"Let [white people] talk! What are they saying that is different from what their grandfathers said? What are they doing or trying to do to us that their grandfathers didn't try to do to us? But what is different is what we are doing to ourselves."
- Bill Cosby at Jesse Jackson's 33rd Annual Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference
In keeping with the Aftermath method of releasing the same CD every month, here's the latest and samest from one of, if not the biggest cancer on society today. I realize it's taboo to judge a book by its cover, but face it, you can make a fairly educated guess from reading the jacket now, can't you? Continuing the stunning visual theme of 2003's ultra blockbusting capitalist circle jerk Get Rich Or Die Trying, The Massacre features 50 in almost the exact same shirtless pose, only this time, the bullet shattered glass has been replaced with bad artistic enhancements of his muscles sketched over his torso in pencil, making the cover the most comedic use of fake muscles since "Weird" Al's Rambo parody in UHF.
But, if you require further indisputable proof that this is shockingly awful, you can size up the disc easily from the 40 second intro. To set the scene, a Fiddy fan-girl manages to unwrap a CD or, as they call it in the biz, a unit. She then reads a generic message from the big goon himself saying it's a Valentine's gift to all his fans and puts it in her stereo, after which she is immediately blown away screaming into the hands of death, marking the album's first, among many, instances of meaningless, psychotically homicidal gunfire. Yeah, you really know someone is tough if they have a recording of what guns sound like. Ooh... so scary. Anyway, the first actual track "In My Hood" is surprisingly well produced by C. Styles and Bang Out, who mix live strings, a funky bassline, relatively atypical Aftermath keyboards, and a hard hitting beat to good effect... but the lyrics, oh gawd, the lyrics. They highlight right off the bat exactly how divorced from reality anyone has to be who would take anything 50 Cent says seriously. At the exact moment as he sings "where I come from it ain't safe to have more than a eighth/ Niggas'll come to ya' place, put a gun in ya' face" in his usual lethargic mumble, Rolling Stone was at work placing him at number 19 on their list of this year's biggest money-makers, raking in $24.9 million last year alone. There's no way he lives anywhere near anyone who can touch him anymore, unless he's both stupid and crazy, which the $6 million profit from his Reebok sneakers says otherwise. You know he took the money and ran far, far away. But this song also contains the wonderful line "It ain't good to do good in my hood/ (sound of a gun taking a human life) You know not to do good now." What kind of message is that? There's no point in trying to be a decent human being so you better kill everyone who is. I gotta say I don't follow his logic here. Perhaps, 50, if you stopped killing everyone who tries to do good in your hood, metaphorically or not, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad place to be from.. whaddaya think? This disk is so full of revolting lines like these, I could only listen to it for 10 minutes at a time to avoid throwing my Discman through the window and puking black ooze from my now tainted soul, the ooze to be then rinsed down the gutter by the tears of angels forced to witness my suffering as a sacrifice for the sins 50 has cursed upon the Earth. Make no mistake; every word out of his mouth is a third eye blindfold.
Seriously, aside from the first C.Styles and Bang Out beat, Buckwild's brass based "I Don't Need 'Em," and, to an extent, the two Needlz tracks (though initially interesting, go absolutely nowhere) there is nothing redeeming about this album. It's pretty much all the same synth leads, bang-bang beats, and tired rhymes as every other Aftermath related project since The Eminem Show, which wasn't that great either, definitively marking the end of Shady's creativity and growth as an artist. But Em still has tangible, inarguable skills; he can say a lot of words very fast and make them rhyme and flow, whereas 50 Cent carries none of his redeeming moral dilemmas at the same time as boasting comparatively limited lyrical wit, imagination, and vocabulary. Every track is about how tough he is, his sexual prowess, how he likes to party, or all three. In and about that, he's blindly violent, racist, sexist, homophobic, greedy, egotistical, and uneducated. He's an extremely awful person inside and out (at least his 50 Cent persona), who profits from tainting the expectations of what African-Americans can make of themselves (thank you Bill Cosby for finally saying it), glorifying the acquisition of wealth and power at any cost and fanning the flames of universal hatred in the process. For the sake of your mind and for those of future generations, please think about what you're listening to.
The way I see it, hip-hop started off underground and took many years until it was fully embraced by the mainstream. When it was so young a genre, those who originated it rapped about real events freshly burned in infamy, about the state of affairs responsible for their development to that point ("The Black CNN" as it was called). The apparently boastful attitude of the pioneers about their crimes and situations seemed like more of an honest triumph of the human character over circumstance. Eventually the top selling rap outfits became the top selling musical acts. Those carrying the brightest torches didn't want to wreck the formula that made them, and so rap, now actually hip-pop, became stagnant. But a new breed of rap was already developing in the underground and began to progress the genre to new levels of honesty, artistic integrity, and moving creativity. And so here we are, where the sound and passion of the underground is slowly being co-opted at the outskirts of hip-hop by the likes of Kanye West, while the rest work or tread the line between hop and pop. Every genre goes through this type of change -- a growth, death, and rebirth -- it's a natural process of development and public patience; but the big three of hip-pop today -- Eminem, 50, and Dr. Dre who took in a combined $54.2 million in 2004 -- represent the old order of uncreative over-actors clinging to the last remains of a tired outlook that is now utterly irrelevant, referring to real life events only in the past tense, these said events that gave them their supposed credibility now either ancient '80s history or were completely hypothetical in the first place. Their brand of theatre has been boiled down to a series of fiery decade old reminiscences, pathetic squabbles with their peers over respect, and grotesquely violent acts without meaning, all to propagate the fašade of true strife in an effort to justify the pointless lives they have led and to encourage others to be as absurd and childish as they are to keep their crumbling empire in tact for a few more years. But it can't last forever. Even cancer has a cure... no matter how long it takes; it's only a matter of time until we find it.