There's a lot of media attention on the 1st-week sales race bt. Kanye West & 50 Cent, who each dropped their 3rd solo studio albums on Sept. 11. It looks promising that the underdog & vastly superior artist Kanye will pwn 50.
Given the news, I think it's a good time to reminisce over Kanye & 50's debut studio albums, word to Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
My RYM colleague GOZ has asked me to guest post some reviews from the GOZ RYM review archive on EGC here. GOZ is a real thorough hip-hop head. GOZ's reviews are very insightful in that he puts each album into context of rap history, as well as describing the music itself. GOZ has an excellent combination of insight & comedy. His reviews are interesting reading, even if you don't plan to listen to that album.
Disclaimer: GOZ's opinions are his 100% his own, without any editing from myself. I believe in free speech.
Without further ado, here are the GOZ reviews
50 Cent 2003 Get Rich Or Die Tryin
"One of my friends told me to listen to something else besides Panic! At the Disco and tried to get me into (c)rap music. He lent me Get Rich or Die Tryin' by gay ass 50 Cent. I skimmed right through the album, listening to each song no more than five seconds. Turn out I was right. This album is gay, therefore 50 Cent is gay, therefore all rap is gay, therefore all rap fans are gay too. Rock is the God of all music and all other genres are just the nuts in rock's turds. Rock IS the epitome of all music. Everything else is gay, especially (c)rap."
- some bitch ass rock groupie
Before I do this review, I have a question. If you're a fan of rock music, is there some unwritten law that every rock fan is to put whatever bands they are into on a pedestal and kick dirt at everything else?? Is there some unwritten law that every rock fan is suppose to spend half of their time to ignorantly talk shit about rap music? If all of these people are right, apparently the worst rock music is still of higher quality than the best hip-hop, country, jazz, techno, soul, reggae, R&B, funk, opera, reggaeton, and classical music right? Don't you know how goddamn stupid that sounds? I've even seen shirts in the mall that say country + rap = crap. What the fuck is that?? Is that supposed to be funny in the rock community?? Music ain't about no motherfucking competition or supremacist power trip. Yes, I realize that everybody has their favorite genres, but that doesn't mean a fan has to conclude that whatever he/she ain't listening to is garbage. I won't generalize though. I know there are rock fans that don't disrespect (big up to all y'all). I also know that there are rock fans that grow past their misguided bias. But, there are rock fans that go out of their motherfucking way to talk shit. They even stoop to major hypocrisy just to belittle the music. For example, the dude that says "all they talk about is bitches and hoes". Ya look at the motherfucker's homepage and he's got a goddamn picture of Tommy Lee. And there's that other dude that says "who wants to listen to assholes talk about making millions of dollars?". Yeah, materialistic subject matter is unoriginal, arrogent, and uninspired, but this dude doesn't care about subject matter. It's just a fact that it's a rapper saying that stuff. He acts like he hates that materialism, but then he cums his pants everytime he sees a rock star's mansion on MTV Cribs. Let's not forget the death metal fan that criticizes hip-hop for "being too violent". There's also the huge Elvis Presley fan that accused rap for ripping off other music. "Duh, Elvis expands genres, rappers rip off other genres". There's also the broke ass, tone-deaf McDonalds whipping boy that says rap is "too easy and doesn't require talent". He can tell me that shit when he's making Jay-Z money virtually doing nothing or when he notices someone bumping his music. Shit, David Duke will toss Angela Davis' salad before that happens, and that little punk knows it. My favorite is the rock fan that just hates black people, which is the biggest hypocrisy of all. What am I getting at here? Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is one of the favorite whipping boys of closeminded metalheads. He's on TV all the time, ignorant as hell, makes more money than us, and raps so he must be wack right? Well, he is pretty wack, but the fact that there are more half-star rating here than everything else is overexaggerated propaganda. Before I address this, to the half-star raters that gave this album a fair chance and genuinely didn't like it at all, I apologize to all three of you. To the non-fans that used this album to "give rap a chance" and "hated it", what are y'all, stupid or just that closeminded? If you wanted to get into hip-hop, you don't start with 50 Cent! If you wanted to get into Eddie Murphy, you wouldn't start by watching Vampire In Brooklyn would you? To the hip-hop fans that love to hate, it's just like Powelldinho said. Get Rich or Die Tryin' won't part the Red Sea or anything. It's not meant to change the world. It's