if that isn’t already hard enough to take, I defy you to listen to ‘Just A Little Bit’ and the followung Dre-produced track, ‘Gunz Come Out’ and not hear almost the same beat played with different instruments. Of course Dre liberally pastes Dre trademark pianos all over the shop here too, setting the scene early for the huge disappointment that “The Detox” promises to be.
Wow. ‘My Toy Soldiers’. I thought that was an Eminem song? Well the inlay says this is an Eminem beat… but its FAST… and there’s no strings… so how can it be? Well I guess the fact that its as shit as the slow Eminem beats, is the only proof that we need that Marshall was indeed behind the boards. Why does 50 sound so uncomfortable over fast beats? Why does Tony Yayo sounds like he shoulda stayed in jail? Why am I still listening?
Next up, ‘Position Of Power’ aka ‘the one where Curtis tries to sound like 2pac’. This cut sounds crazy old, and despite the abundance of awful tracks crowding around it like a bad smell, it still sounds horribly dated and startingly out of place. And shit.
The impressive Needlz tries valiantly to fight against the tide of excrement with the dreamy ‘God Give Me Style’, and 50 delivers the goods here, unlike his wastefulness on the ‘PiggyBank’ beat… but the positive vibes from this cut are soon washed over by another tide of shit – ‘So Amazing’ bites ‘Part Time Lover’ in the worst possible way, with a sparkly MAKE-ME-A-SINGLE-PLEASE beat and that big nosed bint Olivia wailing over the top. Fluffy filler ‘for da ladies’… its sadly THAT transparent.
Somewhere in the recesses of Curtis’ mind though, there must have been the reminder to end your shit strongly. Luckily, he’s listened to the inner voice, and Buckwild’s ‘I Don’t Need Em’ beat is straight fire and provides a base for 50 to cockily spit the standard NY thug rap rhymes. Why the whole album couldn’t be like this, is a question best answered by 50’s bank manager.
Rounding things off is a nice little remix of ‘Hate It Or Love It’. I guess 50 decided that the early street buzz saying that Game’s beats were better than his had to be dealt with by snaffling one of the man’s beats back onto his own album. No need to say any more about the Game and 50’s little tongue kissing issues – y’all know the deal by now.
So what’s the verdict on this ‘too long’ album? Well you know we had to do it up properly with an equally ‘too long’ review… but seriously… there’s even less here to return to regularly that there was on “Get Rich.” It seems that 50, like his good chum Em, has fallen into the trap of believing his own hype, and with each new freestyle, with each radio promo appearance, his head has swelled to the point where (like his good chum Em) he now knows he can put out ANYTHING and it will sell, and because of this, the hunger to maintain high quality is not there. Much of this album is pure shite. This pure shite will however be gobbled up by a pop crowd more intent on being ‘down wit da hood’ than on listening to decent hiphop. Fuck them. Fuck 50 Cent. Fuck “The Massacre”. Wait for the instrumental to drop on the net and download the good tracks, otherwise avoid.