The Massacre (2005) "Different day, same s---," intones 50 Cent near the beginning of The Massacre . Pardon us, Fitty, but really? After selling more than 7 million… 2005-03-03 50 Cent Hip-Hop/Rap
Music Review

The Massacre (2005)

50 Cent | BIG & RICH Blame fame for the lack of luster on 50's latest
Image credit: 50 Cent: Zach Gold
BIG & RICH Blame fame for the lack of luster on 50's latest

Details Release Date: Mar 03, 2005; Lead Performance: 50 Cent; Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

''Different day, same s---,'' intones 50 Cent near the beginning of The Massacre. Pardon us, Fitty, but really? After selling more than 7 million copies of Get Rich or Die Tryin' and becoming a new kind of heartthrob (thug as sex symbol) to teenage girls every-where, 50 Cent is a made man. And the spoils of that success are the recurring theme of The Massacre, on which he graduates from unblinking gangsta revivalist to hip-hop pasha.

Here, 50 confronts a dilemma that's challenged many before him: What to sing (or rap) about once immediate fame arrives? His answer: the predictable topic of stardom itself. In songs like ''Ryder Music'' and ''Position of Power,'' 50, who once dodged bullets, is now reveling in super-models and ''life in the fast lane, ''albeit in a nonchalant, almost indifferent tone. Sex also plays a bigger role here than on Get Rich, but it's hardly of the romantic sort — more than ever, women are for the taking. Bottom-heavy club tracks like ''Get in My Car,'' ''Just a Lil Bit,'' and the appealing throwaway single ''Candy Shop'' (''after you work up a sweat, you can play with the stick'' — and no, he's not talking about an old Atari console) aren't seductions; they're orders.

The speaker-rattling sonic booms of Get Rich still pop up. But in another reflection of 50's ambitions, less intimidating disco samples and cruising R&B grooves are also part of the fabric, as are 50's own singing and rapping. (He changes his timbre so often, from burly rhyming to lilting half-croon, that you may think there are more guests than there actually are.) ''Build You Up'' embodies the revamped 50: The song's silky hook is reminiscent of old Maze hits, and it's sung by new buddy Jamie Foxx.

The Massacre's depictions of 50's high-rolling new world are probably as true to life as the unrepentant street sagas of Get Rich; after all, 50 is a rich, presumably pampered pop star. But even with Eminem showing up again to lay down a few tracks, the new songs (and subject) aren't as absorbing as the old. 50's voice has always had a casual slothfulness to it, and paired with the right, vivid track — ''Many Men (Wish Death)'' from the last album, say — it could produce unexpectedly poignant results. On The Massacre, he tends to sound more self-satisfied than hungry; defending his rap-world turf in recitations like ''I'm Supposed to Die Tonight'' and ''This Is 50,'' he seems almost distracted.

When he moves beyond hip-hop-star narcissism, 50 can still tap into his old steely authority. It's there in ''I Don't Need 'Em,'' produced with cinematic grit by Buckwild, in which he's an on-the-edge drug dealer. It's there in the ingratiating, hooky taunt of ''Piggy Bank,'' yet another tweaking of now-defeated rival Ja Rule, along with Jadakiss, Fat Joe, and others. (Yes, 50 can still be kind of funny.) In the scariest-by-far track, ''A Baltimore Love Thing,'' the narrator appears to be an abusive creep with a junkie girlfriend, until you realize it's the voice of heroin itself: ''If you give birth, I'll already be in love with your kids,'' he growls at her. It's the old love-as-addiction metaphor, yet in the context of the album, both the topic and the sleazy, low-rider beats feel fresh. ''A Baltimore Love Thing'' slays you in a way that much of the surprisingly nonlethal Massacre doesn't do often enough.

Originally posted Mar 07, 2005 Published in issue #810 Mar 11, 2005 Order article reprints