Updated: May 9, 2020
Today’s throwback album review focuses on 2003’s classic ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ from Eminem & Dr. Dre’s protégée 50 Cent. The gangster rapper was new on the scene, and would have all eyes on him after releasing his debut album due to his connections with Shady Records & Interscope Records. The pressure didn’t effect 50 after his album topped the billboard charts, sold nearly 900,000 copies in the first week and became platinum after not too long. By the end of 2003 it had sold 12,000,000 copies and had numerous songs hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The whole album is executive produced by Dr. Dre, so as you'd expect you get his classic bouncy, boom bap style. The production isn't complicated but it's just so catchy it gets stuck in your head and gets your head bobbing. For 50 himself, he does have his limitations. He isn't the most lyrical rapper in the world but can come up with a good punchline every now and then - the appeal is all in his delivery, cadence and energy. His delivery is of such high energy, and it goes so hard making the simplest of lines sound so good. His delivery also has a melodic edge to them (especially in the hooks) which he pulls off well. In terms of subject matter - well, it's the pinnacle of gangster rap with almost every song focusing on his rags to riches, guns, drugs and his life growing up. There are lots of references to his shooting in this album, with songs focusing on flexing his new found fame as well (as there has to be on every rap album). Finally, to mention the features 50 picks - they're all great and add something new to the track they're on.
Following the intro titled simply ‘Intro’, we get the first track of this classic - ‘What Up Gangsta’. Again, I can’t go in detail for all the tracks so some will just be brief. So to skim over this song, some hard lyrics such as “Stomp a bone out your ass with some brand new Chukkas”, accompanied by a menacing beat which 50 flows over equally as menacing. Following that we have the first collaboration between 50 Cent & Eminem on the album. With 50’s melodic hook, the boom-bap beat, 50’s hard lyrics and Eminem’s almost flawless verse it’s yet another track on this album making it great. 50’s verse is slow but he makes you hear everything he’s saying which is that he’s been 'Patiently Waiting' for a chance to blow. Eminem on the other hand spits a quicker verse basically expressing his and 50’s dominance in the rap game and telling other rappers to not fuck with them, “Take some Big and some Pac and you mix them up in a pot//Sprinkle a little Big L on top, and what the fuck do you got?//You got the realest and illest killers tied up in a knot//The Juggernauts of this rap shit like it or not”. Next up is one of the more well known songs off the album, ‘Many Men (Death Wish)’. The melody on this hook is amazing and so catchy while the lyrics focus on 50 surviving his shooting as well as the fears that followed with a brighter outlook suggesting he survived because he was destined for the rap game. His flows not overly impressive but he’s venomous delivery and lyrics are what keep these tracks interesting , “Sunny days wouldn't be special if it wasn't for rain//Joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain//Death gotta be easy, ‘cause life is hard”.
‘In Da Club’ follows and there’s no need to go into any detail with this as everybody knows it. It’s a club anthem, with a jumpy club anthem beat, talking about partying, sex, drugs and how he’s going to dominate the rap game. It’s bound to get anyone hyped at a party and serves its purpose excellently. ‘High All The Time’ is another fun song about weed specifically. Em’s production is nice (especially the piano), hooks dumb but catchy and his cadence/flow is some of his best work on the album. ‘Heat’ is next in the track list, with a beat made entirely from an unorganised piano and a cock gun noise which sounds alright but nothing special. Hook’s catchy but the verses are kind of slow moving on this one. Still has some nice lyrics on it. The fourth and final single of the album ‘If I Can’t’ is up next and features a classic boom bap party beat from Dr. Dre. It’s more gangsta rap as this album is, with 50 focusing more on the concept if he can’t do something then it’s simply not possible. His flow in the first verse and second verse is fire as well as his delivery in the second. The hook is short but sweet and 50 comes with some hard lyrics as usual, “N***** on my dick more than my bitch, I stay on they mind”. Succeeding that is ‘Blood Hound’ which again is fine. Solid verses from both 50 and his feature Young Buck who both use a delivery where every last word of the second line sounds nice and melodic. Electronic/bubbly beat as well suits the track nicely. Holy shit, this next track ‘Back Down’ is a diss track to Ja Rule and it’s ferocious. The beat is hard, the hook is catchy & mean but the lyrics go hard. 50 talks about Ja faking his gangsta status, suggesting he knows people in his hood who don’t know who he is. He then attacks his label, friends and his family “Your mami, your papi, that bitch you chasin'Your little dirty ass kids, I'll fucking erase them”. It’s disrespectful, it’s horrible and it’s a prime example of 50’s ruthlessness. If you want to know the ins and outs of pimping - you’ve come to the right song with ‘P.I.M.P.’. 50 spits about the life of a pimps and prostitute over a tropical beat and spits an insanely catchy hook. The lyrics are an interesting look in on the life of a pimp and overall it’s a fun, chilled song.
The next track titled ‘Like My Style’ is another highlight track on here with crazy production while it’s successor ‘Poor Lil Rich’ is the first time we reach a song on this album that’s just boring and forgettable. ‘21 Questions’ is so good. Like so good. I like the concept of the song which is 50 asking this girl 21 questions throughout the track to see if she truly loves him, which is delivered with a calm, melodic flow. The guitar-based production creates the relaxed atmosphere and Nate Dogg (RIP) as usual delivers a great hook that’s so damn catchy. Lloyd Banks & Eminem join 50 on ‘Don’t Push Me’ which see’s everyone provide a solid verse with Eminem’s standing out the most. Following the enjoyable track ’Gotta Make it to Heaven’ we have one of his most memorable tracks in ‘Wanksta’. With one of the most exotic beats, 50’s rancid delivery and catchy hook it’s yet another highlight on this classic of his all about fake gangsters. There’s nothing new in terms of subject matter on ‘U Not Like Me’ but again with a classic boom-bap beat, 50’s delivery and the catchiness of the hook it’s enjoyable yet again. I really like the spin he puts on his shooting here too when he says “See, I done been to the Pearly Gates, they sent me back//Good die young, I ain’t eligible for that”. The finale to this album 'Lifes On The Line' again thrws some serious shots at Ja Rule once again and is a nice finish to the album.
There you go, an absolute classic with very high, high points, and not that many low points. Forever ingrained into the history of hip-hop and a timeless piece of work even now in 2020.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Patiently Waiting, Many Men (Wish Death), In Da Club, P.I.M.P., 21 Questions, Don't Push Me, Lifes On The Line
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Poor Lil Rich
OVERALL RATING: Solid 8.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*