Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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50 Cent

  • Get Rich or Die Tryin' [Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2003] **
  • Guess Who's Back? [Full Clip, 2003] *
  • The Massacre [Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2005] A-
  • Curtis [Interscope, 2007] B
  • Before I Self Destruct [Aftermath, 2009] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Get Rich or Die Tryin' [Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2003]
Gets no cuter as his character unfolds ("What Up Gangsta," "Patiently Waiting") **

Guess Who's Back? [Full Clip, 2003]
Has a mouth on him, which with mix-tape beats he'd better ("U Not Like Me," "Rotten Apple") *

The Massacre [Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2005]
He's impossible to love but hard to resist, and though that may not be what he'd prefer, hard to resist will do. All the ugly gangsta lies are here, especially as regards the brutalization of women and the business of death. But they're incidental to the mood of the piece, which is friendly, relaxed, good-humored, and in the groove. As cute as Jay-Z if somewhat less intelligent, 50 throws a party that doesn't quit. I note for the record that Dr. Dre claims production on just two tracks while Eminem takes four, and that "Candy Shop" and "Just a Lil Bit" are both by "Scott Storch for Tuff Jew Productions." A-

Curtis [Interscope, 2007]
The first giveaway is a lie no less bold-faced with his Connecticut mansion on the trading block: "I ain't fresh out the hood, I still in the hood." The second is a truth all too revealing of the lost urgency of his aesthetic motivation: "I ain't even gotta rap now, life is made." What the two boil down to is that a parvenu mastering pop music for money has turned into a made man running on vanity. I find that this renders his expert trivialization of murder and such rather less piquant, and I think he does too--that an audacious formal delight has become routine. And though his sex talk retains some charm, Eminem's gross-out cameo casts a pall. Is Slim trying to one-up R. Kelly or just his D12 doxy Bizarre? B

Before I Self Destruct [Aftermath, 2009] Dud