Hip-hop has held to certain turning points ever since its humble beginnings of the late 80′s and early 90′s; where guys like NWA began doing things with microphones, hand claps and bass beats that had never been done before. One notable turning point that we’ve seen more than once is the date September 11. Other than the obvious, the date has accumulated more weight over the years since 2001, which was the first turn with Jay-Z’s The Blueprint LP – you decide whether it was fate or irony. Then in 2007, it was Kanye West’s Graduation versus 50 Cent’s Curtis, as they were both set to release on the now famous date. The former would go to outsell the latter by unanimous numbers, bringing us to a fork in the growing genre’s road. Where guys like West came to push the boundaries of production and lyricism, 50 Cent and the G-Unit force behind him seemed to remain constant, keeping up with the same tricks and expecting them to work while simultaneously spitting out projects into a genre that has been ever-changing and evolving ever since Nas put out Illmatic. Since 2009, Curtis Jackson has essentially remained in the shade, waiting for his supposed comeback moment. But with Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win, the year of 50 and his G-Unit still has a lot to prove.
You remember it just as I do, the fire that 50 Cent started with “In Da Club” (must mention: Kanye’s line in Yeezus’ “Send it Up”: ‘This the greatest shit in the club since “In Da Club”‘) was an unstoppable force. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ put the fresh G-Unit label on the map like no one could have expected, with the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre, respectively. But even with breakthrough hits like “In Da Club”, “Candy Shop” or “Just a Lil’ Bit”, 50 was never the hero he thought he had become. Even in his quiet years, he never had a year of the underdog – also something he seemed to believe was easily attainable. Where tracks like his first hits worked back in 2005, the game has been changing ever since and Animal Ambition might not have even made it back in 50′s golden years.
Jackson speaks of aggression all the damn time. Countless interviews having him declaring whatever his next project is to be more “aggressive” and he called, obviously, Before I Self Destruct “darker” than Curtis, its predecessor. The album revolves more around stagnancy than any kind of ambition or aggression, as just about every track seems to jog in place; pertaining not to just the minimal, repetitive sounds occurring, but more importantly the under-exposed, falsely self-proclaimed “ambitious” Curtis Jackson, who can’t seem to stop trying to make work what stopped working for him seven years ago. See track two “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It” which holds Jackson as a laughing stock – apparently unaware that people haven’t cared about him, his money, or how he’s been getting it for years now. But even if his lyric writing has drifted towards sub-par standings, his presentation has been reduced down to a sloppy-ass sandwich no one wants to eat.
Try and survive the meek and lackadaisical “Irregular Heartbeat” or “Hustler”. 50 Cent does nothing new here, and as it seems he insists on telling us the same things that he always has, Animal Ambition makes an unfunny joke out of itself since everything it sets out to be is just out of reach; metaphorically (and even literally on the title track) representing a lion cub that just wants to have a mane and growl like his daddy. “I got that animal, animal ambition (argggh)”: it’s supposed to be funny, right? On the contrary, a few of the tracks dispersed throughout the album have pleasant and more-than-tolerable features like Gourdan Banks in “Winner’s Circle” or Trey Songz in “Smoke”. R&B specialists here, however, do not obtain the capacity to save a mediocre rap album.
With the first of three supposed projects to be released this year alone, 50 Cent starts off in June with one of his most memorably weakest albums to date. Street King Immortal is already set to be released in September, with another untitled project to follow. But don’t hold any breaths, Street King was originally supposed to be out in 2011, and Animal Ambition in January. Who knows why all the setbacks from a man who hasn’t been in the spotlight for years, but we’ve already been told not to worry about how 50 gets his money. G-Unit’s comeback will need much more care if it’s to be reality, as the labels very leader might do a better job leading if he was to step off the treadmill and actually go run a marathon.