50 Cent, days after dropping The Game from G-Unit, released his highly awaited album, The Massacre.
It had been over two years since Curtis Jackson – 50 Cent – exploded into the rap scene with his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The album sold over 11 million copies worldwide – a record-breaking feat for the artist.
50 Cent explained to MTV that he has not yet reached his peak, and he hopes to see at the very least, the same results with The Massacre.
The Massacre has many differences than Get Rich or Die Tryin’, one being it is not as good.
Like Get Rich or Die Tryin’ boasts the popular club beat “In Da Club,” The Massacre has its own already popular dance music – “Candy Shop” and “Disco Inferno.” It is nearly impossible to avoid hearing these two songs on the radio.
“Outta Control” and “Just a Lil Bit” not only compete for two of the best beats on the album but also for two of the best songs period.
In the controversial “Piggy Bank,” 50 Cent attacks the rapper Nas, who he has already been feuding with, and also attacks rappers Fat Joe and Jadakiss merely because they worked with 50’s biggest enemy, Ja Rule. 50 Cent openly acknowledged he is not worried about what his targets may respond with.
The Massacre has six more songs than Get Rich or Die Tryin,’ and it features Eminem, The Game and the rest of G-Unit, but The Massacre is just not as good as Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
If the album was not released so soon after The Game’s remarkable debut album, and if 50 Cent did not already release such an extraordinary prequel in Get Rich or Die Tryin’, then The Massacre would deservingly get more credit.
50 Cent said on MTV, “After you sell a lot of records, the pressure is to come with those numbers again.”‘
This really is working against 50, but the sales of his new album are decent. Despite not being as good as Get Rich or Die Tryin’, The Massacre deserves to be purchased.
Lost and Found
On Lost and Found, Will Smith addresses issues he never previously rapped about, and one of his biggest messages is that being nice does not equal being soft. While his music is “radio friendly,” in one of Smith’s songs on Lost and Found, he talks of how rap stations don’t feel his music fits.
After about three years, Big Will decided to get back in the rap game with Lost and Found, an album the prominent actor and rapper called a “departure from his previous albums.”
Smith points out in “Mr. Niceguy,” a song directed toward Eminem and anyone who questions his rap ability, that no matter how many times his music is disrespected he is the one who will be walking away with the most money. The song is good, but the trite chorus gets annoying.
In one of the best songs on the album, “Lost and Found,” Smith declares his music is original unlike other current rappers, and that he is one of the few rappers involved for the love of rap, not the riches.
Big Will lets his emotions flow in the deepest song on the album, “Tell Me Why.” This song’s lyrics hint at Smith’s first ever musical profanity, but he bleeps it out. It is one of many issues Smith questions, but the hint at an expletive is a useful technique. If the rapper who refuses to ever cuss in his music needs to suggest a curse, the listener should recognize the emotion of the song.
“Switch,” the one song to hit the radio, is the more normal Big Willie Style. This song is on the album three times – the original, an R&B remix, and a reggae remix. These songs are all good and differ reasonably.
In “I Wish I Made That,” Smith talks about how his music gets criticized yet it still gets bought. During the song, he also refers to Ludacris’s “Get Back,” Fat Joe’s “Lean Back,” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” all songs that are popular in clubs and on the radio, but unlike his own music, these songs get put on hip-hop stations. In response, Big Will raps to each of these, “I wish I would of made that.” He also raps about how he is called soft, and he questions what he needs to do to change that. Smith sarcastically responds to being an unconventional rapper by suggesting he get involved in a shoot out, or just by generally acting ignorant or rough. These are not things anyone can imagine Smith doing, but Smith is saying other rappers do them, and it unfortunately helps their rap careers. This song, like “Mr. Niceguy,” has a weak chorus. The album overall is not as original as Big Will claims. For example, the opening music is the Spider-Man theme song, and as good as “Tell Me Why” is, Jadakiss’s song “Why” had the same general idea.
There is lack of originality in some songs, weak choruses in others, and few songs that just aren’t too good. Lost and Found is not his usual “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It” dance music, but any Will Smith fan will appreciate some of his strongest rapping.
Kill Rock Stars
Shiver your timbers, tighten your corsets, and swab the poop deck, The Decemberists have done it once again. Their newest release, Picaresque, continuing in the sea-shanty mode that has become their staple, confirm to the listening public that songs about pirates are never out of style.
About halfway through the album, it becomes undeniably clear that if Charles Dickens would have started a band, it would have been The Decemberists. Listening to them, one is transported back to a place somewhere in or around 19th century England, with stories of escaped pirates, Odyssian adventures at sea, and orphan chimney sweeps.
And while the instrumentals are often sweeping and operatic in their use of the oft-neglected instruments, it’s not the accordion, tambourines, or the organ that make this album, nor is it the distinct vocals of Colin Meloy, or the beautiful, yet haunting back-ups of Jenny Conlee. In the end, it is the uncanny handle on language this band displays in their writing. Do you know what chaparral is? How about an infanta? Yeah, neither do I. That’s okay. With The Decemberists’ new album we all get an educational helping of dated English terminology that you will never hear again. And so with such verbal wizardry, one is narrated through the digestive tracts of leviathans, along the cliffs of Dover, and under the silk-linen sheets of the bed of a Spanish princess.
While the most interesting track is “Mariner’s Revenge Song,” a story about the unexpected reunion of an estranged father and son in the belly of a whale (seriously), the track that has most people’s girdles up in a huffy is the politically-charged “Sixteen Military Wives.” We are told of “17 company men/ out of which only 12 will make it back again” from battle. Meloy sings about the hungry children that starve in the absence of their fathers. And rounding off the song in a decisive “Cause America can, and America can’t say no/ And America does, if America says it’s so,” The Decemberists spin their historical narrative with some more contemporary themes.
Rarely these days do bands rhyme parapets with coronets. Not so with The Decemberists’ Picaresque. And their newest release might just be their best, setting in somewhere ahead of the previous Her Majesty. To present a little more even-handed take on this gem, The Decemberists have gotten progressively catchier as they continue recording. This brings along the classic rock (read: classic [space] rock) catch-22 of increased popularity with decreased album shelf lives. So, maybe it won’t be your favorite album in five years, or even five months, but for now just sit back, take a whiff of the salty sea air, and steal a sip from a tall glass of absinthe, for the Decemberists have landed.
– Michael Harvey