When we first met 50 Cent in the late ‘90s, he was a cocky battle rapper with a tongue as sharp as the weapons he carried. After enduring a shooting that was damn near impossible to survive, Fif reemerged as the bionic man that we’ve known for most of his mainstream career. His knack for tough-guy-talk to the tune of floor-shaking beats left Curtis at the forefront of a movement that started before him, but he managed to own midway. Fast-forward to Corporate 50: the man who’s more Hollywood than Hollis, more Vitamin Water than quarter water. That’s fine – the natural progression for successful rappers these days is to become a brand. The conflict comes when the demand for more music does. That is where Before I Self Destruct arrives at a screeching halt – we’ve witnessed business suit 50 for a while now; we’re expecting a corporate thug, but we’re left with the school bully once again.
Self Destruct opens with “The Invitation”, where Curtis juggles threats and braggadocios with lines like "All I do is stunt now; I’m so Maybach / there I go frontin’ again; I meant to say 'laid back'." While 50’s sense of humor bleeds through the entire work, it’s more arrogance than anything else. That’s 50 Cent though, and that’s what we’ve come to expect from him. However, for a multi-millionaire like Curtis Jackson, it wouldn’t have hurt to end his four-album stint on Interscope with some grown ass man Rap. Instead we’re given a collection of songs that are more b-sides than hits, with the exception of an obvious few like “So Disrespectful” his usual “shit list” track, the hard-hitting “Crime Wave,” the Eminem-owned “Psycho,” and the super-Poppy “Baby By Me” featuring Ne-Yo. Other tracks like the smooth “Do You Think About Me” and the “Rapper’s Delight” interpolated “Gangsta’s Delight” remind us that Fif is still one of the best to do this.
The rest of Before I Self Destruct is sadly underwhelming, with songs like the silly “Hold Me Down” where 50 is making kissing noises and using outdated phrases like “twist the indo.” Speaking of outdated phrases – “I Got Swag” is home to lines about diamonds, anal sex, and shopping sprees, while “Get It Hot” rattles off with the neurotic hook "Get it, get it, get it, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot." The upside though, which is pretty much consistent with all of 50’s albums, is that the singles are great enough to carry the low points in the album.
Like most of 50 Cent’s career, we’re not entirely sure if he’s kidding or not. Just two years ago he lost a sales battle with Kanye West and moved his release date way past The Blueprint 3 so he may very well be aware of his own limitations. Regardless of the motive, Before I Self Destruct leaves us wondering what’s next for 50 Cent, and if that was his sole intention, then mission accomplished.
Please note: HipHopDX's original serviced tracklisting claimed "The Invitation" was produced by DJ Premier. The error has been corrected. The song is produced by Ty Fyffe. We apologize for the error.