Now that I reviewed The Hunger For More 2, I figured I'd take you all way back to the day where if you mentioned "G-Unit" in a conversation, people would look at you like you had three heads because, you know, it didn't even exist yet.
A lot of people mistakenly think that Get Rich or Die Tryin' was 50 Cent's debut album. Of course, they would be wrong, as 50's true introduction to the rap game came back in 2000 when he put out Power Of The Dollar, an album that was never officially released due to the fact that Fiddy was dropped from Columbia Records because of the whole shooting incident.
At this point, 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, was just a hungry kid looking for a place in the hip-hop world. Despite the fact that he was a neophyte in the field, though, there are many stories and controversies tied to Power Of The Dollar that fit 50's now well-known persona like a glove.
It is speculated that the song "Ghetto Qu'ran" is the reason why there was an attempted murder on Curtis, as it is said that he was "snitching" on the track. Also, the album's first single, "How To Rob," disses every rapper (playfully, though) under the sun, as 50 raps about how he could rob every artist in the game. Some of the artists he mentioned (Big Punisher, Jay-Z, and Kurupt to name a few) took this as a real diss and reciprocated in kind, releasing 50 Cent disses of their own.
Since then, 50 has become rap's most polarizing figure. His cutthroat personality has created an endless amount of haters who look to jump on his case at the slightest provocation. Of course, there are those (like me) who enjoy 50's antics and think that, due to the overwhelming amount of flak he catches for "ruining" hip-hop, he is actually somewhat underrated (yes, I said it) in the rap game.
That said, let's examine Power Of The Dollar.
1. The Hit
Packing a feel-good beat produced by Randy Allen, "The Hit" represents a very solid opening to the album, and 50 immediately lets everyone know that he means business: "You cats got to be sick, to think 50 can't spit, better check my batting average, I always make hits." No one can argue with the latter part of that line; that's for sure.
2. The Good Die Young
This is my favorite 50 Cent song of all-time and one of my favorite songs, period. Backed by a very soulful and melancholy beat done by Al West, 50 talks about how short life can be and how everything can be taken away from you in a second. "I know we all gotta go, but I'd hate to go fast, then again I don't think it'd be fun to stick around and go last," spits a pensive 50. Mr. Jackson proves on this cut that he can be introspective and rap about something that has meaning. The hook on this is especially good.
3. Corner Bodega
"Corner Bodega" is short, spanning one minute and thirty-eight seconds, but many people consider this to be one of Power Of The Dollar's best tracks. The beat, produced by L.E.S., is pretty good, but the content (which is all about drug dealing) just doesn't interest me very much.
4. Your Life's On The Line
Most people know this track from Get Rich or Die Tryin', but it made its debut on Power Of The Dollar. This is actually the song that got Eminem to sign 50, as he heard this and was incredibly impressed. The Terence Dudley beat knocks, but that and 50's actual verses are made negligible by the hook, which is one of my favorite hooks of all time: "Scream murdaaa, I don't believe you, murdaaa, fuck around and leave you, murdaaa, I don't believe you, murda murda, your life's on the line." Sick.
5. That Ain't Gangsta
This is the first of many Trackmasters productions on the album, and while it is merely mediocre, 50 Cent's hook once again steals the show on this cut. It's too long for me to write here, but it consists of short phrases with 50 afterward saying "that ain't gangsta." He spits some solid lines, too, including: "I'll have 'em on some E.T. shit tryin' to phone home, in here a gemstar is like a nine milly chrome, it's similar, in fact they'll both split ya dome, scars are souvenirs, niggas always take 'em home."
6. As The World Turns
This record contains a pretty solid, laid-back beat by Red Spyda and a guest verse from Bun B. I love 50's delivery throughout this song, and that's what makes the track. There isn't anything special about "As The World Turns" lyrically, but, once again, I really dig 50's flow on it.
7. Ghetto Qu'ran
Which brings us to the infamous "snitch" song which, if you want to look at it technically, actually jumpstarted 50 Cent's career. 50 raps about the struggles of hustlers in the hood over a smooth, soulful Trackmasters beat (the production on this really is outstanding), but the first four lines of his first verse are probably the reason why he was shot: "Yo, when you hear talk of the southside, you hear talk of the team, see niggas feared Prince and respected Preme, for all you slow mothafuckas I'm a break it down iller, see Preme was the business man and Prince was the killer." 50's storytelling and the great beat make this one of the best cuts on Power Of The Dollar.
8. Da Repercussions
"Da Repercussions" contains yet another example of a sick hook by 50 Cent: "You niggas say somethin' slick, you'll get slapped for that, you niggas schemin' on some jewels, you'll get clapped for that, if y'all niggas want war, I got the mack for that, run up with some work, and get your head cracked for that." The production, done by Gowdy, is also great here. One of my favorite tracks off the project.