not even aimed at the streets. It's mindless pop-rap that I wouldn't take over Kweli (who is NOT faux-conscious!!). This makes Doggystyle look like Stress: The Extinction Agenda. I usually ain't into that pop stuff either, but for whatever reason if I have a pop-rap album, I'll try and be fair. And despite the massive amount of cliches, the R&B joints, and the questionable "street cred" of this album, there is some enjoyment to be had here. First and foremost, Get Rich or Die Tryin' has NOT aged well at all. And it's not even five years old! Damn near everything Fif says can be anticipated on the first listen and the whole thing is more shallow than a Laguna Beach girl in a kiddie pool. 50's rapping on a technical level is far from perfect. He doesn't suck or anything, but his rapping is very basic and straightforward, and not necessarily in a cool Ice Cube or Tupac sort of way. He's no lyrical genius either. I shouldn't have to say this, but expect nothing but overexaggerations about inner-city violence. I'm kinda glad that Fif doesn't stoop down to materialism on this album like other mainstream gangsta rappers. Even if his "street cred" is suspect, he's a more believable thug than your Yung Ice Creams and Lil' Bizzle Dizzles that be dancing and shit. A common misconception about 50 Cent is that he's always rapping about bitches and hoes. He does say the two words a lot, but the only "bitch" song here is "P.I.M.P.", which was just thrown in to bank off the popular pimp-thug persona. Actually, there's "21 Questions" but that's the soft "thugs need love too" joint. The thing that carries 50's performance is his charisma. Unlike other rappers, when 50 talks, you can't help but listen even if he's saying the biggest bullshit ever. The production is a'ight. Eminem really ain't that great of a producer and even though Dr. Dre's a legend, I think the quality of his production has decreased over the span of his career (not that I'm dissing his modern beats or anything). Other than that, he gives his best work to Snoop. I'll admit that Dre did a pretty cool track for "Heat". The other producers on Get Rich or Die Tryin' are Eminem/Dr. Dre protegees that fall somewhere in between Eminem's best and Dre's best (in this album's case). So with it's so-so rhymes/lyrics, and so-so beats, Get Rich or Die Tryin' is a so-so album. It probably is one of the better mainstream albums, but if it's a mainstream classic, it sure doesn't live up to other mainstream classics like The Blueprint or Life After Death. If anyone calls this a hip-hop classic, it's more propaganda. Think about it. Some raggedy ass Queens MC gets dissed by Big Pun, Raekwon, and Jay-Z, gets shot up a whole buttload of times and miraculously survives, his label drops him, gets scooped up by Eminem and Dr. Dre, his upcoming album gets enough hype to make Doggystyle and Illmatic look independent, and said album sells 11 million worldwide. It's the ultimate rags-to-riches story right? Who wouldn't call the album a classic? Anyone that doesn't hate 50 Cent or G-Unit, here's a little bit of ear masturbation for y'all. Your ears won't "climax" as much as they would if this were The Chronic or Doggystyle, but if you need a quick (oxymoron, this album is 69 minutes), record label gangster fix, 50 Cent's your pusher. As for everyone else, do I really need to explain it again? 50 Cent's rebirth into hip-hop may have been more hype than truth, but the dude has at least one album that not's wack, no matter what that hypocritical Dogg Pound fan or that punk bitch rock groupie tells you.
Song Quality: 7/10 (Good Songs)
Lyrics: 7/10 (mainstream, outdated, but solid lyrics)
Beats: 8/10 (Dre and Em hooked him up)
What Up Gangsta
Many Men (Wish Death)
High All the Time
If I Can't
Don't Push Me
Life's on the Line
In da Club (overplayed)
Like My Style
Poor Lil Rich
Kanye West 2004 The College Dropout
Upon his signing to Jay-Z and Dame Dash's label, producer turned rapper Kanye West proclaimed himself "the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of the Roc". Kanye hit it right on the head. Let's go back to late 2003. Following the release of The Black Album, Jay-Z announced his retirement from the rap game (we knew he'd be back, but that's another story). Jigga and Dame assured us that they would have someone fill the void that the former left. Could the disgruntled Cuban cigar carrier Memphis Bleek finally get his shine? Or perhaps Roc-A-Fella strongarm Beanie Sigel? Or maybe new kids on the block Young Gunz? Nope, it ain't none of them. It's the guy that produced "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)". First of all, since when did THAT guy rap?? Second of all, why is a rapper-producer replacing Jay-Z?!? We've all heard less than impressive raps from the likes of Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Puffy, Pete Rock, and J Dilla!!! Third of all, what the fuck is with this guy?!?!!? He ain't from Marcy or South Philly! He's a suburban upper-middle class kid from Chicago!! And where's his throwback jersey