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20 Watts Reviews 50 Cent’s Before I Self Destruct by JohnCassillo
November 17, 2009, 12:00 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , , , ,

50 Cent's Before I Self Destruct starts strong, but ultimately falls short

PREVIEW: VISIT 50 Cent’s Myspace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

Within seconds of the start of “The Invitation,” you can’t help but feel like something has fundamentally changed about 50 Cent. Emotional, gruff and almost angry, the rapper responsible for one of the biggest hits of the decade, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, sounds like he has something to prove.

And truth be told, he does. Since the landmark release of Get Rich, 50’s released a series of duds that have simply paled in comparison. Combined with an ever-evolving popular hip-hop scene now centered around nemeses Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne, the past few years have threatened to plunge him into relative obscurity.

How much his latest, Before I Self Destruct, does to change that, however, is debatable.

The album does indeed start strong. 50 is confident (not cocky), and unrelenting in the opening stanzas — telling the listener all about the future, rather than hanging his hat on the past. Tracks like “Then Days Went By” and “Death to My Enemies” give the appearance of a seasoned, humble veteran, instead of the braggadocio’s overconfidence he’s employed in recent years. Even the Eminem-featured “Psycho” seems to put ego aside, indicating to all that perhaps 50 Cent has changed.

But then he slowly begins to revert back to the rapper we’ve all grown sadly accustomed to. Amidst superior production, and some of the most experimental hip-hop beats you’ll hear this year, 50 gets downright lazy for most of the remainder of the record. A solid portion of the rhymes are stale, cliched and indistinguishable from one another. Tracks like “Do You Think about Me” and “Stretch” function as merely throwaways in a collection that wants to be great, but can’t get out of its own way.

All things considered, it’s better than Curtis, but in no way can Before I Self Destruct be considered a full comeback for somebody who truly needed it. Though positive steps are taken early on, it’s just not enough to completely erase the stench of the mediocre, made-for-radio “singles” he forces upon you at the end. Until ridiculous moments like “Baby By Me,” which features Ne-Yo, and the R. Kelly-featured “Could’ve Been You” can be eliminated from his collection, it appears that 50 Cent will still just be stuck in neutral.

— John Cassillo

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