Posts Tagged '50 Cent'

200 Or Less: Flight 187

Fifty flirts with fatalism. Forget flirts, fancies futility. While a reluctant Jay-Z downplays conflict and heralds success, 50 Cent openly contests the value of earthly gains. Curtis Jackson has seen the mountaintop; his G4 jet crashes into it. Most compelling about “Flight 187”: video mural depicting a confused but decidedly ironic multi-millionaire. If celebration and champagne are in vogue, macabre meltdowns are 50’s leverage, his levee stemming the tide.

Drake, the reluctant baller, has purred about the pitfalls of progress. 50 hasn’t pretended as much about his need for riches. Here, the first signs of wealth’s drag on his conscience. Not one for window shopping, he’s indulged even the negative parts of fame, namely feuding and vanity. But the yield has been curious.

“Brought you from the hood/Destination, hell or heaven?”

The floating question mark deranges his song nearly as much as its groaning vocal thump. In one “mm,” there’s baby mama drama, death visions, astuteness. Like Biggie before him, 50’s been ready to die from the inception. Specifically, it’s the imminence of his dream. As he nears the symbolic end, life’s hold tightens inexplicably. Black manhood ultimately corrodes vitality, discarding dreamers in the offing.

I’m a rider.



If You Look At My Life

How to Understand Autobiographical Rap

Around 2001, hip-hop became more familiar with the force of its voice. Although artists had always experimented with the confessional style, some careers are earmarked with that revealing trait more than others. For instance, Eminem, Kanye West, Prodigy and Joe Budden each exemplify using a stylistic shift to capture loyal followers. Earlier still, Nas made Illmatic a diary of Queensbridge living. On the other hand, artists with highly anticipated debuts who compiled an array of disjunctive songs with flavor-of-the-month producers regretted the choice sincerely. Jadakiss made this mistake with Kiss The Game Goodbye, which seemed to betray his gritty personal affect established with the Lox. Again, as the new millennium came around most recognizable figures in hip-hop fell on one side or the other of these sincerely crafted personal diaries. Independent and small label rappers like Aesop Rock, Sage Francis and Atmosphere went far left of center. Their self-styled memoirs placed them squarely with the conscious and/or underground crowd.

But it was telling of the mainstream that Kanye West essentially did the same kind of record, with a few dance hits parsed throughout. “All Falls Down” and “Through the Wire” of College Dropout signified his conversion to that mode by addressing issues of the self in order of priority: dropped out of school, chased record career, became a vindicated star. Continue reading ‘If You Look At My Life’