Saturday, November 21, 2009

Album Review: 50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct (3/5)

The last time we he heard from Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent, he was challenging Kanye West in the now infamous album race to determine would shift more units on their release week, of course West won, and rightfully so as he did have the better album, however Jackson's Curtis was still a solid album.

Being such a staple to hip-hop music during his years of power, particularly 2003 to 2005, his fourth album, Before I Self Destruct, depicts signs of that power beginning to wear off. It definitely didn't embrace the charm that made his breakthrough, Get Rich or Die Trying, so appealing and likable or the blend of catchy poppy hooks and flaming hip-hop beats that made, The Massacre, an instant million-seller. Or maybe Jackson's running out of things to say, not that its his lyrical wit that made his first two albums glisten--If he does have anything to say it's too buried beneath his excessive boasting and lyrical put-downs to others. Once billed the hottest man in hip-hop, Before I Self Destruct leaves a lot to be accounted for.

Now, there are a handful of good tracks on here, such as its best track "Baby By Me" featuring Ne-Yo, thumping a slick rhythmn and recurring poignant piano keys towards each second half of a verse. I particularly like the beginning, which Jackson briefly raps ("have a baby by me, be a millionaire") over the strutting bass line--which repeats again before each verse begins. It's definately no "Ayo Technology" but it's a really good song. The R. Kelly collaboration on "Could've Been You" is pretty good, I like the drum line and R&B-styled strings.

More good tracks include "OK, You're Right" which goes for that big dominating orchestration sound and the swaggering drum line to keep things leveled. I like the female vocal sample in "Strong Enough," in which Jackson also gives an aggressive vocal on the chorus. The light piano keys and consistent bass line in "Stretch" is another winner.

Then there's the cliche "Death to My Enemies," which is really an archetypal (but more brutal) rant at haters, which he's done on every single album. It gets boring after the first two times. Jackson attempts playful rapping on "Crime Wave," over the hard-hitting piano chords (which I really like) he sounds creepy, I'm not sure if that was the goal.

As well as being generally disappointing, sales for the album are look dim also. Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3, this is not. If I were to compare it, an obvious choice would be Eminem's Relapse--I also gave it a 3/5, but I do like it better than Before I Self Destruct. Funnily enough there's a pretty pleasing Eminem collaboration on here titled "Physco," mainly built around kinetic handclaps and orhcestration.

Maybe I'll grow to like it as I'm I am a fan of 50, but thinking are just not clicking. Has hip-hop moved on? Is 50 passed his prime? Or is he just too good for the current state of hip-hop? Before I Self Destruct maybe a disappointment, but there's still the good old three first albums to back to listen to.

Best: Baby By Me, Could've Been You, Strong Enough, OK You're Right, Strech, Physco


Mel said...

There's something about the term 'Baby By Me' that skeeves me out. Perhaps it's because I'm female, so the term 'by me' bugs me, and it wouldn't sound so foreign to men? It's...just a possessive phrase of words.

J.Mensah said...

Haha! I know you what you mean although I can't relate. I gues he's just a very... dominant(sp?) person :)