Money for nothing?
As 50 CENT makes his live Scottish debut, the jury is still out on whether he rocks or sucks. Fair-minded as ever, we looked at both arguments. Does this house believe he’s hip hop gold or Eminem’s tuppenny ha’penny stooge’?
Words: Hugh Leask (for) 8: Mark Robertson (against)
hen 5t) ('ent “as recently asked to he the lirst eyer guest editor oi
l'S rap maga/ine. .\'.\'l.. it conﬁrmed his status as the higgest hip
hop artist ol‘ the modern era (saye for his mentor. Marshall Mathers Ill). (‘unis Jackson from Queens. .\'e\y York who lirst taught us the line art ol‘ mugging people on his lW‘) dehut single ‘lloyy to Roh is. without question. the most hyped rapper to haye emerged l'rom the Big .-\pple since a certain Notorious BIG lirst started destroying open mic sessions in the early ‘)(),s. But does Mr ('ent Iiyc up to all the hype‘.’
We all know the stories of hoyy he was .shot nine times. ol' hoyy he signed a million-dollar contract with liminem and Dr Dre. and him he's traded lyrical hloyys with the mind-hogglingly had .la Rule. But “hat of his music. perhaps the most important thing'.’ It's may'he a cliche. hut the hoy l~'iddy‘ isn't simply a rapper; he‘s a phenomenon. His /illion-se|ling (in Riv/i or Die ’I‘ry'in' \yas oyerseen hy arguath the greatest hip hop producer ey er and the hest emcee aliye.
Yet \y'hateyer you think ahout the merits (or other“ isel ol‘ l)re and lim. it’s clear that they took 50's uncompromising sound. sanded doyyn the rough edges and. in doing so. helped create one ol‘ the linest alhums ol‘ 3003. The dehut from eyeryone‘s layourite hullet-magnet. and all the l'urore .surroumling it. has penetrated hip hop l'olklore. much like the good Doctor's 'I'lit' ('Iimnit‘ did a decade ago.
He may get people's hacks up. hut listening to St) (cut and his (i-l'nit compadres hast heads is ahout a thousand times more e\citing than hearing the pretentious chin-stroking poetry -corner dirge ol‘ Sage l‘rancis and that ‘lel‘tlield‘ .-\nticon croyy d. Just like some of the greatest hip hop e\ er made. from .\'\\'.~\ to the Beatnuts to Mohh Deep. 50 ('ent’s masic is crass. misogynistic. \‘iolent and nihilistic. 'I‘hat’s \\ hat makes it so hrilliant. Sl) (‘ent killing hip hop‘.’ Don't huy' that one l'or a minute.
THIS BULLET- MAGN T H S PENE IgA FOLK
() (’ent isn't killing hip hop. He's just had. pure and simple.
Lightning neyer \ll‘ikc\ the same place tyyice \(l Dr Dre and
liminem‘s musical I'e\o|ulion \yill he the only one eyer to hail lrom that camp. and Mr Jackson simply doesn't hay e the musical clout to change the world. liyer since hip hop hecame a truly glohal commodity in the inusic industry. it has alyyays rested on a small numher of cash coyy s. A prime example is the continued exploitation ol' the late great Tupac Shakur. .-\ truckload oi alhums ol' unreleased raps pinned to toe-curlineg poor hacking hay e emerged since his death in 10% alhums which are not only deeply \yrong hut can‘t touch most ol the intisic the great man made \y hen he \\ as aliye. 50 (em \yon‘t reach this status. as he's itist the next in a long line ol' mediocre rhymers cranking out some gnarly' cliched tales from the street tor a l‘eyy dollars.
He's yet another \yho is stumhling doyyn the hlind alley \yay ol‘ gangsta rap. Shot nine times'.’ So he \yasn't smart enough to stay out ol‘ the gunmen's \yay. It may make him hard hut in reality he's a punch drunk iiioi plying outdated ideas. (iood hip hop doesn't haye to he clean liy ing. hland or purposely ohtuse: just ask Roots .\lanuya. (iang Starr or ()utKast. It just has to he lresh and 5t) ('ent's lloyy is ﬂat as last night's ('ristal.
.\lost signilicantly. perhaps. it) (em \in| l'oreyer he the protege. in the \ideo to his breakthrough single. 'ln 1):: ('Iiih. he‘s portrayed as an e\periment l'or Dr Dre and liminem. Protege. they call him. (iuinea pig. more like. 50 (‘ent is a puppet \y ho \y i|| he dropped \y hen he has seryed his purposed helore the real masters. l)re and lim. return to take centre stage. (iv! Riv/i or Div 'l‘ry-in’l’ Well. he's certainly \yealthy non. so we can only hope he l'olloyys in that hailim ed line ol' one-alhum \tonders and returns to ohscurity to lick his thulleti \younds.
50 Cent plays SECC, Glasgow, Thu 9 Oct. 2 5-, THE LIST 15