10 Things 50 Cent Needs to Do to Become Relevant Again
50 Cent is making a comeback. The rapper is gearing up for the June 3 release of his fifth studio album, ‘Animal Ambition.’ The last few years haven’t been the most productive for the rapper’s music career, although now that he’s cut his ties with the Interscope behemoth that released his previous projects, he’s in a position to embrace his newfound creative freedom and craft the sort of uncompromising album that reminds us all how he used to be one of hip-hop’s most fearsome forces. What must Curtis Jackson do to reclaim his crown? Here are 10 Things 50 Cent Needs to Do to Become Relevant Again.
Forget About Chasing Chart Hits
50 is financially flush for life. Having sold over 20 million albums worldwide -- including a now legendary 872,000 first-week copies of his 2003 debut 'Get Rich or Die Tryin'' -- he shouldn't feel the pressure to aim for the pop charts with 'Animal Ambition.' He'd be better served by making an unerringly-hardcore album that channels the energy and anger of his early mixtape days.
After all, the tactic worked for his last great anthem, 'I Get Money,' which was hooked around 50 spitting arrogantly over little more than some brilliantly gutter-smeared drums. Leave the R&B hook singers at home for this one, Fif'.
Before the release of 'Get Rich or Die Tryin',' 50 was the world's most dangerous rapper. His back story about having been shot nine times cast him as a menace to the mainstream's morals; his mixtapes presented him as an incendiary rapper ready to start beefs and throw shots on a whim.
After finding success though he's settled into a caricature of his former self, being content to get his kicks by playing pranks on Twitter. We need the old 50 back -- the one who underscored that trademark chipmunk grin with real menace in his eyes.
Keep the Guest List Exclusive
Early guest features for 'Animal Ambition' are rumored to include Styles P and Jadakiss, plus the lesser-known G-Unit member Kidd Kidd. The Lox men might be cameo kings but will their verses really add much to the album? Ditto for Kidd Kidd, who is slated to appear on an unnecessary three songs.
Fif' needs to ditch the random guest list for this one: How about capping the cameos at one track that reunites the original Guerrilla Unit foot soldiers Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, plus maybe calling in a favor with Eminem and dressing up as "Gatman and Robbin" all over again?
Head Underground for Beats
50 Cent became a superstar from the jump due to mega-budget production from Dr. Dre. That was over a decade ago though and since then his ability to stay relevant in the musical mainstream has been diminishing.
So how about playing a production wildcard for 'Animal Ambition' and handing the entire project over to New York's most critically-acclaimed underground figures, Roc Marciano and KA? After all, 50 has already expressed his admiration for Brownsville KA's ability to craft evocatively brooding music and Roc's stock is steadily rising after Jay Z and Questlove co-signed his music via tweets. Let Roc and KA team up and bring back that eerie murder music vibe for 50.
This Queens, N.Y., native has always prided himself on being emotionally guarded -- he'd prefer to spit about letting off a barrage of bullets rather than confess to moments of doubt or insecurity. But those scant occasions when he has opened up in song are some of his most effective -- not least with his 12-bar confessional on 'Hate It or Love It.'
50 recently told MTV News that he thinks Lloyd Banks needs to toughen up after the passing of his father -- but most times getting a little emotional helps the music connect with fans. Fif' might want to re-think his G-Unit therapist tactics.
Let Comedy Ensue
Alternatively, if 50 isn't comfortable with revealing more of his inner feelings to the world, he should hole up with a pair of SMS Audio headphones and blitz through a bunch of his early mixtapes. It might help him reconnect with the humor that used to run through his music, whether dropping deliberately crass boasts or cheeky threats towards his rivals.
50 should leave the Twitter jokes alone for a minute and air out that wicked sense of humor in his raps again.
For all his sales records and platinum plaques, Fif' isn't usually lauded as one of the pure lyrical greats. Not that the potential isn't there -- he just needs to challenge himself conceptually. When he does stretch himself he's capable of penning poignant and persuasive lyrics, as with his anthropomorphic heroin rap 'Baltimore Love Thing.' Let's see more of the creative 50, please.
Expand the Portfolio
Bragging and boasting has always been a key part of hip-hop, but too often a millionaire rapper's boasts about being rich come off as hollow. Do we really need to hear again how Fif' made more money from his Vitamin Water deal than most rappers do in their entire career?
For 'Animal Ambition,' he needs to talk less about what he already has and start letting us know what he wants in the future. Or at the very least give us 'How to Rob a Tech Start-Up C.E.O.'
Ditch 'Animal Ambition' Cover Art
According to an image on 50 Cent's website, the cover art to 'Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win' (to give the project its full motivational title) features a snarling lion's head. Unfortunately, it does little more than bring to mind those bizarre 'Watch the Throne' images of Jay Z and Kanye West morphed into big cats. Having your own album cover recall the work of your rivals is not exactly a savvy move. Switch it up, Fif'!
Go to War With Jay Z
Speaking of 'Watch the Throne,' maybe the 'Animal Ambition' artwork is just the first step in 50 Cent finally announcing open season on his long-suspected industry foe, Jay Z. Since the days of 'How to Rob,' where 50 dropped tongue-in-cheek lyrics about robbing other rappers, rumors have suggested Jay has not been particularly enamored with 50. (Fif's stick-up kid fantasy had him claiming, "What, Jigga just sold like four milli? Got something to live for/ Don't want a n---- putting four through that Bentley Coupe door.")
Recently Fif' has been throwing shots at Jay in interviews by claiming he sold millions of records during Jigga's various retirements. How about they quit the subliminals and air this beef out once and for all? 50 and Jay going track-for-track in a good old fashioned dis war would ensure one hell of a hot summer.