I have a statement to make. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is one of the most underrated rappers in existence. He changed the way artists make a name for themselves, and his debut album shook the rap game to its core.. Okay, now that you’re done laughing, hear me out.
His resume overpowers many rappers’ rap sheets [in the game]. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was a great album, as was Power of the Dollar (his Columbia debut, which was shelved after he was shot nine times but released in limited quantities after he blew up). Both infused witty, hardcore boasts with gritty street tales, laid over hard but bouncy beats.
While the movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’ wasn’t anything special, the soundtrack boasts some excellent work from 50. The Massacre wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as weak as many would like to believe. On the contrary, it proved 50′s ability to create pop-records and stay believably gangsta at the same time, something only few rappers have managed.
The one major misstep in his collection of work is Curtis, but even that album showcased a few gems, namely “Man Down” and “I Get Money.” His most recent album, Before I Self Destruct, was a decent effort. And while it’s true that he’s certainly not the rapper he once was, neither is music/business partner Eminem, and many regard Em as one of hip-hop’s elite.
And yes, 50 Cent did change the game. That technique Lil Wayne has adopted where he rhymes over other people’s beats on “mixtapes?” You probably wouldn’t be hearing those without 50, who took it to another level in the first years of the new millenium. He, Lloyd Banks, and (unfortunately) Tony Yayo formed G-Unit, rapping over original, sometimes even classic beats, made famous by other artists, to garner buzz. Their hardcore rhymes and witty boasts over hot tracks made them the best thing since, well, Eminem a few years earlier.
Nowadays, rappers like J Cole and Drake have dropped mixtapes that sound more like albums and have found immense success with this formula. Moment of truth: 50 Cent defined mixtape in the modern sense of the word, and he deserves credit for that.
50′s countless beefs have unfortunately overshadowed his career. While they were at once a part of his marketing plan, they have seemingly become his sole marketing plan when it comes to hip-hop (See Pimpin’ Curly and Officer Ricky).
In any case, 50 seems more like a businessman than a rapper nowadays, from his cheesy Vitamin Water marketing to his noble efforts with Street King. Regardless, throughout his career, two great albums, mixtapes that changed the game and other solid work cement 50′s status as a great rapper. Is he up there with Eminem, or even someone like Mos Def? Nah. Still, his status as le-G-G-G-endary should be known.