I don’t like the way he do it
There’s a moment in this latest taped missive where 50 Cent looks meaningfully into the camera and says, “This is what money does.” Well, yeah. The entire issue between 50 Cent and Young Buck appears to stem from some money that 50 Cent lent Young Buck to pay his taxes. It’s that boring. During the extended fifteen-minute version of the taped conversation between 50 and Buck, that’s nearly all of what they’re talking about: that tax money that Buck owes 50. Buck keeps talking about how he’s trying to get a tour together so he can make enough money to pay 50 back. 50 gets pissy with Buck for not paying him that money and for talking shit in interviews about unpaid royalties. And somewhere in there, Buck cries. And now, the whole sad and sordid story behind that unpaid debt is all over the internet. Money has broken up plenty of groups before, but I can’t think of any other situation in which we, the public, have been allowed to hear every last dispiriting step of those escalating problems. 50’s right; owing somebody money fucks you up and makes you say and do dumb things. Buck freaked out in some interview and said that 50 actually owed him money, which understandably pissed 50 off, and so 50 eventually kicked Buck out of his group. That’s basically the extent of the story. But Buck cried, and that’s all anybody’s going to remember.
The two snippets of the taped conversation that 50 initially leaked make for a truly squirmy, uncomfortable listen. Buck starts out by promising that he’s incapable of making dis records about 50, whether or not 50 kicks him out of the group. Then he says, “I know I’m out of line. I don’t want you to dismember me from the group, honestly, period.” And then: “I’m just tryna make you happy.” When he starts talking about that tax money, he gets increasingly frothy and upset. “I’m confused a little bit,” he says, and a tremor creeps into his voice. And then he cries, which we hear on the tape as him saying “pssh,” or maybe sneezing, a whole bunch of times. 50 rarely interjects on Buck’s ramble, and when he does, he sounds like a bored middle-school assistant principal dealing with a problem kid, all theatrical patience and condescension. Buck sounds like a pathetic nutcase, 50 sounds like an asshole, and we never should’ve heard this tape.
Buck’s expulsion from G-Unit started out pretty amicable, at least in the sense that nobody got shot in the ass outside a radio station. “My Interview,” Buck’s first track addressing the story, is as much a mea culpa as it is a dis: “I do make mistakes like any other man / Shit, I recoup off an album quicker than you can,” meaning Buck knows he’s kind of a fuckup but thinks 50 should keep him around because he’s still capable of making money. That’s basically what Buck says in this video, taken from some live show Buck did. Somebody in the crowd screams “G-Unit.” Buck says, “Fuck G-Unit,” but then he elaborates: he’s a real dude, people like real dudes, a real dude like him should be cherished, 50 heard some comments he made and misinterpreted them. (He also says a bunch of disingenuous stuff about 50 owing him money and how he can get back into drug-dealing any time he wants, but whatever.)
Then 50 leaks that tape and everything goes all to hell. Give 50 credit: with that taped conversation, he might’ve embarrassed Buck worse than any rapper has ever embarrassed another, maybe worse even than Jay-Z putting Prodigy’s dance-class picture on the Summer Jam screen. Buck’s response-track, “The Taped Conversation,” is straight defensiveness: “Record my phone call when I spoke from the heart / That was a year ago; this was a joke from the start.” The increasingly ridiculous Game, who can never resist an opportunity to bash 50, swooped in with a quick cheerleading assist that I can’t imagine Buck wanted, rapping over the same track and everything: “Get that shit off your chest, nigga! Shed a tear or two, man!” Then 50 releases a video where he mentions all sorts of goofy shit Buck’s done: running up huge car-rental bills even though he already owns a whole lot of cars, making fun of Lil Wayne for dating Trina when he was in love with her. So yeah, Buck looks pretty bad now. But 50 looks like someone who tapes all his conversations and publicly airs out all the issues he has with former friends whenever it becomes financially opportune. Neither one ends up looking good, and we can trace the whole messy story just by typing “Buck” into the Nah Right search function. (Plus: Bonus Buckshot live clips!)
Sometimes I wonder if blanket internet coverage of every developing rap beef isn’t having the same effect on rap that the gaffe-obsessed 24-hour news-cycle is having on presidential elections. Whenever anybody fucks up, we immediately know exactly what happens and how bad it was. And that can be a lot of fun; God knows I always gleefully clamp onto this shit. But it also makes it pretty impossible for anyone to maintain a mystique. Buck isn’t the Southern livewire (or, in any case, he isn’t just that); he’s the guy who can’t handle his money and who cries and begs when he loses his spot in a fading rap crew, leading to the funniest Byron Crawford blog post in forever. And 50’s the asshole who points and laughs when it happens. 50 can win this little dispute and still come out looking pretty detestable.
Buck, meanwhile, would do well to focus on Starbucks, the hilariously named group he’s got going with fellow Nashville rapper and major-label refugee All $tar. If this first track is any indication, he still sounds great talking shit over urgent burbling synth-beats, and regional stars generally don’t have to deal with this silliness anyway.