…So buy his album
The discussion has shifted. All talk of 50 Cent’s upcoming album Curtis seems to revolve around the album’s first-week sales rather than whether the record will be any good or not. That’s understandable; most of us have come to accept that Curtis will be straight garbage, “I Get Money” notwithstanding. Songs from the album keep leaking, those leaks keep sucking, and 50 can barely stay on the radio. Nothing seems to be working for the guy, and I almost feel bad about how much I’m enjoying watching him fall apart. His G-Unit underlings released a bunch of total bricks, so he told Vibe that he’d be happy kicking all of them (except Yayo) out of the crew. MTV put a a whole bunch of rappers above him on their hottest-MCs list, and he threw a bitchfit, saying in some interview that the network could suck his dick. His shitty video with Robin Thicke somehow leaked, and he threw an even bigger tantrum, rampaging through his office, ripping a TV off the wall and throwing his phone out the window. Now he’s spitting mad at his own label, talking shit about them in interviews and songs, threatening to leave the label as soon as he can. Curtis is set to come out on the same day as Kanye West’s Graduation, and it’s shaping up to be a really interesting battle, a total good-vs.-evil art-vs.-commerce thing. 50 is grabbing that hype and running with it, pulling dumb shit like challenging Kanye to a debate on 106 & Park. Still he can’t seem to escape his own negative buzz, so now he’s going back to his old record-selling techniques: dissing people right before his album comes out. A huge part of the deafening hype over Get Rich or Die Tryin’ surrounded 50’s beef with Ja Rule, and I remember being really amped about it at the time; finally someone was willing to come out, naming names and talking shit, exposing a horrible rapper for making horrible rap music. Before The Massacre, 50 tried the same thing with Fat Joe and Jadakiss, but it didn’t quite work; he had no real reason to be going after those guys, and he attacks on them were pretty much without substance. For a minute there, I actually thought Game’s The Documentary might outsell The Massacre. Then, of course, 50 kicked Game out of G-Unit, sparking a beef, calling a truce, and then going back to beefing within a few months. It worked; The Massacre got its buzz, and it ended up selling like crazy. So now 50’s going back to shit-talking, and his newest foe is rap’s biggest target, Lil Wayne.
50 debuted “Part Time Lover,” his Wayne dis, on Kay Slay’s radio show last night, and supposedly it’s just a mixtape song; it won’t be on the album. Right now, it only exists on the radio in a shitty, near-unlistenable radio rip full of drops and rewinds. The funny thing about the song is that it’s not even a song about Wayne; it’s a halfassed attempt at a love song, and all of 50’s lines about Wayne are total digression. It’s like 50 is talking to some girl but he gets so distracted thinking about Wayne that he has to go on a little rant before getting back on subject: “It’s more than your body, baby, damn it’s your brain / You make me wanna kiss you like Baby kiss Wayne / And make you call me daddy like Baby do Wayne / Damn, that shit sound gay, it’s insane / I guess that’s the price the little ninja pay for fame / But baby dim the lights now…” And then he doesn’t mention Wayne again; his aside is done, and he’s back to getting into some chick’s pants (“I’m hetereosexual / I wanna get next to you”). Later, he throws a few more pointless jabs at Fat Joe and Jada and makes a few utterly pointless and hilarious references to other people’s songs: “This is why I’m hot / Yeah, this is why I’m hot / We could party like a rockstar, nonstop.” The song is terrible, of course. 50 raps in his “I Need Love” voice over a pillowy R&B beat, something he’s done over and over again since “21 Questions.” When 50 centers a whole song around dissing someone, he tends to at least make sure that the song sounds hard and bombastic. With this one, it’s like he didn’t mean to do it and he couldn’t help himself. And of course he went for the gay thing. Wayne and Baby have, after all, been photographed kissing each other, and that’s been more than enough to put Wayne at the center of rap’s gay panic. It’s sort of funny that 50 doesn’t go any deeper with his attack than a typical Nah Right commenter.
50 is doing this to drum up attention, and it’s working; I’m sitting here writing an entry about it, after all. It might lead nowhere. A little while ago, 50 called Wayne a whore for jumping on absolutely anyone’s song, but I have a hard time believing that Wayne would really be insulted by that. (Wayne on “‘S’ on my Chest,” from the DJ Khaled album: “I’m a whore / You know that I’m a whore.”) And Wayne’s never really engaged much in beef. When Gillie Da Kid launched a huge campaign against Wayne last year, Wayne mostly ignored him. And Wayne’s long had a contentious relationship with his former Cash Money labelmates, but for every song he’s done bashing Juvenile or B.G., he’s done another about how badly he misses the other Hot Boys and how he still loves them. Wayne is like Cam’ron; his style is too stoned and free-associative and interior to really work in the context of a dis track. 50, meanwhile, is content to play playground bully, pointing and laughing rather than actually engaging his opponents. And “Part Time Lover” feels like the product of frustration. 50 was mad at being put down so low on MTV’s hottest-MCs list, so he took aim at the guy on top. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 50 put this song out only a few days after Wayne leaked his first track with Kanye, 50’s release-date rival. 50 hasn’t come straight out and attacked Kanye; he’s even, as Elliott Wilson reported today, appearing alongside Kanye on the cover of Rolling Stone. But 50’s being sneaky about it, taking digs at the people around Kanye, baiting him and hoping for a blowup. I’d love to see Wayne come back blasting and just eviscerate 50, but it’s probably not going to happen. Instead, this will most likely be merely one more stop on 50’s long journey toward obsolescence. I wonder how long it’ll take him to attack every other rapper on that hottest-MCs list.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 17, 2007