At some point while we were sleeping, 50 Cent became this kind of historical music figure. I didn’t see it coming. First I was this 14 year-old kid getting my krump on to ‘In Da Club’, my favourite song of 2003, and then, next thing, here was Fiddy being the most famous rapper who ever couldn’t open his mouth to properly enunciate his words since T.I. (bless that recidivist’s soul). I don’t recall when the transformation happened. I can clearly remember there was a time, perhaps when G-Unit was consumed by catty fighting and was exploding from the inside out, that 50 Cent was seen as a bit of a joke. The whole ‘I got shot 9 times, you guys!’ thing sort of died in the ass after sophomore effort ‘The Massacre’. By the time his third studio album ‘Curtis’ was released in competition with Kanye’s ‘Graduation’ in 2007 and 50 lost his bet with Yeezy over sales numbers meaning he had to, allegedly, retire from solo albums forever, nobody really cared when he didn’t make good on his promise. ‘Ayo Technology’ was alright and did a good job of working off the long tail of Justin Timberlake’s ‘FutureSex’ fame but that was about it. The last time we cared about 50 Cent, he was
Now, 50′s returned to remind us that, aside from being CEO of SMS Audio (50 earphones) and Street King (50 energy drink) and owning $100 million worth of Vitaminwater stock, he’s actually a kind of important cultural figure in the lives of all those who were impressionable enough to be caught up in ‘Get Rich Or Die Tryin” in 2003. That 50 has made such a triumphal return to the limelight (even though the three tracks he’s released to date off the forthcoming ‘Street King Immortal’ ) is testament to his enduring character. That established image doesn’t come without work, though. ‘Street King Immortal’ will be released ‘sometime in the first half of 2013′ according to Interscope (ie distributor of Shady Records) who 50 has been tussling with since midway through last year over the album on ‘artistic differences’. Whether he is the king of the street or not, Fiddy is patently the king of brand development and micromanaging his public persona. Those aforementioned three singles (including guest features from Adam Levine (groan) and Snoop Dogg (before Lion, double groan)) were misfires or radio-savvy picks or both. ‘We Up’ is 50 getting back to doing 50.
Produced by 21-year-old Roc Nation signing Davaughn Lennard, ‘We Up’ sounds 100% synthetic. As opposed to the first three singles off ‘Street King Immortal’, however, Davaughn has handled production duties exceedingly well here so that long, full synth chords pinched at their ends, hints of tribal drums and reverbed and layered vocals provide subtlety and shade where previously all 50′s been doing is garish, high-compression messiness. More than that, 50 Cent sounds at ease on this beat in a way he hasn’t sounded in years. Part of that has to have something to do with his +1 (ie. look at me, I am exceedingly relevant now that I appear alongside Compton’s – and Jimmy Kimmel’s – favourite son). Part of that also has to do with the subject matter of ‘We Up’. All of 50 Cent’s better material has self-aggrandisement at its core: ‘P.I.M.P.’, The Game’s ‘How We Do’, even ‘‘ from his dismal ‘Before I Self Destruct’ is ridiculously self-assured. What’s great about ‘We Up’ is that we get the same old arrogant 50, just now . I’m so caught up in the confidence that my initial disgust at Curtis’ chorus singing is waning as I type. Kendrick shows him up but that much is expected. 50 Cent doesn’t have to mix it with 2013′s best, he has a surprisingly rich legacy propping him up. Welcome back Fif.
50 Cent – We Up Ft. Kendrick Lamar