Tuesday, April 3, 2007

50 Cent's Make Or Break Time

A series of recent events has all but ended any hope of G-Unit reclaiming their lost sales dominance. However, whether you enjoy 50’s music or not, with over 14 million sales of his first two major label albums, he has to be considered a contender to become the first rapper in over a year to move 2 million copies. Early returns aren't promising and signs are beginning to suggest that 50's attempts to cause contoversy and love of beef may be foreshadoweing a fall from the top more befitting of Tony Montana. Lloyd Banks & Young Buck may be able to blame some of their sales declines on rampant bootlegging, but such a precipitous fall from grace can only be blamed by public decline in G-Unit interest. How else to explain Banks going from over 1.5 million copies to just cracking 300,000? What's more astounding is that what Rotten Apple lacked in star power, it made up for with impeccable production and Banks' most inspired rapping since then G-Unit mixtape era. What's sadder still is the fact that Young Buck's impressive sophomore set will also be swept under the rug (132K the first week after 2 videos when even Mike Jones can sell close to 1.5 million, ouch), thanks to shameless stunts, like Tony Yayo's Slapgate or 50's inclusion of a month old Cam'ron diss on Buck The World. Evidently, 50 himself likes his chances to not only clear 2 million, but maintain his worldwide average of 12 million copies an album. He was quoted on Hot 97 as saying that no less an authority than famed Interscope exec Jimmy Iovine agrees with this assessment. I myself was skeptical until hearing the first 50 song that he has leaked off his new album. By now, many of us have already heard Straight To The Bank and have formed our own opinions on it. From a pure rap aesthetic, it's an undeniable banger. Dre clearly took his time and crafted a banger to put some of the lifeless beats on The Massacre to shame. I can easily see this being a Disco Inferno type of unofficial single to set off promotions for the new album. What this all boils down to now is whether the man called Fiddy will either emulate labelmate Eminem and become America's new favorite bad boy or resign himself to a Puffyesque career of coasting off past sales accomplishments and creating the occasional listenable album (although Press Play was one of more slept on albums of the past year). 50, notoriously indifferent about using big name production, has apparently decided to open his checkbook for more beats from the good Doctor and the ridiculously red-hot Timbaland. Judging from the 50/Timbaland/Tony Yayo collabo off the Timbaland solo album (why Yayo got on this and not Buck is bewildering, he would have murdered the track), it seems that Tim has a good idea for creating backdrops to supplement 50's slurry threat rap act that has replaced his charismatic survival appeal that he rode back into the rap game on. This all sets the table for the next year or two that will define the future of rap. The Carter III and T.I. Vs. T.I.P. will decide the future of the current southern d-boy craze, and Eminem & Dr. Dre are finally going to drop their new albums, with Eminem's receiving a larger dose of Dre involvement than Encore. Bear in mind that Jay-Z is surely at the very least pondering his next move after the critically lukewarm response to Kingdom Come (mostly unwarranted when you consider that Jay-Z's worst album is still better than most of what sells nowadays). 50 Cent is simply the going to be the first out of the gate. While it is not a great sign that Buck, Banks and Yayo's first week sales combined could not come within 200,000 copies of Kingdom Come, especially given Yayo's claims that he was going platinum in one week, it is possible that 50 could reverse this trend. I, for one, will be watching closely.

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