It’s been 10 years since Hip-Hop’s favorite antagonist unofficially released Power of the Dollar, the introductory EP which sparked controversy with “How to Rob,” a lyrical thrill-ride that jacked the music industry elite of the day. In those 10 years, 50 Cent has had a career that is the stuff of legends. By now, you should know the story by heart, orphaned early in life, shot nine times; he became a mixtape king and then shook up the world by signing with Dr. Dre and Eminem. Music, movies, books, clothing, a fragrance, even a $100 million come-up with Vitamin Water, the G-Unit General re-wrote the Hip-Hop blueprint all the while still being the rapper you love to hate.
With the release of Get Rich or Die Trying in 2003, 50 Cent charmed audiences worldwide with a flow all his own, his storytelling skills and braggadocio were unrivaled, he returned two years later with The Massacre, the deluxe version of which launched his love affair with short videos; he made one for every song on the album. But, it was 2007’s, Curtis, that marked a turning point, some would say a decline, for Fif, losing his album sales challenge to Kanye West’s Graduation put a **** in his armor, leaving him in a position where he has been before, poised for a comeback and ready to prove his detractors wrong. With Before I Self Destruct, that is exactly what he does.
From the intro, 50 Cent sets the stage for a darker and more ominous album. He waxes nostalgic on “Then Days Went By,” reminiscing on his pre-rap days, (Keep f**king with me you gon’ turn me back to Boo-Boo/have me casing out your crib/tryin’ to pop your f**king noodle). But it’s on one of the strongest tracks on the album, “Death to My Enemies”, produced by Dr. Dre and Mark Batson, where he comes closest to the aggressive and creative threatening that made him a superstar, (I’m like Damien n***a/when I start getting loose on you/closest thing to Lucifier/make you think you got a noose on you/I make it hard to breathe/I come where you hustle, air it out/make it hard to eat.)
50 plays to his many female fans on “Baby By Me” featuring Neyo, sampling himself on the hook, he promises that conceiving a child with him will make a lucky girl a millionaire, and then he turns around and releases his anger on the one woman who actually did have a baby by him. His ex-girlfriend, Shaniqua Tompkins feels the wrath on “Do You Think About Me.” (That’s why my ex is my ex/you don’t wanna be her/she used to have the Beemer/now she on the sneaker/I had her eating lobster/now she eating pizza). The song is a warning for groupies worldwide and yet still manages to pull off charisma and ghetto romance.
On “Psycho”, 50 and Eminem rekindle their familiar chemistry and the song is all that it would be expected to be, energetic and just a little psycho. 50 and Em fire warning shots at their respective enemies, all powered by a good, yet predictable Dre beat.
With only three guest appearances on the album, Neyo, Eminem, and R. Kelly on “Could’ve Been You”, 50 puts himself and his skill in the foreground. Songs like “Crime Wave”, “Get It Hot”, and “Ok, You’re Right” are classic 50 Cent. He rides the tracks with the lyrical dexterity of a gymnast. Like most G-Unit affiliated albums, many of the producers on the album are lesser-known, making their work more important than their discographies. Dr. Dre has three tracks on BISD, Havoc, Rockwilder and Polow da Don each have one on the 16 track album, but skills on the boards and compatibility play a major role.
Not a perfect album, Before I Self Destruct, lags a bit in spots, but makes up for it in sheer effort, the album is a great offering from 50 Cent sure to quiet his naysayers… for now. Sorry, haters, but there will be no destruction here, unless it’s the enemies of Curtis Jackson.