It’s been a long yet lucrative road to the release of Before I Self Destruct, 50 Cent’s much documented final record on his Interscope contract. Possibly the genre’s last mega-star before Hip-Hop was regressed by the digital age, 50 saw endless mounds of success through business ventures, movies and of course, platinum plaques. Although less notably, popular opinion reads that the caliber of his albums have slipped considerably since his towering debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. Especially when factoring the runaway success of the lead single “In Da Club”–a phenom 50 has been obviously been trying to duplicate ever since. Taken all this into account, the G-Unit general retreads his steps to familiar waters for his 4th LP.
At times, 50 appears to bask in his trip to memory lane, given the majority of the record’s overly aggressive undertones. If that what it takes to make good music, however, then so be it. Before I Self Destruct’s fuse is lit instantly once the needle hits, taking 50 in a state of psychosis as he spazzes on ignited gems like Dr. Dre’s “Death To My Enemies” and the bone-chilling “The Invitation” where 50 openly begs for drama.
And when there’s drama, there’s murder. There’s no restrictions (or tact) in Fiddy’s tongue when it comes to being “So Disrespectful.” Over Tha Bizness’ sinister mix of escalating key chords and machine gun fire for decoration, 50 throws a few of his former associates under the bus and puts it in reverse to ensure he doesn’t miss. Eminem shows up as the only featured rapper on “Pyscho,” but the duo proceed to make Norman Bates proud as they make a killing with flows seemingly boosted with adrenaline.
Content-wise, BISD is mostly consistent in outlining the fabricated precedence 50 sets from the beginning. Typical fare like the requisitite my-girl-is-my gun “Hold Me Down” and intimidating “Crime Wave” round out the edges rather nicely. Quality wise though, the album’s mechanics begin to self destruct midway when Fif deems a “Rapper’s Delight” remake is acceptable in 2K9 on the lame “Gangster’s Delight” and tries to sneak in a potential club hit with the weaker “Get It Hot.”
Perhaps a more disorderly contradiction is the fact some of the more “cleaner” records serve as the more focused ones, despite not necessarily fitting in the tracklist. “Baby By Me” marks an umpteenth radio-ready sizzler for Mr. Jackson; strengthened by a crooning Ne-Yo and snazzy bassline. Same goes for “Do You Think About Me,” a reflective look back on past loves which is sure to cater to the female listener who is otherwise alienated for the greater part of the album. Even the inexplicable closer “Could Have Been You” is a polished record that save for the fact its positive attributes, has no business on the block with the rest of the wolves.
The next step in 50’s career crossroads still remains unclear but BISD is indicator Curtis Jackson is still capable of channeling his original sound. Maybe when he fades to black, he can put together all the pieces in their entirety.