Well, it seems he wasn't the future after all, at least not in the way they meant it. The problem with 50 Cent was not that he destroyed quality rap and ushered in a new age of men reading out their bank statements over a Marvin Gaye sample, but that you couldn't get away from the fucker. He was everywhere. He even presented Gardener's Question Time at one point. Ain't that some shit.
50 Cent rose to infamy with How To Rob on which he named names and threatened to take dinner money from more or less every other rapper going. It was an entertaining list which happened to rhyme and served to piss off enough people - mostly those identified - to garner some attention; then he got shot in the face, took a year or so out to get his act back together, and returned to the spotlight when Eminem needed someone scary to be seen stood next to. That probably wasn't quite how it happened, but it was how it looked. Suddenly he was everywhere, both solo and with G-Unit, turning up on everybody else's records, not quite acting in some seriously shitty films, interviews in magazines, on the box, photographed grinning whilst doing a poo into a toilet so molded as to resemble Ja Rule's face...
The backlash was inevitable, kicking off when that bloke out of Made Men, having failed to achieve fame either by his own records or shares in The Source magazine, decided to go after Eminem as an easy and newsworthy target, by association also drawing 50 Cent and Dr. Dre into the line of fire. They were selling too many records to the wrong sort of people, the argument ran, and their records were too crap, and the fact of Ray Benzino owning the magazine from which the loudest complaints were issued was just a coincidence. Genuine rap was not, it was suggested, some macho bullshit about blow jobs and ostentatiously spending a ton of money in the pub; and those who thought otherwise were destroying our culture, something from which Eminem should be expelled because he once made a record about some black bitches - his terms - which crossed lines of taste and judgement which had been sacrosanct up to that point. You'd never catch a true hip-hop artist making that sort of ditty. No sir.
So, it was difficult to really get any kind of impression of 50 Cent's actual worth - assuming for the sake of argument that he had any - what with all the shouting and the hype, and his bloody awful records. Well, maybe not all of them, but The Massacre was mostly shite, seeming almost like an attempt to make the album described in the very worst reviews of the previous one - which personally I thought was fairly listenable, all things considered. The appeal of 50 Cent is admittedly thin, and mostly to be found in the way he tells 'em rather than the thrust of what is said. He was never an amazing lyricist, but his delivery is good and he can be very funny, and this comes through much better on the stuff which appeared outside of the usual record company channels, mix-tapes such as this one for example.
It's a G-Unit album, but I guess they had no illusions as to which name was getting bums on seats, so it's mostly himself. Lloyd Banks is enough of a presence to maintain variety, not least because he's the one with some serious verbal dexterity, and then there's Tony Yayo presumably on here somewhere. Subjectwise, we're sticking to the kind of thing you'll probably be happy to hear if you're buying a 50 Cent album, much of which may cause frowning amongst those who never really liked rap in the first place, but then the record probably wasn't meant for them. What matters is that 50 Cent is the Future is a fucking great album regardless, in so much as that you slap it on and it comes out of the speakers and it sounds good. The beats are tight, summery and soulful with just enough of a scowl to keep it from dropping into the whole food store to pick up mung beans; and it sounds like something coming out of a radio on a hot day when you're feeling good. The lyrics are a chortle, or at least they are to me - guns, hoes, crack and all the usual of course, but not really as lifestyle advice, more like stories told, and even when you know it's complete bullshit, you can still appreciate the tale, even feel good for those involved in the telling. The parts may not look like much on paper, but the whole is much greater than the sum.