Mixtape Review-The Kanan Tape by 50 Cent
One song on 50 Cent’s new Kanan Tape (free release mixtape) flawlessly represents the conundrum of 50. The song is called Body Bags and it starts with 50 telling a story about gambling one night, when a gunman barges in, shouting for everyone to go face down on the floor so he can rob them. 50 Cent looks at the gunman and says “N___ I got on white linen?!” That story is so specifically and charmingly him that it’s magic. The humor in a crappy situation, the overwhelming confidence, it all makes him special. Problem with all this is that the song following the interlude is blandly unspecified 50. Alchemist gives him a pure minimalist gem that sounds like 99 Mobb Deep and 50 gives us the song Body Bags which sounds like it could have been from any era of his career. If I said the phrase “typical 50 Cent song” you would hear Body Bags in your head.
This isn’t to say that he refuses to move out of his comfort zone. The Production list provides an interesting grouping of producers (seven songs seven different names). Whenever he moves into weird territory the results are interesting. It is fun to watch 50 wrap himself around a lush Sonny Digital beat on I’m The Man and the results are definitely a success. 50 has an incredibly high hip hop IQ so his southern songs are all performed at an extremely high level. Nigga Nigga featuring Lil Boosie and Young Buck is great not just because all Boosie verses have been show stoppers since he got out of prison, but because Young Buck always seems to show up and deliver when he lines up next to a dope artist. Young Buck by himself can go either way. The energy 50 brings to the track is matched by Boosie and the two snarl wonderfully together.
London on Da Track has the best song on the project Too Rich for the Bitch where he serves up a Young Thug style off kilter piano track to 50 who luxuriates in it, layering his braggadocio into a fascinating anti-love soundscape. This modern rap world of singing in the middle of the song and making your verses sound like hooks is something 50 can do in his sleep.
The most boring parts of The Kanan Tape sound like his boring last album Animal Ambition. 50 is convinced that if he gives us what we say we want from him we will be happy. That is why he gives us songs like Burner On Me with mailed in clothing brand brags and standard gun talk, it’s what we expect. The problem is that as an audience we only want sixty five percent of what we say we want; that thirty five percent that remains needs to be growth of some kind. Lyrically he won’t bring us closer to his life (he says he tried that on Before I Self Destruct and it didn’t work) so that leaves only so many other sonic ingredients that can change. I’m not writing this as some kind of smug internet tough…I’m a 50 Cent fan. The only Mainer who was bumping 50 Cent mixtapes before Eminem signed him and I’m saying you need to surprise me just a little. The Kanan tape is close but it’s not there.
stream or download The Kanan Tape below: