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50 Cent: Before I Self Destruct

B-
B-

50 Cent

Album: Before I Self Destruct
Label: Shady/Aftermath

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50 Cent’s popularity has been on a steep decline since his massive 2003 debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, but he’s doggedly stuck to the same formula, alternating cynical R&B-inflected slow jams with unapologetic odes to bloodshed, murder, and drug-dealing. “I’m far from eccentric / I’m so psychotic,” he raps gleefully on the album-opening “The Invitation,” setting the tone for an extended love letter to mindless aggression. On “So Disrespectful,” he sprays venom in every direction: It’d almost be easier to list the people he doesn’t insult than the ones he does. (Needless to say, a G-Unit reunion with Young Buck and The Game doesn’t appear likely.) He sounds hungry and engaged for the first time in ages on “So Disrespectful,” “Stretch,” and “Then Days Went By,” but as usual, the slow jams find him sounding listless and bored, and the guest appearances are uniformly dire. Eminem trots out yet another tired reference to Christopher Reeve on the rapid-fire “Psycho” (Oh, Eminem! Such a naughty, naughty 37-year-old!) while R. Kelly further sabotages an already weak track with unfortunate feces-based metaphors on “Could’ve Been You.” If Destruct qualifies as a pleasant surprise, it’s only because 50 Cent’s last few releases set the bar so low. Still, for the first time since The Massacre, it’s once again intermittently fun to root for the bad guy.