After the track by track break down of Graduation, it's only fair that I break down 50 Cent's Curtis album. As you know, the pair are going head to head, releasing their new albums on the same day and it seems to be Fiddy with all the trash talk (surprise surprise!!)...but does his album back his talk?
Before I delve into this, lets not get it twisted - I AM NOT A G UNIT HATER! Since getting the album on Friday, I've given it a couple of listens and in all honesty, it's an ok album but not the standard I'd expect with the amount of big talk Fiddy is throwing around - especially compared to the quality of music on Kanye's release and even compared to the standard he set himself with "Get Rich Or Die Trying". I expected after the luke-warm "The Massacre", 50 would be coming back out with all guns blazing. Seems as though some of those guns have jammed... Let's take it track by track:
A very weird way to start the album. Over a melancholic guitar, 50’s chosen what sounds like a film clip of two men - one seemingly Welsh, one Scouse talking about some guns. Super Sunil thinks they're supposed to be Irish - if so, they definitely need some accent lessons!
Over a typical Eminem beat with plenty of muted guitar and dramatic harpsichord (sounding a bit like “You Don’t Know” from the Re-Up album) 50 drops some of that standard gangsta ish talking about shooting people and how gangsta he is when his gun goes off which sets the lyrical tone for the album. There’s actually nothing wrong with this record, just that we’ve heard it before and done better on ‘Heat’ from “Get Rich Or Die Trying”
This sounds like a Dre-a-like on the boards. An infectious piano looping the same 3 chords over and over over some very hard military style drums sets the tone for another gangsta epic which lyrically lacks the usual 50 Cent finesse. Like using a sledgehammer when a slight tap would have done.
I’ll Still Kill ft Akon
4 tracks in and we get treated to an appearance from the man who stole the King of HipHop Hooks crown from Nate Dogg, Akon. When Akon spoke to 1Xtra over the summer, he said that this record was amazing and while it is the best track out of the first 5 on the album, it’s not what you’d expect from a 50 & Akon collabo. Now, that’s not a bad thing - I quite like the fact that 50 and Akon haven’t gone the top 40 route and cooked up a girl tune and instead created a convict (notice the spelling) anthem but you have heard much better from both artists.
I Get Money
The gangsta club banger that I’ve been loving over the past few months. There’s over 20 different versions of it on tinterweb but 50’s swagger matches the beat perfectly (even though the beat is a direct rip off of Cassidy’s “I’m A Hustler”). By far the best track on the album – 50 sounds confident, cocky and humorous – exactly what he does best. If the album was all this quality, Kanye would be sweating!
Come And Go
“It’s Dr Dre & 50 Cent trick…” With this one, Dre cooks up a Dre by numbers beat while 50 talks about women that have done him wrong but even Fiddy singing a refrain from SOS Band’s (or Beats International’s depending on your age) “Just Be Good To Me” can make this anything more than meh. I love Dre, I love 50 (NH) and I sound like a broken record but this was done much better on ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ and even on tracks like ‘Outta Control’ on ‘The Massacre’.
Ayo Technology ft Justin Timberlake
This is definitely a grower – when I first heard it, I was straight not into it but it’s since grown on me after seeing the reaction in the club. I know it’s because I’ve got such high expectations of what a Timbaland/Fiddy/Timbalake collabo would sound like that nothing short of “Cry Me A River”/”The Way I Are”/”Bounce” would have matched. The beat is one of those electro influenced double time ones Timbo has been knocking out recently that are oh so club friendly with 50 and JT on beg mode (substitute the word technology for pornography and you get a clearer idea of what the song is actually about – as if “why don’t you sit down on top of me” isn’t graphic enough…). Timbaland got the best Fiddy/Timbaland collabo on his album with “Come & Get Me”.
Follow My Lead ft Robin Thicke
A 50 love song akin to “20 Questions” or “Wanna Get To Know You” – quality beat, lyrically slushy but on point (although there are no ‘…love you like a fat kid loves cake’ moments here) and Robin Thicke does what an R&B singer should do on these things – add some sprinkles here and there.
Movin On Up
A Russell Simmons intro
Straight To The Bank
You’ve heard this by now. Very indicative of where Curtis’ mindset is throughout this whole album. Very lazy Aftermath/G Unit/Shady records hit song by numbers that doesn’t quite hit you as hard as you would hope. That said, Tony Yayo’s ha ha’s have fast become the new standard way to laugh at people at 1Xtra towers. Or maybe not.
Candy Shop 2007. Nuff said.
Fully Loaded Clip
Now I like this one – this is some straight up uncompromising put the kids to bed gangsta ish that musically sounds like something that Mobb Deep would have done in 2000 around the Murda Muzik album. Lyrically, he’s on Clipse mode and comes with a lot of Fiddy swagger but it’s got a feel of mixtape about it.
Peep Show ft Eminem
One for the freaky ladies in the club. Funnily enough, I’d expect it to go down well in strip clubs.
Fire ft Nicole Scherzinger & Young Buck
This should be a single. Straight up uncompromising Fiddy club joint that I expect will be requested by the ladies in the not too distant future. With the right video, this one could be a big hit.
All Of Me ft Mary J Blige
Mary makes this record – this should have been hers, she’d have smacked it to pieces. One of the strongest on the album with the mid 70’s soulful sample and simple drums complimenting a typical cocky 50 flow but lyrically he just sounds lazy which lets the track down.
“I’m grimey, I’m greasy, I make a 187 look easy…” Sounds like something left over from the GRODT soundtrack or the Re-Up mixtape – I can imagine hearing it in a film or a game like “Grand Theft Auto” but that’s about it. Filler.
Touch The Sky ft Tony Yayo
A G unit anthem – complete G Unit by numbers which in this case isn’t a bad thing. Over a well produced beat, Yayo outshines 50 by far. Difference being that Yayo sounds quite hungry and comes with some good one liners in his verse. 50 sounds uninterested.
Overall, I feel disappointed by “Curtis”. Even if this wasn’t up against Kanye’s musically, conceptually and lyrically superior “Graduation” and I didn’t have such high expectations of a 50 Cent release then I’d still rate it as I do. You’ve heard all the ideas and beats on the album before on previous G Unit mixtapes and previous albums. A lot of songs feel unfinished – those that hit lyrically fail musically and those that have fire beats have weak lyrics. Out of his 3 released solo albums this is the weakest for me – just below “The Massacre”.
If you’re a G Unit soldier, buy the album. If you’re a quality music fan, buy the Kanye album instead and download “I Get Money”, “Fire”, “All Of Me”, “Movin On Up” and “Follow My Lead” from your favourite legal download site...
Don't let me influence you - vote and tell us what you're going to be buying on Monday.