September 20, 2007

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50 Cent, Curtis
Shady Aftermath, Sept. 11
Letís start with the obvious. 50 Cent has little to no interest in growing as a recording artist. If youíre OK with that, Curtis, 50ís latest record, will have everything youíre looking for. Track after track, hip-hopís most lovable thug spits rhymes on the standard issues of the day: things like having lots of money, fast cars, women, and shooting those who disrespect his love of the game. Curtis (Mr. Jackson if youíre nasty) has delivered exactly the album that youíd expect. No less, but certainly no more than that.

As his own executive producer on the record, 50 has served himself well with plenty of supporting talent. The album features a ton of artists, including Eminem, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and key members of G-Unit. Justin Timberlake also makes an appearance to team up with 50 on ďAyo Technology,Ē which is one of those pairings that sounds like it was uncomfortable for all involved.

The good here is that the album is consistently sinister and 50 sounds as menacing as ever. 50ís reputation as someone who lived the hard life on the streets selling pretty much everything youíre not supposed to sell is what gives his tracks a credibility that doesnít really compare. The thing is, the world of hip-hop is finally moving past gangsta life. Look at that list of featured artists again. Notice anything? All their careers date back to a pre-crazy Britney Spears era. Thereís a reason for that. The lifespan of a hip-hop artist is notoriously short, even for someone who was once as red hot as 50 Cent.

Maybe itís the ad for 50ís own brand of Vitamin Water inside the liner notes, but we have a hunch that 50ís connection to the streets that served as the source for his material is weakening a little bit. Thatís probably good for him as a person, but itís left his music in a bit of a rut. C+ ó Xander Scott