50 Cent has promised to release the lead single off his new album by week’s end. Given the abundance of aggressive content in the deluge of songs Mr. 14 for 14 has released in the past few weeks (including guest appearances with Pusha T and Gucci Mane), one wonders what to expect from the single for his first studio album since 2009’s Before I Self Destruct. Given that his most recent release was also his least selling, there’s plenty of pressure for him to stage a comeback, not unlike another Queens-bred emcee.
It’s hard to imagine a time when a Hip-Hop album would be poorly received due to having overly materialistic and commercial content, but that’s exactly the world LL Cool J found himself in 1989 after the release of his third album, Walking With A Panther. While the album sold over a million copies, the glossy production and abundance of love songs caused critics and fans alike to call Mr. Smith’s credibility into question. Unbelievably, at age 21, LL Cool J was in need of a comeback…and fast. LL responded to the taunts from the critics, professional and amateur, with what many consider his greatest album, Mama Said Knock You Out. Fully aware that he had to remind the listeners that he had not lost his edge, he released the granite-hard title track, silencing naysayers and re-establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the process.
50 finds himself in a similar position leading up to the release of his fourth album, Black Magic. His previous effort, Before I Self Destruct’s highest charting single was the Ne-Yo assisted, “Have A Baby By Me.” Topping out at #28 on the Billboard charts, it was a minor hit, but didn’t come close to meeting the lofty standards set by his past success. Seeming to sense some of the backlash, and perhaps also sensing the groundswell of support given to his G-Unit cohort Lloyd Banks’ street-oriented singles, our anti-hero rang in the new year by releasing a torrent of freestyles that hearkened back to the time when the Southside Jamaica Queens emcee was known more for ending careers than starring in movies.
Of course, throughout his career, 50 has released free projects like 2008’s Return of the Body Snatchers and 2009’s War Angel LP, that are a bit edgier than his albums, but that same level of aggression hasn’t always shown up in the choice of his singles. So what can we expect? Will he try to maintain the momentum gained from his recent freestyles, or will he try to recapture some of his past success with a single along the lines of “21 Questions” or “Candy Shop?” If we know anything about 50 Cent, we know that he is calculating. Whether he is closing multi-million dollar deals, or gathering information to expose his enemies,
Curtis Jackson plots his moves very carefully. That’s not a bad trait for him to have at this point in his career, because this next single could either give his career a second wind, or leave him on the sidelines gasping as an opponent takes the lead for good.