For as long as he's been making albums, rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has been criticized severely for his hardcore, extremely gangsta lyrics that have seemed to have been at least partially responsible for New York City's increased murder rate over the past five years. Well, I am very proud to say that with the re-release of his fourth album, "Before I Self Destruct," and at the age of 34, Mr. Jackson seems to have finally matured, and it is evident in the lyrical content of his new album.
The album begins with a track called "The Invasion." It is one of the riskier songs that 50 has attempted in his career, as it is written from the perspective of a German soldier in 1939 right before he and his fleet storm into Poland. The tale will leave you on the edge of your seat, as you are left wondering until the end whether the soldier, known by his code name of Banksn Yayo, will betray his platoon before what he feels to be an immoral act.
Following that is a track called "Then the Days Went By," which acts as somewhat of a sequel to the opener. In it, Banksn has begun to long for his high school sweetheart, whom he misses more and more with each growing day. One of Mr. Cent's best lyrics also comes to fruition towards the end of the song, when he says "Baby I miss you so much, I cannot wait to see you again/And at this point I do not care if it is in Hell or Heaven."
"So Disrespectful" is the "diss" track of the album, in which Jackson severely criticizes his peers in the Rap industry for their betrayal of young black women in both their music videos and their song lyrics. He claims that these women deserve to be treated as nothing short of princesses, while pointing out that people failed to recognize the irony of his "Disco Inferno" video many years ago, putting him in the same category as the people he so deeply despises.
"Psycho" is another piece of social commentary, this time going into a story revolving around the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide in June of 2007. It is rapped as narrative that discusses what happened in the final days leading up to the tragedy, and how the pieces all added up by the fateful Friday night. Eminem is also featured, as he raps in the final verse of the song, from Benoit's perspective as he is carrying out the murders. It is very similar to his infamous song "Kim," however, all of the references to his ex-wife have been replaced with the name "Daniel."
"Hold Me Down" is a scathing critique of former President Bush, who he claims set his people back for countless generations with his blatant ignoring of racial equality laws, and not doing nearly enough to help the New Orleans community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The song uses a brilliant sample of Kanye West's "George Bush doesn't care about black people" line from four years ago as a loop in the chorus.
"Crime Wave" is an analysis on New York's alarming crime increase over the past few months, while he goes after David Patterson for what he believes to be an insufficient job of protecting the people in the city that never sleeps. He also is critical of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto IV, with his biggest problem being that the game takes place in a fictionalized version of the Big Apple.
"Stretch" acts as somewhat of a public service announcement, as he reminds kids that it is important to stretch all muscles well prior to engaging in physical activity. The song has an elementary school level rhythmatic feel to it, with a catchy chorus that uses a prominent sample of the song "Hokey Pokey."
"Strong Enough" acts as a sequel of sorts to "Stretch," as Mr. Jackson gives an almost spoken word level of tips and tricks on how to become a better weightlifter, and how much exercise is recommended in one's daily fitness routine. The third and final verse is a warning against the dangers of using steroids, with grotesquely detailed accounts of the side effects of the drug.
"Get it Hot" is a surprising, collaborative duet with famous cook Martha Stewart, as the two give advice on how to properly cook that Thanksgiving (which is right around the release date of the album) turkey to perfection, while making sure that the entire bird is cooked evenly throughout.
"Gangsta's Delight" is Mr. Jackson's cover of Sugarhill Gang's renowned hip-hop classic, "Rapper's Delight." What makes the song even more amazing is that Curtis raps the entire long song all in one take, a fact made evident by his hilarious exclamation at the end of the song of "Damn man, I can't breathe!" (It should be noted to parents that that quote is the reason for the album's cover bearing a Parental Advisory sticker.)
"Baby by Me" is an ode to all of the baby-daddy's out in the urban projects to stay with the women bearing their children, and how important it is for an infant child to grow up with a sense of family and unity. The second verse also lashes out against the growing number of abortions, saying that women should not be pressured in any way, shape, or form to receive an operation which he perceives to be the equivalent of murder.
The next track is "OK, You're Right," which is a bashful admission by Mr. Jackson to all of the faults he has committed over the years, including forgetting to floss on certain occasions, once missing church because he slept through his alarm clock, and not being able to donate as much money to his local Jews for Jesus program due in part to the economy. The song takes place in a church confessional, with Kazaam the Rapping Genie making a guest appearance as the priest.
Finally, the album closes with "Could've Been You," an ode to all of the people close to Mr. Jackson who passed in between the release of Curtis and this album. While Jackson remains strong when mentioning Pimp C and Tim Russert, he begins to break down by the third verse when he begins to talk about Reverend Jerry Fallwell. It is truly one of the biggest tearjerker's since Sophie's Choice, and is a must listen for all fans and critics alike.
The album is scheduled to be re-released in February 32, 2010, so Happy April Fool's Day.
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