The numbers are in and they are not pretty. 50 Cent‘s much-delayed and hyped Before I Self Destruct sold a shocking 159,700 copies, a stunning figure from a man who once moved 1.15 million albums in one week (2005’s The Massacre). But while no one should ever bet against 50 for a future return to the top of the rap food chain (the best-selling author, clothing peddler, cologne and Vitamin Water-shilling pop culture icon didn’t make close to $400 million during his career just on sheer dumb luck), VIBE saw it coming. Read on. —Keith Murphy
? Because John Lennon Put Us On
The “smart Beatle” foreshadowed things to come when he wrote “Instant karma’s gonna get you / Gonna knock you right in the head.” Okay, so maybe 50 never heard the stinging 1970 slap of sobriety that is “Instant Karma!” But to paraphrase Tupac, it’s the realest shit Lennon ever wrote. The Queens, NY rap behemoth has sold over 30 million albums worldwide since 2003’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and was all too happy to clown Fat Joe, Jadakiss, and Rick Ross for going triple plastic. And yeah, Officer Ricky may be an easy target, but how’s this for irony–the Bawse’s Deeper Than Rap outsold Fiddy’s first-week sales by about 1,000 units and some change without the help of an iTunes hook-up (competing labels balked at the two weeks worth of online sales that were strangely added on to 50 Cent’s Before I Self Destruct‘s first week sales). Damn, homie.
? Beef Was Over-Cooked
50’s mastery of utilizing confrontation to fuel SoundScan numbers throughout his career has been nothing short of brilliant. But there’s a thin line between being the lovable bad guy and a straight up bully of Gouch proportions. The lovable bad guy ethers Ja Rule‘s annoying career with a devastating sense of humor, dropping truth-soaked cracks like, “You sing for hoes and sound like the cookie monster.” The Gouch films a video posing with rival Rick Ross’ baby mother and children. Kinda lame.
? 50 Makes Jay-Z Come Off Like… Nas
You know you are a certifiable asshole when you can make a rap mogul with the gall to name himself after God (Jay Hova) look like hip-hop’s favorite underdog Nasir Jones. We don’t know what’s worse, the fact that 50’s string of transparent disses aimed at Jay-Z have been met with smirking, pat-on-the-head silence (a tactic also used by Lil Wayne) or his teaming up with former disgruntled Roc-A-Fella soldier Beanie Sigel in a surprisingly tepid attempt to take down the Jigga man–who is currently enjoying his job title as the Biggest Rapper On the Planet.
? Curtis Was All The Proof We Needed
Truth be told, 2007’s relentlessly infectious “I Get Money” was 50’s biggest and best single in some years. But when you depend on disingenuous collaborations to help your commercial bottom line (Akon, Justin Timberlake, the Pussycat Dolls‘ Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke and Mary J. Blige), you end up with the kind of pandering sing-songy release that made 50’s former nemesis Ja Rule such an omnipresent punchline. It makes you wonder if Curtis would have sold it’s first-week tally of 691,000 if not for his savvy, manufactured, and at times baiting beef with Kanye West, whose Graduation sold nearly one million units.
? He’s A Better Showman Than A Rapper
With all respect to Mo’Nique, George Lopez, and Wanda Sykes, Curtis Jackson should have his own talk show. Seriously, the man gives some of the most hilarious, oh-shit-he-really-didn’t-say-that interviews since Christopher Walken. We’re still waiting for 50 to expand his laugh-inducing Pimpin’ Curly webisodes to the big screen in the mold of Borat. Hey, it can happen.