APPRECIATION: 50 Cent
by Marcus K. Dowling
I believe that new is boring and that history is inspirational. These opinions are not necessarily the views of the Couch Sessions. “Marcus Dowling appreciates…” celebrates the memories that define the future. Enjoy.
There was once a period in hip hop where legitimacy wasn’t granted by teenagers wearing musty basketball shorts in front of home computers. In many cases it was literally honor with a badge involved, the resolution of a criminal past charismatically manufactured into stardom. Rap music has become just another pristine art form. The cornerstones of the game are all ex-criminals with no desire to use their past as a template for their future, or willfully being a studio gangster as long as money is involved. With that being said, in a hail of nine shots to the gangsta bling era, I appreciate 50 Cent. The last of hip hop’s greatest heels, he’s a reminder to the rappers of today that the mainstream loves a villain, and that somebody has to be the bad guy.
The 21st century’s post-racial ideal involves a lot of people appearing to be motivated by blending unrepentant blackness with an appreciation of having full access to white ideals, coloring the universe in an ultimately soulless shade of gray. 50 was black. Extraordinarily so. Mainstream heavy-hitting debut single “In the Club” is sparse New York boom bap with party raps delivered by a proud, heavily muscled drug dealer. It’s almost embarrassingly stereotypical until he laughs and smiles. A wary welcome, the seemingly still drug dealing, still heavily strapped and still gang related emcee allowing crime on wax to remain placid and not frighteningly sentient. Appearances in the mainstream become realities, and it’s this type of branding that separated 50 from the likes of Mobb Deep and other East coast gangsters. Whenever the concept has been borrowed since, by the likes of Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, it has been to absurd benefit.
The man gave evil, bizarre and self-aggrandizing behavior unprecedented appeal. “P.I.M.P” makes putting women on the stroll into a day at the park. When he hopped on The Game’s 2005 hit single “Hate It Or Love It,” he stole the show, his tale of a confused childhood involving a lesbian mother somehow departing from the realm of the bizarre to the completely familiar. “I Get Money?” The Watch the Throne of the jiggy generation, 50’s declaration on the “Forbes 123 Remix” that he, Diddy and Jay-Z “run New York” entirely believable and the first of many mainstream power moves by hip hop’s next generation. Need further proof? From groundbreaking deals with Vitamin Water to shaming Rick Ross into mainstream notoriety and possibly shutting down World Star Hip Hop for the day, he’s Robin Hood shrouded in base behavior.
50 Cent’s late 2011 10 track EP that celebrated his legendary 2002 mixtape, 50 Cent is the Future nearly made us all remember our favorite Jamaica, Queens native. Hip hop fanatics who, like myself, miss the era of death by record and illegal drug money were excited, and got the expected memory of things lost. But that’s it. They’re gone forever. From his Street King website to his “Money Team” partnership with Floyd Mayweather, the ghetto pitbull that took the gutter to the palace is now trapped within the palace walls. Alongside fans waiting with baited breath, he’s likely to learn that breaking free is virtually impossible. Current rappers exceeding his legendary past, though? I can absolutely appreciate that.