03.03 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’

New York’s 50 Cent, the unequivocal “baddest” man in hip-hop today, has delivered rap reality in his freshman major label album, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” With bootlegs and anticipation abounding, the 16-track effort was released close to three weeks earlier than its scheduled date — and broke into the pop charts.

Most mainstream fans were already aware of 50 Cent after constant radio play of his “Wanksta” from the soundtrack from the movie 8 Mile. Soon to follow, “In Da Club” became the first single off of “Get Rich”…and 50 Cent was worth more than any other rapper in the country.

Armed with Dr. Dre and Eminem as executive producers, 50 Cent uses a candid approach that easily rivals the edgy lyrics of his newfound mentors. “I’m innocent in my head/ like a baby born dead/ destination heaven,” raps 50 in “Patiently Waiting,” the first of two songs where he shares vocal duties with Eminem.

The frightening honesty is matched with humor, though, on “21 Questions,” a courting monologue: “I love you like a fat kid loves cake/ You know my style I say anything to make you smile.”

Indeed what anybody listening can hear is personality coming through. 50 Cent is a tough man with no reason to sugar coat his words. He has been shot 9 times and claims to have been on the other end of the gun as well. That why when he raps the song “Many Men (Wish Death)” — a song about his enemies wanting him dead — you believe him. 50 Cent comes with real street credibility.

Put on the backburner by the late Run-D. M. C. member Jam Master J, 50 Cent released tracks basically on his own to independent DJs and bootleggers on the sidewalks of New York. That’s where 50 Cent was befriended by Eminem and Dre, but that’s also where he made his enemies.

“I’m back in the game Shorty to rule and conquer/ you sing for [explicative] and sound like the cookie monster,” raps 50 Cent on back down, glibly attacking Ja Rule and his more pop-friendly rap style. Bad boy 50 Cent attacks Ja Rule as a comedic lightweight.

The irony, though, is that 50 may become just as familiar to radio and MTV as Ja Rule. Although he is not the most carefree of rappers, the beats on “Get Rich”…are very accessible. Add to this, songs featuring Nate Dogg and Eminem, two men not foreign to the mainstream rap scene. 50 Cent, a man who lived in and for underground popularity, probably will not be able to avoid a mainstream presence on the radio.

But this is not necessarily a bad thing. With good beats from a good production team and rap from a proclaimed “bad man” that is real and entertaining, hearing 50 Cent on the radio or on your CD player for a while is nothing to be disappointed about.