Probably the most hyped debut album by a rap artist in about a decade, most likely sinceSnoopDoggystyle(1993) or perhaps(1994),50 CentGet Rich or Die Tryincertainly arrived amid massive expectations. In fact, the expectations were so massive that they overshadowed the music itself –50becoming more of a phenomenon than simply a rapper — so massive that you had to be skeptical, particularly given the marketing-savvy nature of the rap world. Even so,Get Richis indeed an impressive debut, not quite on the level of such landmark debuts as the aforementioned ones bySnooporNas– or those byBiggieWu-Tang, orDMXeither — but impressive nonetheless, definitely ushering in50as one of the truly eminent rappers of his era. The thing, though, is that50isnt exactly a rookie, and its debatable as to whether or notGet Richcan be considered a true debut (see the unreleasedPower of the Dollar and theGuess Whos Back?compilation ). That debate aside, however,Get Richplays like a blueprint rap debut should: theres a tense, suspenseful intro (What Up Gangsta), an ethos-establishing tag-team spar withEminem(Patiently Waiting), a street-cred appeal (Many Men [Wish Death]), a tailor-made mass-market good-time single (In da Club), a multifaceted tread through somber ghetto drama (from High All the Time to Gotta Make It to Heaven), and finally three bonus tracks that reprise50s previously released hits (Wanksta, U Not Like Me, Lifes on the Line) — in that precise order. In sum,Get Richis an incredibly calculated album, albeit an amazing one. After all, when co-executive producerEminemraps, Take someBigand somePac/And you mix them up in a pot/Sprinkle a littleBig Lon top/What the f*ck do you got? you know the answer. GiveEm(who produces two tracks) andDr. Dre(who does four) credit for laying out the red carpet here, and also give50credit for reveling brilliantly in his much-documented mystique — from his gun fetish to his witty swagger,50has the makings of a street legend, and its no secret. And though he very well could be the rightful successor to theBiggieJiggaNastriptych,Get Richisnt quite the masterpiece50seems capable of, impressive or not. But until he drops that truly jaw-dropping album — or falls victim to his own hubris — this will certainly do.
Get Rich or Die Tryin