Hate em’ or love em’, they’re back. After years of titillating/boring Hip-Hop fans with beefs, pot shots, slaps, and gossip, G-Unit has finally released a full length follow up to 2003’s Beg For Mercy. Those who’ve tired of the Unit’s pervasive presence in Hip-Hop’s gossip rags, should brace themselves for another summer+ of 50 and friends. They’ve backed up the chatter though, by creating an appealing album in Terminate On Sight.
Expected to come hard, the Queens crew gets dirty quick on the opener “Straight Outta Southside.” The beat is a modernization of Dre’s original from 1988, keeping the fierce bass line without seeming like an imitation. Banks, Yayo, and 50 take the cue and spit fervent gun-toting Molotov-throwing gangster rhymes. It’s an ideal opening track, setting the tone and engaging listeners by force.
Their gangster credentials established, the rest of the album is a clinic on modern East Coast gangster rap, balancing street jams like “Casualties Of War,” with club tracks like “I Like The Way She Do It.” What’s most impressive is the production; if Nas can be claimed to have a tin ear for beats then 50 is fucking Beethoven. There are a few big names behind the boards like Swizz Beatz, but in general, G-Unit continues their reliance on unnamed or in house beat makers without sacrificing any quality. From “Ready Or Not’s” dark xylophone chimes to the moving rhythmic parts of the familiar “Party Ain’t Over,” the beats keep the listener engaged in the album without overwhelming the lyricists.
Speaking of said lyricists, the chemistry and cohesiveness of G-Unit is reminiscent of successful groups past and present, and key to the album’s success. Each member (Buck included,) has moments on the album that they dominate, while maintaining a consistent level of quality throughout. Yes that includes the much maligned Tony Yayo, who wins most-improved honors. His performance on “No Days Off,” exemplifies an approach focused on mixing clever rhymes (“rebound quick like Greg Oden,”) with a wild man’s menace. It’s a style that many a second-tier Wu member used to make their mark and, for Yayo, it works. Banks’ throaty monotone hasn’t gone anywhere, and he shows flashes of the lyrical talent that made fans think he’d break free of 50’s shadow. In particular, “Ready Or Not” finds him at his pugilistic peak. The syllables barely make it out of his mouth, but his challenges to foes are the hardest and best rhymes on the album.
As for Boo Boo, he seems content to let the others shine. Whether humbled by the “L” to Kanye or trying to show he can be a team player, he rarely takes over a song the way you’d expect. This is not a bad thing, as it helps give the album the group feel it needs to succeed. And if 50 isn’t the displaying his sharpest lyrics, he remains one of the few rappers capable of giving songs a big time feel through sheer charisma and swagger. He makes this mark on the album through the choruses. And whether screaming “T.O.S,” mockingly baiting T.I. on “You So Tough,” or taking his inevitable turn behind the auto-tuner on “Rider Pt. 2,” he will have fans rhyming along.
When interviewed about this album, Lloyd Banks called it “a good album for this time in Hip-Hop.” That’s absolutely correct, not in the purely positive manner Banks refers to. It’s an embodiment of Hip-Hop’s present. The production is stronger and more dynamic than the lyrics. The balance of club and thug flirts with becoming formulaic, rescued only by maintaining high quality throughout. It breaks no boundaries, and if the lyrics are meant to conjure danger, the reality is the Unit play it safe on Terminate On Sight.
If you’re looking for the next big breakthrough in rhyming or lyrics, look elsewhere. Otherwise for a heatrock of an album topped with a heavy dose of bravado, the Unit’s got you covered.
Watch — G-Unit T.O.S. Preview