Sunday, December 14, 2008

G Unit -- Terminate on Sight

Rating: 1/5 stars

Pros: 50 & co. haven't lost confidence and swagger of their underground days.

Cons: Decision to only use cheap producers backfires spectacularly.

Bottom Line: Every one associated with album -- 50, Banks, Yayo, producers -- disappoints.

Recommended Tracks:

Rider Part 2

An underground smash in 1999, “How to Rob” introduced the world to 50 Cent. It humorously described robbing rap’s biggest stars, mocking the disconnect between their lyrics and their lifestyle: “You better recognize, I’m straight from the street / these industry cats starting to look like something to eat / What Jigga just sold, like 4 mil? He got something to live for / don’t want no one putting four through that Bentley door.”

Authenticity became 50’s main calling card. You could trust what he said; he had nine bullet holes to prove it. His debut Get Rich or Die Tryin perfected this formula, mixing glitzy beats and catchy hooks with super-aggressive, violent lyrics.

G-Unit, his rap crew, soon followed - Lloyd Banks, the lyricist/ladies-man, Young Buck, the raw Southerner, and Tony Yayo, the hype-man. Their debut Beg for Mercy went multi-platinum, and it seemed 50 could do no wrong.

But success was a double-edged sword. He left behind his musical roots, while his music never changed. The end-result was 2007’s Curtis, a stale reprise of his debut and his first commercial failure. G-Unit’s new album Terminate on Sight sticks to the same out-of-date blueprint.

He learned the wrong lesson from “I Get Money,” the only honest moment on Curtis. Since it was produced by a relative nobody, he figured T.O.S. wouldn’t need any big-name producers or collaborators either. Eminem and Dre are nowhere to be found, and their presence is sorely missed. The album has almost no memorable beats or melodies.

50 has always used beef for publicity — from “How to Rob” to last-year’s “showdown” with Kanye. This time around, he excommunicated Young Buck, easily the group’s second most accomplished rapper, for disloyalty. But not only are Buck’s four verses some of the album’s best, the whole situation is eerily similar to Game’s banishment in 2005.

That’s the album’s fundamental problem — we’ve heard it all before. 50 is a gangster with a heart of gold. Lloyd Banks, dubbed the Punch line King, is reduced to a dispenser of bland similes: “Drink like an uncle, smoke like a Rasta / ball like a superstar, tough like a boxer.” And the less said about Tony Yayo’s rapping the better.

In reality, 50 can’t be a gangster anymore - he’s worth nine figures. Somewhere a hungry rapper is thinking he might be something to eat.

50 Cent -- How to Rob

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