9. Money By Any Means
Trackmasters are on the beat again, laying down a solid production with some banging drums. Noreaga, who was huge in the game at this point in time, stops by and drops a guest verse. This cut is pretty typical, though, as the two rappers spit threatening lyrics about guns, drug dealing, etc.
10. Material Girl
Up until this point, each and every one of the songs on Power Of The Dollar have been hardcore, so "Material Girl" denotes a pretty significant change in direction. For now, at least. The record, which features R&B singer Dave Hollister, is about how girls are suddenly flooding to 50 because he is famous, and how said girls can get lost. I really love the upbeat Trackmasters production here. Solid song.
11. Thug Love
And the move away from the streets continues on "Thug Love," as 50 raps about how he keeps his girl iced and supplied with the goods. Destiny's Child is featured on the cut and add a very nice touch. The beat here, done by Rashad Smith, is ill, consisting of a continuous guitar string and some banging drums. There was supposed to be a music video for this track, but Fiddy was shot two days before the scheduled filming. This was Power Of The Dollar's second single, by the way.
12. Slow Doe
"Slow Doe," like "Corner Bodega," is one of the album's more popular songs on the street, and with good reason; the crawling, almost Middle-Eastern-flavored beat is addictive, and 50 spits some good "tough-guy" lines: "Yo nowadays niggas talk like they wanna get shot, like I won't grab the glock and run up in your spot, six double O drop I'll put two in your knot, and stick around and get every motherfucking thing you've got." I really like this record, which was produced by...you guessed it; Trackmasters.
13. Gun Runner
Why couldn't this track have been longer? It's only one minute and fifty-eight seconds long, but it's crazy. The beat (do I even need to say who produced it?) on this is ridiculously good, and 50, predictably, talks about blasting his foes.
14. You Ain't No Gangsta
Once again, it's the hook that makes this track so sick, but that doesn't mean Curtis doesn't drop some nice rhymes: "Get it through yo head, 50 Cent don't care, I cock triggers light the block up, iller than times square." Sha Self lays down a nice street beat here, too.
15. Power Of The Dollar
The album's title track is sick, from the beat by Trackmasters to the lyrics all the way down to 50's quick flow. This is arguably 50's best performance on the project, dropping three very solid verses and these ill punchlines: "I'm out of order, I turn your only daughter, into a transporter, before I die, I'm gonna see more blow than Rich Porter," and, "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm a 9 with two M's, if your man want to get involved, I'll bring it to him." Great record.
16. I'm a Hustler
DJ Scratch drops this sick beat for 50 Cent, who spits some realness: "Hate a liar more than I hate a thief, a thief is only after my salary a liar is after my reality." Later, he raps: "If it's on motherfucker, believe I'm gonna ride, I'm the type to swallow my blood before I swallow my pride." One of his more impressive lyrical performances on Power Of The Dollar, without a doubt.
17. How To Rob
The first single happens to be the last track on the album, and this is another one of the songs that caused so many problems for 50 Cent early on in his career. As I stated earlier, he spends this four-minute, twenty-four second cut jokingly dissing countless artists. For example: "Catch Rae, Ghost, and RZA for them funny ass rings, tell Sticky gimme the cash before I empty three," and, probably 50's best lines of the song, "I'll rob Pun without a gun, snatch his piece then run, this nigga weigh 400 pounds, how he gon' catch me son?" Some of the rappers 50 "dissed" on here took it to heart (like Wu-Tang and Big Punisher) and returned fire, but I think it's pretty clear that "How To Rob" was merely a joke on 50's part.
To this day, I still go back and forth in determining which album of Power Of The Dollar or Get Rich or Die Tryin' is 50 Cent's best work. Some say his real debut was the better of the two, while others cite 50's breakthrough hit "In Da Club" as being the primary reason why Get Rich or Die Tryin' is the stronger of the two projects.
Seriously though, who really cares? Both of Curtis' first two albums were very impressive in my opinion, as 50 displays the ability to paint realistic pictures of what street life is like and how it feels to make it out of the gutter. Of course, there are critics out there who argue that Fiddy has no variety in his lyrics, and while this may be true, why go away from something that got you success in the first place? It's like that old adage says: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The production on Power Of The Dollar is steadily good. There is not one beat on this album that I dislike. Now, at the same time, the production isn't necessarily spectacular, but it's consistent, and sometimes that makes all the difference. It's like that athlete that does everything well but nothing great. Think of the production on this album as Tayshaun Prince. Now, wouldn't you like to have Prince on your team?
Is Power Of The Dollar one of the best albums in hip-hop history? Of course not, but does that mean it can't be a good album? Once again, of course not. I think the criteria that some people come up with to determine whether or not an album is sufficient is pretty ridiculous. It's gotta have this, it's gotta have this, it's gotta have that; isn't there a such thing as an album just being solid without all of the "requirements?"
I would go and throw this on your music player now, because it's a damn good effort by 50 Cent.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. The Good Die Young
2. Gun Runner
3. Thug Love
4. Ghetto Qu'ran
5. Da Repercussions