Buying new rapper’s CD just makes ‘Cents’

To inexperienced hip-hop listeners, the name 50 Cent has seemingly been thrown into the mainstream out of nowhere, invading radio airwaves and television sets through the assistance of Eminem.

On the other hand, listeners with their ears in tune with the streets have been patiently waiting for 50 Cent to make an impact on the commercial rap scene. However, no one could have imagined how dramatic of an impact he would truly make.

A native of South Jamaica, Queens, 50 Cent first entered the world of rap in 1999 with the attention-grabbing “How To Rob,” which depicted 50’s ideas on how he would go about pillaging some of the biggest names in hip-hop at the time. For reasons unknown, Columbia Records never capitalized on the strong buzz of the song, and his planned debut album Power of the Dollar became a bootlegger’s dream come true.

Many of those whose names were mentioned in “How To Rob” were not happy, turning 50 into a marked enemy, which may or may not have resulted in his being struck with nine bullets.

Once he recovered from this drastic setback, 50 Cent turned to New York City mix tapes for exposure and an outlet to release new music. With the help of such DJs as Kay Slay, Whoo Kid and DJ Clue, 50 turned into a street phenomenon, sparking his own series of mix tapes featuring performances solely from him and his crew, G-Unit. Among the many industry figures who began to feel the 50 Cent heatwave was the shady one himself, Eminem.

Eminem’s interest and influence from the larger than life Dr. Dre led to 50 Cent’s signing a joint record deal with Shady/Aftermath Records. Wasting no time, this triple-threat alliance exposed 50 Cent heavily on the hugely successful 8 Mile Soundtrack, featuring the instant hit “Wanksta” that began the enormous anticipation for 50 Cent’s official major label debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

What is shaping up to be the most talked-about rap album since Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a 16-track tour de force of production, flow and realness that has been absent from mainstream hip-hop for too many years. With this release, 50 Cent has accomplished something that an endless amount of rap artists before him have failed in their attempts to accomplish: he has delivered an album that literally has something for every hip-hop fan.

The album instantly grabs listeners’ eardrums with “What Up Gangsta,” a neck-snapping hardcore arrangement, courtesy of Reef, where 50 Cent uses a call-and-response chorus to show his street supporters that he hasn’t forgotten about them.

Being an Aftermath Records release, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is of course blessed with flawless production from the untouchable Dr. Dre. The unavoidable first single and current club staple “In Da Club” is armed with a simple yet instantly infectious Dr. Dre beat as 50 Cent delivers his rhymes with a hint of deserved arrogance, as if he knew he had a hit song on his hands while recording it.

“If I Can’t” is another speaker-damaging concoction from the Doctor, combining pounding bass and playful piano keys as rap’s new star informs the world that whatever he can’t do cannot be done, period.

“Back Down” is a scathing verbal assault on 50 Cent’s longtime enemy and pop music’s current golden child, Ja Rule. Over a sinister and hypnotic organ-driven backdrop, courtesy of Dr. Dre, 50 Cent goes for the jugular as he serves Ja Rule and his Murder Inc. family an audio beat down.

Thankfully, the number of guest appearances is small, only featuring those who are expected. G-Unit member Tony Yayo drops a verse on the Rockwilder-produced future club hit “Like My Style,” while Nate Dogg provides his crooning on “21 Questions” in which our host presents some interesting questions to members of the female gender.

Eminem, arguably the best lyricist in hip-hop, shows up on two tracks with verses and production. “Patiently Waiting” uses a low-key violin-arrangement to back up a mind-bending 20 bars from Eminem and two verses from 50 himself, while “Don’t Push Me” is a hard-as-nails display of aggression from 50, Eminem and G-Unit member Lloyd Banks.

Once Get Rich or Die Tryin’ comes to a close, it is obvious why 50 Cent has created such a powerful buzz in the industry and why Eminem and Dr. Dre quickly took him under their wings. While never dropping awe-inspiring lyrics in the likes of Eminem and Nas, he demonstrates an immensely appealing flow and a knack for catchy hooks that validate his inevitable rise to music’s elite.

Hopefully, this album will be the stepping stone for the resurgence of the gritty, raw and carefree attitude found in early to mid ’90s hip-hop, slowly bringing about the demise of the cookie-cutter hip-hop which is infecting our ears these days.