AUSTIN — With the intervention of Fuse TV and this Texas capitol’s noise code, 50 Cent’s performance of “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” was an exercise in efficiency — even with the preeminence of special guest Eminem.
The Queens-bred rapper/actor/businessman made a major return to his craft on Friday night, performing his debut album in full for about 4,000 fans at the Shady 2.0 SXSW Showcase at Austin Music Hall. Additionally, the cable music network fired up the engines around 11 p.m. for a live broadcast, which almost certainly helped keep festivities on track for an approximate midnight finale. Thus, Fif and his friends settled on a bullsh*t-free format, banging out the hit-after-hit that commanded that 2003 album.
50 Cent bounded on stage in a Yankees ballcap and a camouflage bullet-proof-vest — natch — proceeding a minute of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” The tracklist unfurled in its original order, which meant an early arrival of Slim Shady, on third track “Patiently Waiting.” Sporting a gray hoodie up over his head and embracing the warm weather with a pair of cargo shorts, Em lurch onto the stage to the sound of shrill excitement. He later returned for “Don’t Push Me” (sans Lloyd Banks) and the short-lived encore “Crack a Bottle,” which earned him and Fif a Grammy in 2009.
Never to waste an opportunity to prop up his G-Unit rising stars, Curtis Jackson lent his stage to Kidd Kidd and Precious Paris for “Do Your Thing,” the sole interruption to the “Get Rich” flow. Other pals like Tony Yayo and even recent Super Bowl winner Victor Cruz were on hand. At moments, the night was also about who didn’t show up for the party. Nate Dogg’s absence was keenly felt on hit “21 Questions,” particularly since his passing was a year ago, almost to the day; Governor filled his shoes instead. And considering his long history with Em, Shady and 50’s career, Dr. Dre was rumored to be flanking the side stage, but was nowhere to be found.
Still, the fast pace made for an exhilarating night, with the headliner grinning between songs, looking fresh and frequently thrilled to be on stage again and rarely giving his five-piece backers a break. Old videos, succint animations and clips from the “Get Rich” film flashed behind him, as easy reminders of his influence, though toward the end he lost some of his wind and relied more heavily on the programme vocals. The crowd equally wearied on some of the lesser-known of the 16 tracks, which momentarily miffed the performer.
“I guess it’s not what have I done, but what have I done for you lately, is that right?” he posited about the audience’s “I got what I came for” attitude.
He disappeared as the hype had to build back up for “Crack a Bottle,” after which Em signed off with “We love you…”
“I wanna stay,” Fif smiled after, hinting at yet another encore. Then some confusion, a precious tease of “I Get Money” and then the anti-climax of the house lights.
There wasn’t any broad announcement about 50 Cent’s intentions to take the “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” revival anywhere else, or hint of more new music. But Em’s appearance and the evident love from his label means some hatchet has been buried, perhaps paving the way for something bigger than a mid-sized festival return.
Check out a full stream, until it, y’know, disappears. “Patiently Waiting” by itself is below, too.