and saggy jeans??! Why's he dressing so fruity with the pink polo shirt, backpack, and Louis Vuitton bag!! That's right, Jay-Z fans. Hov's passing the torch to motherfucking Carlton Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!! Who makes these decisions?!? Marketing geniuses, that's who. Jigga and Dame knew how much cash they could reap from Kanye's sudden presence and mystique. The public's skepticism turned into optimistic curiosity when they heard "Through the Wire". Mr. "H to the Izzo" can rap after all and instead of getting shot, he got a metal plate in his jaw after a near-fatal car crash. Let's also remember with the arrival of Kanye West, the media took more interest because they acted like they've never heard a rapper not talk about guns and drugs before (apparently A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, OutKast, etc. never existed). Which all of this hype built up, this new dude Kanye West better show and prove. Don't worry, he certainly does, in sales and in quality. Sales don't matter in a review, so I'll talk about the quality of Kanye West's debut The College Dropout. I'll start with the production. For all two of you that haven't heard this album yet, the beats suck. I'm kidding! Kanye may have given good beats to Jay-Z, the Roc-A-Fella weed carriers, and Talib Kweli, but he saved the best beats for himself. That's all I need to say about that. Now his raps. Jay-Z and Dame Dash have been priding Kanye as a producer that raps better than most rappers. How good is Kanye exactly? Most people emphasize that Mr. West ain't the best rapper. I think that's underrating him a little bit. He's no Lord Finesse, but I personally think Kanye is tight. He has a great flow, commanding voice, and witty lines. I would say that The College Dropout's case, Kanye falls somewhere in between the RZA and Diamond D when it comes to rapping producers. Lyrically, Kanye talks about different things. Even though the term "backpacker" was probably coined because of Kanye, he's not the most cliche non-gangsta rapper in the world (even though he dressed nerdier than said rapper). Kanye does brag about his skills (every MC does), but he doesn't have any songs that blast wack MCs and sellouts or anything. And even though he doesn't dis women, he's not afraid to use the word "ho" and instead of looking for that nubian princess with the afro that writes poetry, reads a lot, and doesn't eat meat or dairy, he's a horny girl chaser (most rapper-producers are). And Kanye won't act like he's not materialistic either. This cat does like him some nice name-brand clothes, ca$h, and fancy cars. If you didn't know it by his nickname "Louis Vuitton Don", his line in "Breathe In, Breathe Out" confirms it ("now I'm rappin' about money, hoes, and rims again"). But Kanye doesn't stay occupied on cliche, megalomaniacal, No Limit/Cash Money subject matter. This brotha can be deep too. Check the songs "All Falls Down", "Spaceship", "Jesus Walks", "Never Let Me Down", and "Family Business". The songs "Through the Wire" and "Last Call" offer some interesting introspection as well. And unlike a lot of "conscious" rappers, Kanye doesn't fall into the boxhole in which he can't have shameless fun without pissing fans off. 'Ye has his gags on "We Don't Care", "Get 'Em High", "The New Workout Plan", "Breathe In, Breath Out" and "School Spirit". All of this show how very down-to-earth and charming Kanye West is. That's right; I said Kanye West is down-to-earth and charming! The guest here are pretty cool too. Jay-Z holds it down, Ludacris does a hook, the singers that did hooks give this album more soul, Talib Kweli, Common, GLC and Consequence hold it down as well, and how cool is it that Kanye put Mos Def and Freeway on the same song and made that shit classic?! I can already picture another ill posse cut featuring Common and Beanie Sigel lol. Going back to all the hype surrounding this album and my review up to this point, The College Dropout sounds like a classic right? It's not quite a classic, but it's close enough. This is a long album (76 minutes) and there's some undeniable filler here. For example, "The New Workout Plan" is cute, but it's nothing more than novelty and out of place. Not to mention the skits. I recommend to any fan of music that has no kind of anti-Kanye bias whatsoever. A lot of people tend to judge Kanye on his award show misadventures instead of his music, so a lot of people hate this guy. Congratulations to Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay-Z is left free to take a hiatus with a new artist to keep the money and fame rolling in. *Memphis Bleek grits his teeth while dusting Kanye's platinum plaque*
Song Quality: 9.5/10 (he came, he saw, he conquered)
Beats: 10/10 (it's Kanye!)
Lyrics: 9/10 (quite good for a producer)
We Don't Care
All Falls Down
Never Let Me Down
Get Em High
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Two Words (Mos is off the HOOK!)
Through the Wire
New Workout Plan (not bad, but....ehhhh)
School Spirit (because it's edited)