Title: Get Rich or Die Tryin’
Artist, year: 50 Cent, 2003
Labels: Shady, Aftermath, Interscope
Singles: “In da Club,” “21 Questions,” “Many Men,” “P.I.M.P.,” “If I Can’t.”
A timeless oath
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a bibliographical tale of a man who’d been shot nine times and survived. It’s a raw, candid, vivid, and an explosive welcome party to the hip-hop world for Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson. It is not just an album title — it’s a never-give-in timeless oath that a street hustler like the G-Unit frontman lives his life.
The words in the early 2000s were, “50 Cent got shot nine times but he survived.” At the time when hip-hop was still freshly mourning the death of two of its biggest superstars: Tupac and Biggie, cheating nine slugs from a 9mm death was, and still is, surely a testament. He was already the hottest underground East Coast emcee before signing to Eminem & Dr. Dre’s Shady/Aftermath joint deal worth up to $1 million. He was not “a rookie with personality.” He is the hip-hop industry, a marketing genius, who backs his claims with skills.
The result is Get Rich or Die Tryin’: a 53-minute collection of dark, solid, versatile, potty-mouthed, and boastful records. 50 is a hungry hell-raising talent, and the rap star shows no sign of slowing down even at the height of the controversy.
Combine the hype, the swagger, and the lethal pen game that 50 has, and you’ll have one of the highest-selling hip-hop debuts any rapper could ever dream of. Plus, Eminem and Dr. Dre, who were undoubtedly were on the top of their game, are on the wheel all over the record, making a perfect match made in heaven. It’s arrived at the right time, the right moment, and from the right person, and it’s also clearly the most hyped debut since Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle or Nas’ Illmatic.
The tracklist and the inter-track skits are solid. After kicking off the album with a suspenseful welcome in “What Up Gangsta,” 50 pledges his loyalty to the Shady Records honcho (Ay, Em, you know my favorite white boy, right?) in tag-team combo “Patiently Waiting.” “Many Men” is dark, and it boasts 50’s street credibility, “Now it’s clear that I’m here, for a real reason / ‘Cause he got hit like I got hit, but he ain’t fucking breathing.” “In da Club” has proven itself as a timeless club hit and a good-time single that precedents the album’s tale of 50’s dramatic rise and his longtime nemesis Ja Rule (“Back Down,” “Like My Style,” and “Pool Lil Rich. “) Nate Dogg compliments 50 musically in silky-smooth gangsta R&B “21 Questions,” because after all, 50 is still a lover behind the tough-guy persona.
In short, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ belongs in one of the greatest debuts in hip-hop, if not one of the 2000s classics. 50’s pen is a merciless killer that won’t stop. Labels didn’t want to touch him due to his past associations and long-simmering beef with Ja Rule and Murda Inc, but he was relentless. Sonically, Dr. Dre perfectly captures the testosterone-fueled swagger persona that 50 embraces, making Get Rich or Die Tryin’ a timeless masterpiece.
In fact, it’s more than just an album title: it’s something that 50 Cent has sworn to live his life with during the tumultuous ride of his career. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ represents the voice of the underdogs and how a man, who’d been blackballed right and left, managed to blueprint his comeback to the game.