REVIEW: Get Rich Or Die Tryin’

Get Rich Or Die Tryin'

Artist: Various

Album: Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ Soundtrack

Label: G-Unit / Interscope

Rating: 2.5 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

Curtis is born. Curtis sells drugs. Curtis makes raps. Curtis takes slugs (nine). Curtis survives. Curtis makes rap about selling drugs, taking slugs (nine), and surviving. Curtis makes clothes. Curtis makes water. Curtis makes sneakers. Curtis makes video games. Curtis makes MONEY.

Curtis makes movie about Curtis doing all the above. Curtis makes more money.

The end?

It still remains to be seen whether the story of 50 Cent ends with a happily ever after. For those more concerned with matters present though, the saga of 50 Cent and his grip on Hiphop seems neverending. His fans happily add G-Unit-everything to their wardrobes, and pump G-Unit-affiliated music into their ears. Meanwhile, the ears of those who don’t feel 50, are bleeding. In their view, here stands a man who is the complete antithesis of everything pure about Hiphop – a man who continually drags Hiphop through the gutter for his own fortune and fame. The former group of people will probably know the movie dialogue by heart by now, and will have snapped up this soundtrack. The latter would perhaps prefer to Calvin Butts the soundtrack, and anything else 50 related.

Hate him or love him (the underdog’s on top), its beyond doubt that 50 is a financial powerhouse. The release of the “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” biopic is the latest step in his plan for brand domination. 50 Cent dildoes are coming next apparently. For now though, lets stick with the soundtrack to the movie.

Kicking things off with the superb “Hustler’s Ambition” is a wise move. Over B-Money’s sultry backdrop, 50 spits some surprisingly complex rhymes about the drug game, as a Frank Beverley sample spurs him on. Its actually refreshing to hear 50 sound like he’s moved out of autopilot for this track – both he and his mentor Marshall have been phoning it in for a couple of years now.

“What If” keeps things at the high standard set by the opener. Here, 50 examines his position as a hood favorite, and questions how people might feel if he presented himself like other stars. His presentation of these questions is interesting – opening himself up to accusations of throwing barbs at other popular (and less popular) artists like Puffy, Jay-Z, Baby, AZ, Usher and others. Nick Speed meanwhile loops up a mellow Bobby Womack sample to perfection…

“If I got on some pretty boy shit like puffy,
Niggas in the hood man they just wouldn’t love me.
If I wore a suit everyday like Jay-Z,
Niggas would think I bumped my fucking head and went crazy.
If I put diamonds in my teeth like Baby,
I wouldn’t stand a chance to try and sell like Shady.
If I put out bullshit joints like AZ,
Every chance niggas get they’d try and play me”

From here though, the album doesn’t so much stumble slightly as collapse flat on its 9-holed face. The horrors occur when 50 spreads the tracks around his G-Unit collective – unfortunately as the entire soundtrack contains just 6 tracks that feature 50 on his own, this move isn’t really something that “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” ever recovers from. On ‘Things Change’, G-Unit new signee Spider Loc struggles to make an impact, as does his co-star on the track Lloyd Banks. 50 pops up with the usual sing-song hook, but fails to stop this looking like a reject cut from “Me Against The World”. Banks also fails to impress on the horrific ‘You Already Know’ where The Outfits’ repetitive backing track drowns out throwaway rhymes from Lloyd, 50 and Young Buck. ‘When Death Becomes You’ will be many peoples’ first encounter with the new G-Unit styled MOP. You haven’t missed much since they got here, believe me – Danze and Fame still rant and rave like rabid dogs, but their Brownsville bravado doesn’t sound half as threatening here as it does over Primo beats. Move along… move along. The other big-name signing to G-Unit in the past year is of course Mobb Deep. Unfortunately ‘Have A Party’ and the later ‘You A Shooter’ don’t raise much anticipation of an exciting career under the Gorilla banner. Fred Wreck’s track is mindnumbingly boring, Prodigy’s flow is pedestrian, Havoc’s verse seems to exist only to break up shitty Nate Dogg hooks, and 50 is back to spitting filler material – the whole thing just does not sound right. ‘You A Shooter’ is no better – this time Sha Money XL gets to play on the Casio, while 50 and the Mobb gangsta us to death.

‘We Both Thing Alike’. Well, we both do if you thing this sounds like something Al B Sure should be singing over it. I though New Jack Swing was dead? I guess they had to have some type of light track, so they could crowbar Oliver Olivia into it… maybe in the movie this cut is used as background music in an elevator scene?

Young Buck’s ‘Don’t Need No Help’ proves only that Hi-Tek was fucking with the same pre-sets for this track that he was for “The Massacre”‘s ‘Get In My Car’. Lloyd Banks’ lukewarm ‘Get Low’ proves only that rap music should not be recorded in as godawful a place as Dublin. Altrap favorite Buck needs to hurry up and make the jump to the UTP camp. Banks just needs to jump off a tall building. Hi-Tek meanwhile does impress on the later bonus cut ‘Best Friend’, where he laces 50 with a beautiful beat with a Valerie Simpson sample at its core. This is one of the other rare occasions on the album where 50 sounds half-interested on the track, and the difference between it, ‘Huster’s Ambition’ and ‘What If’ from all the other tracks is blindingly obvious.

Its surprising that it takes the album to go 10 tracks deep before we encounter Tony Yayo for the first time. Thankfully ‘Fake Love’ is his only appearance, and its NOT surprising that this track is more than a bit poo. Producer KO knows keyboards like Oasis know guitar chords, and his childlike beat manages to win the award for worst use of Ayer’s ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ in a song. Yayo manages to win an award for finishing his food without any ending up in his hair.

“Yoooooooooooooooou’s a window shopper!” Ain’t it crazy that this bullshit singing on hooks is the very thing that 50 nailed Ja-Rule’s balls to the walls for? ‘Window Shopper’ is grating in the extreme, with 50 trying out a new flow for size, and clumsily revealing that raising your voice on every 5th word, only succeeds in making you sound like someone was actually nailing his balls to the wall of the booth as he recorded. ‘Born Alone, Die Alone’ is the next track. Its by Lloyd Banks. Its also a good name for HIS movie, if you replace the word ‘alone’ with the word ‘shit’.

Dr Dre’s appearance on the boards for 2 tracks leaves him 1 for 2 at the line – ‘Talk About Me’ is so poor that it sounds like Dre actually did PRODUCE it; ‘When It Rains It Pours’ meanwhile is a lot better, meaning that Che Vicious and Mike Elizondo probably did most of the work with Dre doing the beer run to get his production credit. That’s how it normally works, right?

The rest of the album largely follows a similar path (‘Best Friend’ aside)… boring tracks with plenty of macho posturing which doesn’t disguise the fact that most of these artists are living (and recording) in a large comfort zone. There are a few comedy highlights though – Ma$e’s appearance on ‘I Don’t Know Officer’ is a hoot, as is 50 trying out a crunk-styled track (‘I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy’) for size and being outshined by Buck who sounds infinitely more comfortable over the menacing Ron Browz.

As the album draws to a close with only 3 tracks from18 worth any kind of revisiting, it would be easy to feel extremely disappointed with shelling out 15 bones for this. Following the lukewarm reception given to Yayo’s album, and the continual pushing back of Oliver’s Olivia’s long player, it could be said that “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” is the tipping point for many fans. People have been writing off 50 since the release of ‘How To Rob’ and each time he has hit back with a bigger response to his critics – this album shows that he may finally be running out of answers. Overall, its sloppy, lazy, unexciting mush sandwiched between a good opener and closer, and the public are entitled to expect better.

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