The brightest musical observation I ever made came during an Eminem acceptance speech at the MTV Music Awards. Eminem ended his speech by telling the audience to look out for his new artist 50 Cent. My response was immediate “Everything is fucked up now.” It’s the smartest summation of his rise to prominence. Having followed him from a NY mixtape artist who was brazen to the point of delusion to THE mixtape artist in rap music, I sensed his personality would outgrow his music. He would pick on and bully an entire genre of sensitive artists cloaked in toughness. The Big 10 mixtape marks the ten year anniversary of his most valuable work, Power of the Dollar.
It showcases a lot of things, most of all his appreciation for the part of the Rap music he was so integral in developing. It’s better than anything he’s put out since his second album, The Massacre, and it’s because he takes his reputation in mixtapes deadly serious. He knows he helped build the medium, and so he uses The Big 10 as an attack/declaration on the industry- an opportunity to reclaim his identity as an artist.
Never one for subtlety, he clears everything up immediately after the first song, “Body on It”. The song showcases his embarrassing humor “Them crackers say I’m racial wait a cotton picking minute\ now I’m racial ‘cause I put cotton picking in it.” He rambles as the track ends defending Curtis (even though he mumbled all through his verses on that album) before telling haters to eat (and chew) a dick, he brings up a great point. His claim is that he went off his path when he won too much in front of us. Everything we have told him we wanted was a lie. All the critics wanted 50 to be more like Kanye, get emotional, explain the pitfalls of fame…how does it feel? When he tried it failed horribly. So the formula is simple: make every beat undeniably earth shaking, and every verse snarl, mock, and threaten. “Come back so hot you can’t deny it.” His goal is to make music you feel bad about liking.
So the samples are catchier than they have been in years (“Wait Until Tonight”), the bass bangs hard enough for you to wish you were in a vehicle (“Shooting Guns”) and this 50 is a jerk. That’s when he is at the peak of his game! He raps things like “Feels like my last girlfriend, I lost her…on second thought I know just where I left her…the alter.” His unrelenting “gangsterism” is unchanged on “Shooting Guns”, he states an oath “I go to war till my heart stop…” it’s not just literal, it represents an unrelenting desire to succeed at what he does.
Paris does a great job guesting on “Queens”. A female MC has to be pretty rugged to keep up with 50 and she does it nicely. Kidd Kidd gets a mixed grade for being quite forgettable on “Niggas Be Scheming” but very good on “Shooting Guns”. Tony Yayo should stop rapping and do something he loves for a change. He’s given it a while and it’s just not working. “I Just Wanna” feels exactly like an old 50 cent song (not because of Yayo, but in spite of him) 50 still pulls off these “I just want to bone” tracks effortlessly and never gives into fake love tracks- at least not on this tape. The hooks are catchy, the jokes are mean but hilarious, and the production is downright masterful throughout. It’s only 10 tracks and 2 are skits but 8 great tracks beats 18 mediocre ones any day.
If you’re a fan of nothing but good wholesome J5, Common, Black Star style hip hop you still need to listen to this. You need to know that the bad guy you thought was gone, never left. He promises he never will.
– Dan O
You can Download this mixtape at the link below.