Monday, September 17, 2007

Also-rans: 50 Cent

Also-rans: 50 Cent

You may notice that I reviewed only half of the week’s cage match between Kanye and 50 Cent. My opinion was that 50’s new album wasn’t worth the bandwith, but after a reader request, I decided to say something.

I’m an occasional fan of rap, and I’ll admit that I have no real interest in gangsta rap. Still, I realize that I need some objective criteria to review a rap album. I’m not ready to write off an entire genre, especially one that has as big an audience as gangsta rap does. So I asked an unbiased listener, my wife, to enumerate for me what she thinks makes a good rap album. Her list pretty well reflects mine:

  1. It doesn’t completely offend me
  2. It’s got cool beats
  3. It has interesting lyrics

So let’s look at the 50 Cent album through this framework.

1. Completely offensive? No. With rap, I try to give some benefit of the doubt, but the disqualifiers in this category would be heavily misogynistic or homophobic lyrics, graphic depictions of torture or pornographic sex without a larger message. The 50 Cent album, at least what I heard of it, doesn’t have any of these. Lots of gun fetishism and sexual innuendo, but overall a lot tamer than I expected.

2.Cool beats? No. This is pretty standard stuff. No irresistible hooks or unusual instrumentation, just a lightly ornamented backbeat.

3. Interesting lyrics? No. No compelling storytelling, or creative twists of phrase, just straightforward boasting, and talking about guns. Even then, you’d hear more interesting rhetoric at an NRA convention.

So the music’s nothing to write home about, and you don’t even have the excuse that it was too graphic. Curtis is a mediocre album.

No comments: