After several leaks and buzzworthy singles, New York emcee 50 Cent, aka Curtis Jackson, attempts to reclaim his early-career fame with the anticipated Animal Ambition. The 11-track LP finds the G-Unit boss returning to the street flow over gritty backdrops and catchy hooks that made his Get Rich or Die Tryin’ such a worldwide, multi-platinum success. Enlisting production from some of the top heads in the game, including Dr. Dre, Frank Dukes, and many more, 50 Cent fights to survive in a forever-changing music genre. Unfortunately,with a list of top talent and features, the fault in Curtis’ project is that it is the old 50 Cent for a new generation.
Following the split from his longtime label Shady/Aftermath Records, Animal Ambition shows the hunger and willing for 50 Cent to continue to deliver some new material that captures his signature flow and sound. The opening Frank Dukes-produced track Hold On is very reminiscent of the Get Rich or Die Tryin’ album that made 50 Cent such a mainstream success. While exercising some minimalistic lyrics with a street-ready sound, Don’t Worry ‘Bout It finds the rapper taking more of a backseat over the Charlie Beatz’s production. Jackson continues the same trend of dropping a nonchalant flow with a catchy hook while still keeping the generic street element with a well-placed feature from southern emcee, Yo Gotti. The fight to survive on this project is rather dull compared the 50 Cent from the days before signing the deal.
There is no denying that Curtis Jackson is one of the smartest rappers in the industry, but the intelligence is not heard through the basic elements and generic theme that Animal Ambition carries. The title track Animal Ambition is a gritty tune that is supposed to be a threatening listen to those who question his drive, but comes off as just a parody in itself. The lackluster hook and simple lyrics do little to hold the listener’s attention. The following song, Smoke brings in Trey Songz for an easy radio hit, but has little substance or interesting qualities, other than a moderate buzzworthy single for 50 Cent to fight for relevancy on the radio and charts. Twisted featuring No Probz and Winner’s Circle featuring Gourdon Banks have the same elements of the monotonous-street theme with braggadocio rhymes that just fall flat.
Not all of Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win is easily overlooked. Irregular Heartbeat featuring Jadakiss and newcomer, Kidd Kidd, has 50 Cent stepping out of his comfort zone to speak on his rap image becoming a gimmick. Pilot is one of the more redeeming listens with a return to the gritty old-New York rap sound and solid production. Again, 50 Cent finds himself letting listeners know that he is the top dog in the game, but the loop of the Shamtax production is what keeps the tune interesting enough to prevent listeners from hitting the “next” button and is one of the more appealing tunes that the artist has dropped in the past couple years.
Although 50 Cent has become a household name and one of the top-selling artists in the industry, his latest Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win is a lackluster fight to survive and stay relevant on the charts and in fans’ minds. Without the solid production, features, and catchy hooks, the hustling and street persona in his lyrics quickly becomes monotonous and flat.
Since 50 Cent’s major label debut, the artist has gone on to make multi-million dollar deals that do not include music. As Curtis continues to take in revenue from other avenues of fame, the music has taken a backseat, and the ambition and hunger are not there. The sound has become generic, cookie-cutter, and soulless, while doing little to maintain his street persona that he so desperately holds dear. Rappers’ today reach success on the charts and in fans’ eyes by being more ambitious and emotive in their music and lyrics. The street persona for 50 Cent no longer is appealing when he is making Good Morning America appearances, budding up with Meryl Streep, and dressing as Maleficent during a Jimmy Kimmel Live skit.
Opinion by Tyler Cole