G-UNIT MASTERMIND 50 CENT
DELIVERS SECOND LP
By Evan McGarvey
March 8, 2005
MUSIC R EVIE-W A * N -
With a past that includes multiple gunshot
wounds to the mouth, various broken record
contracts, an incredible New York mix-tape
career and 11 million copies of Get Rich or Die
Tryin' sold, it's possible
to forgive 50 Cent's occa- 50 Cent
sional self-indulgence and The Massacre
his second proper album, Shady/Aftermath
Crazy insane or insane crazy? After the
past few months, it's hard to tell if 50 Cent
is the next generation of the Rakim/B.I.G./
Jay-Z New York lineage or simply a man
whose unprecedented success has rendered
him paranoid and on the verge of self-
50's chameleon flow - part Queens rough-
neck, part injury-induced Southern drawl
- keeps cliched guns-and-ammo joints like
"Outta Control" and "This Is 50" above water.
Gangsta rap feeds on each artist's street cred-
ibility, so when he raps, "A lil' nigga hurt
his arm, lettin off that Eagle, you know me
/ Black on black Bentley, big ol' black 9 / I'll
clap your monkey-ass, yeah black on black
crime," well, you try and argue with him.
According to the man himself, 50 Cent
recorded a body of over 60 songs from which
he chose the 22 that make up The Massacre.
What's troubling about this 2Pac-like work
ethic is that only about half of the album's
tracks deserve to see the light of day. The
first two singles, "Disco Inferno" and "Candy
Shop," are both flaccid crossover jams with
requisite pithy string sections and mediocre
Indian flutes, respectively. Being the godfa-
ther of G-Unit doesn't seem to be helping his
artistic output, either.
While he's never quite the perfect gen-
tleman, he gets downright nasty toward the
women on the aptly named "Get in My Car"
and makes some Sylvia Plath-esque death
wishes on the murky "I'm Supposed To
Die Tonight." For someone who wants so
desperately to join the rap hall of fame, 50
has made The Massacre out to be the typi-
cal achievement of post-Golden Age rap:
pockets of weak musical filler buffered by
As on Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 reaches
musical peaks when he cuts loose and delivers
unfettered blitzkriegs of rage, party revelry
or some combination of both. Though it may
lead to death by mix tape roasting, he calls
"You are so dead, nobody scuffs my loafers."
out both Jadakiss and Fat Joe for working
with G-Unit/Shady archenemy Ja Rule on the
relentless steel-drum and synth-fueled "Piggy
Bank." As 50 launches hallucinogenic barb
after barb and proposes death to Jada, Fat Joe,
Shyne and Nas, the beat, seemingly fueled by
pure malice and ecstasy, flies over listeners'
heads like a squall of fighter jets.
Worn-out Motown vocal loops on "Ski
Mask Way" recall 50's earthy, delightfully
villainous pre-Aftermath record days and
help to salve the pain of the bloated subur-
ban-raps of "So Amazing."
Sometimes he strays from the autobio-
graphical and taps into emotional narratives.
Unfortunately, he only does it once on The
Massacre, and "A Baltimore Love Thing"
might be too oblique for the listeners expect-
ing boilerplate verses.
The week of The Massacre's release, G-
Unit rookie and Dr. Dre protege The Game,
who coincidently has a multi-platinum debut
album at the top of the Billboard charts,
bashed 50 Cent on-air before 50 subsequent-
ly ex-communicated him from G-Unit. Later
that week, members of The Game's clique
launched shootings at two venues where 50
was reportedly present.
Even for a man raised on death and seem-
ingly unafraid of the afterlife, 50 Cent's
approach to mortality is downright shocking.
For all of Eminem's beef-squashing diploma-
cy on "Like Toy Soldiers," a single from his
own recent album, Encore, 50 just seems to
fear destruction that much less.
He's turning on everyone in sight, seeming
to mock mentor Eminem on "My Toy Soldier"
and picking fights with whomever he wants.
As with most neo-gangsta rap, 50 preaches a
lifestyle he really doesn't live anymore. But
he sure seems willing to start a war. Here's
hoping The Massacre will become a mid-
dling, if not completely solid, entry into 50's
catalogue and not his death warrant.
,MEN l Hit revitalizes prime-time soap
By Doug Wernert Strong), the dead woman who serves as
October 8, 2004 the narrator for the series and for her
friends' eccentric day-to-day lives. This
T____P__EV ___EW __________ cast of peculiar women all have their fair
share of problems.
"Desperate Housewives" isn't your First, and most importantly, is Susan
ordinary television program. For one Mayer (Teri Hatcher), the divorced mom
thing, a central char- looking to get with the new neighborhood
acter kills herself in hunk (James Denton). While this seems
the opening minutes Desperate to be the primary storyline, a second plot
of the first episode. Housewives line, featuring an overly sophisticated
While this might mother (Marcia Cross, "Melrose Place")
seem tragic to some, Sundays at 9 p.m. who drives her family crazy, is equally
the nosy next-door ABC entertaining. Whether it's Gabrielle Solis
neighbor's reaction is (Eva Longoria), the sex-crazed model
relief that now she doesn't have to return who hooks up with her gardener, or the
the woman's blender. It's this tone that former career woman (Felicity Huffman,
establishes the backbone for "Desperate "Sportsnight") who is now overwhelmed
Housewives," a new comedy-drama that by her four kids, each of Mary Alice's
doesn't take itself seriously and uses its friends are completely different and lik-
humorous writing and outlandish atmo- able in their own way.
sphere to create one of this season's most The show manages to usher in fresh
surprising, unique programs. comedic material without going so
"Housewives" might be best described far over-the-top that the gags become
as "Arrested Development" meets "Sex inane. Sure, the flashbacks of Susan's
and The City," as the show pivots around enemy Brit (Nicollette Sheridan) seduc-
several married women who are frustrat- ing everyone from the cable guy to the
ed for one reason or another. Tying it all neighborhood priest are silly, but this
together is Mary Alice Young (Brenda storytelling device moves the plots along
and helps the viewer keep all the women
straight. Meanwhile, the men are pres-
ent simply to either frustrate, annoy or,
in some cases, intrigue the women. The
originality of the gimmicks and situa-
tions feel fresh enough to effectively
straddle the always thin line between
nervous laughter and frustrating absur-
dity. Gabrielle mowing the lawn in her
evening gown so her husband won't find
out about her affair is downright hilari-
ous, not to mention eerily dark. After
all, they're desperate for a reason.
Both the characters and the humor
are given ample time to develop and
that's the powerful combination that
made "Desperate Housewives" the top-
rated show in the country last week. The
group conversations they have scream
"Sex and The City," but these are kept
to a minimum so the show can develop
its own personality. The great American
icon of suburbia is the real target in the
midst of all the joking and conspiracies,
and the show hits its target with aplomb.
It's already off to a tremendous start and
as long as the show keeps the originality
and the sex appeal flowing, viewers will
continue to tune in.
Damn, that's one fine-ass neighborhood.