The Reintroduction of Curtis Jackson, Part 1: Return of the (Street) King
First off, Insert Rakim Allah Lyrics Here. Ya’ll good? Bet Now that thats out the way, lets get to this new Curtis shit and the curious reactions I’ve noticed over time.
For the people who follow or checked for this tumblr, you know I mainly focus on street-oriented Hip-Hop; I’m not really looking for touchy-feely bullshit in my rap music. As such, I’ve always identified with Curtis’ music in a way most people have never really understood. I understand he isn’t an amazing lyricist (his flow is off-the-charts amazing tho- seriously, quite a few mainstream struggle lyricists would kill to ride a beat like Curtis), but that was never the appeal of his music in my opinion. To me, I always viewed his music from his desire to do things HIS WAY- he tried to do it the industry way, and the industry turned on him (yea, that includes the NYC-area that oh so wants the world to believe he made them turn against each other… I’m sleep doe) and yet he not only remained successful, he placed himself in a true boss position— that rarefied air that exists only for the Beast of Burden, the Shiny Suit Man, The Five Star Dragonball, and Donda’s Baby Boy. Basically, he has the ability to move when he wants to move. Its a position most musicians would kill to be in.
But while the aforementioned are handcuffed by A.) Sponsor Obligation, B.) Label Situation, or C.) Artistic “Expectation,” Curtis is handcuffed by his overwhelming success. GRODT is truly one of the last truly Classic albums released (and I mean that- outside of Late Registration, can you name another consensus classic album from 2003- now?… Go head… Thought so) and the Massacre, while overloaded with too many ideas, continued that success.
As platinum album after platinum album was released from his Camp, it seemed as though he could do no wrong. My consistent theory is that Curtis shaved years off his actual musical career by attempting to feed his entire audience- 25 G-Unit Radio mix tapes, multiple Whoo Kid tapes, and ensuring that his ENTIRE label had a chance to succeed is an enormous strain on your the amount of truly creative music you can create. This is why, despite excellent releases such as War Angel, Sincerely Yours, Southside, Forever King, the SMS Audio releases aka Don’t Fuck This Up Curtis (*Self high Fives*), and the 2012 Big 10 & Lost Tape, Curtis seems almost amused by the internet apathy towards his new music. In his own words on “Body On It” (Big 10, 2012), “ I won too much in front of you.”
When I read sites such as Thisis50, Elliot’s Radar, and Ahsmi’s crackhead infested wasteland, I tend to notice the same three critiques from the armchair A&R inside all of us:
1. (Insert some asinine comment about MMG/YMCMB/GOOD music here)
2. He needs to rap with (Insert commercially successful artist here).
3. We Want (Insert Power of a Dollar/Mixtape/GRODT) Version of Curtis back!
Rarely is the actual critique on the released music itself, and in most cases, the discussion quickly devolves into people making gross assumptions about how Curtis can be #1 again. Whats lost in this discussion (and please use that term as loosely as possible) is that stylistically, the music has remained solid, with continuous flashes of the wit, humor, and arrogance that Made 50 Cent and his G-Unit brand famous to begin with. Unfortunately, his previous (commercial) success is how he is judged musically, and with him being essentially the only one of the aforementioned group of Hip-Hop Titans who still releases Free Music for his fans, the law of Diminishing Returns has already taken ahold of his career, despite the actual level of music being solid to great overall.
(Note: Despite all that, one Criticism is valid, and Pusha T explains it quite eloquently HERE. )
All that being said (sorry, but like I said, I’m back like I left my Wallet niggas…), lets talk about 50’s more recent musical output. While his musical counterparts in NY continue to find inspiration from the South or Overseas (or sometimes BOTH, smh…), Curtis, like any good hustler, set up shop on another block— in this case, the Bay Area Hip-Hop Scene. With Remixes from everyone from YG to OG’s E-40 & Too $hort, Curtis successfully reintroduced himself to the West Coast, and his remix of Loverance’s “Up” getting played all over country, he has quietly reintroduced his voice to nation of children who have grown up with Kanye, Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj as their Radio One Go-Tos.
Now comes the hard part- getting those kids to listen to music that is fundamentally different from what they have grown up with.
Part II, which will include my review of 5 (Murder By Numbers) drops later tonight.