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Get him, Buck
I speculated about this a year ago, and it took a while, but it finally happened: 50 Cent booted Young Buck out of G-Unit. 50 broke the news on Hot 97 yesterday morning, which is the exact same way he booted Game out of the group three years ago. 50 even made the parallel himself: “You can look at that and see that’s Game all the way.” Of course, the whole Game thing happened differently. An unsuspecting Game was across town on another radio station when he heard the news, and when he and his lackeys tried to storm Hot 97, someone ended up getting shot in the ass. Since his own excommunication, Buck has been decidedly more quiet. He’s hasn’t commented yet, and the terms of his exile are different. According to 50, Buck is no longer a part of the G-Unit group, but he’ll keep recording for the G-Unit label. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. It could, of course, mean that 50 just intends to keep Game on the shelf for the foreseeable future, a stunt he’s pulled with plenty of G-Unit artists in the past. Or it could mean that Buck will get to function in relative autonomy, finally freeing him of the G-Unit association that’s held him down for so long. If that’s the case, 50’s only keeping Buck on his label because he knows that Buck is one of the only guys left on G-Unit with any hope of selling another record. Buck is probably good and pissed right now, but I’m guessing he’ll come out of this ahead. Either way, it was a long time coming.
Another thing that happened that day that 50 kicked Game out of the group: Buck called Hot 97 to apologize to 50 for ever associating with Game, even offering to fuck Game up if 50 wanted. Buck’s long been like that: an enthusiastic foot-soldier for 50, someone happy to play knucklehead henchman to 50’s calculating supervillain. But Buck’s also the best rapper on G-Unit, the one who’s routinely sounded fiercer and hungrier and more animated than 50. Straight Outta Cashville, Buck’s debut, arguably eclipses 50’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ as the single best album G-Unit has ever released. Last year’s Buck the World, meanwhile, never came close to touching its predecessor, but it was still a solid and enjoyable long-player, something I can’t say about Curtis. Around the same time Buck the World came out, Buck started making statements that deviated from the G-Unit party line: criticizing Tony Yayo for slapping a kid, claiming he’d made peace with G-Unit’s various foes, calling himself the clean-up man. But after 50 made noises about cleaning house, Buck went back to his supporting role with gusto. During the week that 50 hosted Rap City last year, Buck seemed to revel in his secondary status, screaming out vague threats to G-Unit nemeses (“You can’t tell me nothing, Kanye!”) while the rest of the guys in the group stood around uncomfortably. I guess discontent season rolled around again: over the past few months, Buck’s done plenty to annoy 50. First he appeared onstage with recent 50 target Lil Wayne, and then he said some stuff in an interview about never having received a royalty check. Apparently 50’s finally had enough, and now Buck’s gone.
Best case scenario: Buck will now get to realize his potential as a powerhouse of a regional rapper. He recently started Cashville Records, his own label, and he signed old Tupac associates the Outawz and C-Bo. If Buck’s trying to rebrand himself as a Southern Tupac, it’s not a bad idea; he’s got that same kind of rough, barely contained energy, like he’s just seconds away from randomly spraying his disgust in all directions. Buck the World may or may not have been constrained by commercial expectations: girl songs, weed songs, that kind of thing. But if Buck ends up making an album full of snarling hard-charging fight songs, if he expands the first third of Buck the World out to album length, I’ll be a happy guy. I’m also relishing the possibility of a Buck/50 feud; 50 has a tough time making a clean and peaceful break with anyone who ever said anything bad about him. But even if 50 just locks Buck away in a vault somewhere, at least one good thing will come out of this: I can now comfortably hate G-Unit. That never used to be the case. For every dumb-as-shit video and headline-grubbing publicity move and asshole CEO threat 50 would make, I couldn’t quite stay mad at anyone who had a rapper as powerful as Buck in his stable. But now everyone good on G-Unit is gone, and there’s nothing stopping me from saying that fuck these guys. M.O.P. got their release, Prodigy is locked up, and now Buck is gone, so G-Unit is just a thoroughly diminished 50 Cent and a couple of rappers I couldn’t give a fuck about. 50 might still give funny interviews, and he might still have a few great songs like “I Get Money” in him, but he and his crew are dead to me now. I have nothing further invested in them, and that feels good.