On Thursdays we review albums that are considered “classic”. This week it’s the classic album that pushed gangsta rap to new heights, 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. This is certainly one of the best debut albums by a rapper (in the conversation with Nas’ Illmatic and Kanye West’s The College Dropout). The 2002 album, released by Eminem’s Shady Aftermath and Interscope, was made popular by the radio hit ‘In Da Club’ (and bonus track ‘Wanksta’) but received its vast critical acclaim by the realness and vividness in 50’s gangsta rap.
What Up Gangsta – “What up gaaaaangstaaaaa?” The first track to the album is a hit and sets the tone for the entire album. The track is produced by Rob “Reef” Tewlow and is three minutes of heat (no track 7 pun intended).
Patiently Waiting – One of a handful of excellent collaborations between 50 Cent and Eminem, not only did Eminem produce some of this album (a little known talent of his) but he also gave Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ its best guest verse.
Many Men – You can’t listen to ‘Many Men’ without listening to the song’s intro, with 50 and a Lloyd Banks waiting in their car before getting shot at. This song encompasses the gangsta theme of the whole album and demonstrates why we love 50. The way he almost romanticizes something so negative (but real) as his gangsta lifestyle is amazing, even if unrelatable to most.
“Hommo shot me, three weeks later he got show down. Now it’s clear that I’m here for a real reason, cause he got hit like I got hit, but he ain’t f*ckin’ breathin’.”
In Da Club – “Go shawty, it’s ya Birthday”, the first 50 Cent line that 99.9% of us have ever heard, 50’s ‘In Da Club’ is still his biggest hit today. It certainly isn’t his best song ever, probably isn’t up to par to the quality of the rest of the album, but this Dr. Dre produced track is still a hit and the song responsible for 50’s initial success.
High All The Time – What is a good rap album without a hot track about weed? Okay, well there are plenty without such a song but even The College Dropout dedicates a song to Mary Jane. This one has a catchy hook, possibly the catchiest on the album, and is a favorite of weed smokers and the straight-edged folks alike.
Heat – My personal favorite, ‘Heat’ is another Dr. Dre produced hit on Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. “If I die today I’m happy how my life turned out. See the shootouts that I’ve been in I’m by myself. Locked up I was in a box by myself. I done made myself a millionaire by myself.” Little did he know his business ventures would make up most of his income down the road.
P.I.M.P. – Another successful single of the album, ‘P.I.M.P. is produced by Denaun Porter (Mr. Porter) and even the legendary Snoop Dogg hopped on the remix. Like ‘In Da Club’, this one is more radio friendly and doesn’t quite fit the gangsta theme, but it is still a great track.
21 Questions – The ‘love song’ off the album (if you want to call it that) ’21 Questions’ has a great beat (produced by Dirty Swif) and a feature from the late great Nate Dogg. Nate Dogg on the chorus mixed with 50’s fun lyrics (“I love you like a fat kid loves cake”) make ’21 Questions’ a track not to skip.
Don’t Push Me – If 50 didn’t already convince us that we should’t mess with him, he certainly did on ‘Don’t Push Me’. “Cause I can’t control my temper, I’m fitting to catch a felony. Pistol in hand homie, I’m down to get it popping. Once I squeeze the first shot. No I ain’t stopping till my clip is empty.” It may sound redundant, but what makes this track great again is the vivid and honest description of 50’s criminal lifestyle.
There are a few fillers in the 18-track album (including a few bonus tracks, including ‘Wanksta’), but overall this album is a classic to say the least. Who said music has to be relatable? This is both a critically acclaimed hit and maybe the most gangsta album of all time. There is something to say for music that gives a positive message, but you cannot deny the quality and honesty of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, not one bit.