It’s no secret that some think 50 Cent has fallen off. It’s been over two years since his last studio effort, Before I Self Destruct, which failed to convince us that he was as good as he was when he had everyone up in the club. While he’s been plenty busy with other business endeavors, 50 has been letting the haters hate, and for that we should be thankful. On the 10th anniversary of his debut mixtape, he unloads The Big 10, a pleasant surprise with a sound akin to the young, not quite rich hip-hop hero he was back in 2001.
It helps that he has some original production, including beats by Jake One, DJ Khalil, Jahlil Beats, and Scoop Deville, but beyond that, the man otherwise known as Curtis Jackson sounds like a natural again. “Niggas Be Schemin’” has him matching the aggressive street-minded beat so well that it will have your mind reeling with memories of his hungry debut. That classic appeal comes to light on DJ Khalil’s la-la-la heavy “Shootin’ Guns”, as well as on the jaw-gritting “Nah Nah Nah”, while “Put Ya Hands Up”, produced by Roc Nation’s Jahlil Beats, is a slow-swag club joint with an addictive Bollywood-like feel. Amid all the tough talk (“Yeah, bitch, I got my second wind/You could pretend I ain’t the shit”), Jackson seamlessly weaves in sex-driven, lady-loving tracks (“Wait Until Tonight”, “I Just Wanna”), and when he starts rap-singing the hooks, you might remember a time way back when it wasn’t a requirement for rappers to come equipped with the prettiest of singing voices.
At only 38 minutes long, The Big 10 is short enough to avoid tired redundancies. However, the features from Tony Yayo, Kidd Kidd, and new G-Unit signee Paris only detract from the real heavy hitter. Whether or not 50 Cent can keep his energy and authentic street-minded air together is up to him, but this mixtape should ward off the haters until his next studio release drops.
Essential Tracks: “Niggas Be Schemin'”, “I Just Wanna”, and “Shootin’ Guns”