50 Cent's debut cashes in on cred

Posted by Michael Mandelkern 50 Cent skyrocketed to popularity when he released his first major label LP, "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'," in early 2003. His second album, "The Massacre," which was released in 2005, sold 1.14 million copies in first four days of release. With the support of G-Unit, Eminem, and Dr. Dre, 50 Cent took the music industry by storm. His fourth album, "Before I Self Destruct," is slated for a June release.

Back in 2000, 50 Cent was already recognized by Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC and had been featured on a song titled "React" with Onyx. The platinum-selling producers Trackmasters signed him to Columbia Records. They collaborated to release his debut album, "Power of the Dollar." The LP was set for release in 2000, but Columbia reduced it to an EP after news surfaced that 50 Cent had been shot nine times.

His raw delivery of his dangerous upbringing in Southside Jamaica, Queens engages the listener throughout the album. On "The Good Die Young," he gives a detailed account of the street life. He says, "I get vest up/When I get dressed up."

Some of his most engaging tracks are the brief "Corner Bodega (Coke) Spot" and Black Child-featured "Gunrunner." Although short, the listener can vicariously experience being involved a drug deal and gun sale. 50 captivates on "Gunrunner" when he raps, "Damn n***a you hot/You talkin' like you tryna get a n***a knocked."

50 asserts his intimidating jail presence over the Trackmasters-produced "That Ain't Gangsta." Over low-pitched percussion and guitar-string plucks, 50 growls, "I'll have 'em on some E.T. s**t/Tryna phone home." On "You Ain't No Gangsta" he dismisses those who fabricate their street credibility when he raps, "Real s**t, you spit it 'cause you seen it/I spit it 'cause I did it and I mean it."

On "Ghetto Qu'Ran (Forgive Me)," 50 drops names of drug dealers and criminals. The track is allegedly the infamous cause for his being shot. Over a serene beat with soft percussion and 808 drums, 50 is brutally honest about how much becoming a successful rapper means to him. He rhymes, "Writing is the best way I express how I feel/If I ain't rich by 26, I'll be dead in jail."

On the Terence Dudley-produced "Your Life's On The Line," 50 menacingly raps over a momentous, thumping beat with violins and drums. The climax of the beat coincides with the peak of his verses. He scathes at industry rappers when he yells, "These cats always escape reality in they rhymes/That's why they rap about bricks and only dealt with dimes."

His occasional tendency of rhyming multiple words back-to-back can be redundant and the album only has one or two mainstream-friendly tracks. Overall, "Power of the Dollar" is original, direct and aggressive. The listener can taste 50's hunger for fame. The power of 50 Cent's voice inspires awe.

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