50 is getting richer by the second it seems. His latest effort is aptly titled "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." It is a film and soundtrack based on his life. From love songs to party tracks all the way down to gritty street records, 50 shows us everything here, and he brings along some back-up.
Long-time comrades Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck are obvious partners in rhyme. They each drop solo cuts and assist others on posse collaborations. Buck and Yayo keep up their gritty rhymes over gritty beats. Banks' verses are filled with the witty punch-lines and clever similes he is known for and manages to steal the show on various occasions. His infectious chorus on "You Already Know" and his delivery on various tracks add charisma and skill where it's needed. The old members of the crew prove they are still lethal ingredients to the G-Unit potion.
New-comer Spider Loc gets his chance to shine here as well. His wordplay is sharp, and his persona is intriguing as a gangster with depth and skill. This West Coast emcee shows G-Unit is still reppin' for the West without Game. For many, this is the first chance to hear Spider, and he makes sure it's a good first impression.
Aside from fresh new emcees, there are also new faces to the G-Unit camp. Although established, some display new sides. For starters Mase shows us Murda is back, M.O.P remains as gritty as ever and the infamous Mobb Deep give us the style we've grown accustomed to from them. Backed by a new label and sound, they manage to blend in old with the new creatively. They all add in unique flavors to the G-Unit concoction here, especially on "I Don't Know Officer." This song serves as a reflection of G-Unit's new roster and is a testament to the different styles that blend to make the click strong.
Aside from guest appearances, 50 holds his own weight. Offering his usual melodic and catchy hooks and strengthening tracks with his verses as he makes his presence felt. When solo, he makes the track potent, and although he may be lacking skill in some rhymes ("We Both Think Alike" for instance) he makes up for it in flow. Is that a good thing? It can be, but sometimes Fif relies too much on sing-song hooks, which was Ja Rule's downfall. He sounds more like R&B singer Mario than The Biz (as he sings "...and you say he's just a friend.") but the heavy crooning doesn't help his album. Nevertheless, he shines on "Hustler's Ambition" and the intelligently introspective "Talk About Me."
50 could have created an epic album based on his life. With his label mates, it could have been stronger with more depth as well. Still, how can we argue against 50's formula? It's working, and he's getting richer. However, this album seems more like a mix tape than an official release. G-Unit fans should enjoy this and take it as a taste of what's to come, but it fails to be as exceptional as it could have been with such an all-star cast.