One of the biggest Hip Hop stories of 2014 was the G-Unit reunion. They made headway that caught the attention of everybody, including HipHopDX, who awarded the group “Comeback of the Year.” As the initial buzz began to quell, the Unit dropped The Beauty of Independence, and picked up where they’d left off with T-O-S (Terminate on Sight) in 2008. The addition of Kidd Kidd, and the cleared air between 50 Cent and Young Buck enabled a fresher sound than what fans had come to expect. All five members had spoken about the inevitability of a follow-up EP, and now it’s here.
The Beast is G-Unit was recorded the week after Summer Jam left the entire Hip Hop world taut with anticipation and found the group in 50’s mansion full of momentum. The spectacle signature G-G-G-G Unit! With Slowbucks getting his chain snatched in the background as Fif’s “What Up Gangsta” blared through stadium speakers. On the project, there is a great diversity of sound. Trap stuff (“I’m Grown”), boom-bap (“Doper Than My Last One”), and without a doubt the expected club banger (“Bring My Bottles”). The core four members each have songs that they carry individually, with Kidd Kidd sprinkled in accordingly. On “I’m Grown,” 50 switches his style up a bit, opting for a more triplet-friendly flow. Buck carries the weight on “Bring My Bottles,” and Banks and Yayo shine on “Doper Than My Last One,” and “Ballin’” respectively.
Perhaps not coincidentally, each emcee’s moment in the sun is largely a reflection of their geographic regionality: Kidd Kidd and Buck drop that southern twang, and ride the beats with high energy flows. Yayo and Banks, meanwhile, are New Yorkers, and personify the East Coast vibe on the mic. Banks, specifically, stands out on “Doper Than My Last One,” with top-notch lyricism and delivery. Fif does a little bit of everything, as he should being the leader of the group. It appears he learned a lesson or two from the negative feedback that enveloped Animal Ambition.
While the EP has its great moments, it isn’t without its flaws. The verses on “Ballin’” are nearly overshadowed by an auto-tune hook sung by 50. “Bring My Bottles” on the other hand, is in-your-face, and a seemingly dated reversion to the early 2000s. Yet these moments only reinforce the notion of G-Unit’s newfound room for growth. In an era where the hot new artists are influenced by certain nuances and trends, G-Unit is adapting, through trial and error, largely through the sound they themselves refined during the aughts. And when it works, it works well.
The G-Unit sound has changed for the better. There is no one specific musical style that they emulate, which is both refreshing, and interesting from a critical standpoint. In just over six months, the Unit has released two major EPs, while shaking off the rust and deciding on a new direction. Everybody shows up, and 50 doesn’t steal the spotlight. The Beast is G-Unit is a solid EP with the potential to inspire an equally effective studio LP. If 2014 was any indication, G-Unit won’t be settling down anytime soon.