Tuesday, June 21, 2011

50 Cent - Bully And Opportunist?

Nona Willis Aronowitz, writing for the online magazine Good, took aim at rap phenom Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. Articles like this pop up quite a bit and 50 Cent along with 50's label mate at Shady Records, Eminem, are often the targets. Both have uttered alot of homophobic stuff along with misogynist lyrics.Aronowitz takes special issue with 50 for his writing an anti-bullying novel while continuously producing music that promotes and legitimizes violence:

Millions of kids look up to 50 Cent and will take anything to heart that's attached to his name. So if he's calling for an end to violence in the schoolyard, perhaps he shouldn't rap about shooting people. If he cares about bullying, maybe he shouldn't tweet about how gay guys should kill themselves. While he's at it, he might refrain from constantly starting shit with other rappers.

To be fair, a rapper writing a book about the violence that poor, black kids endure daily in school could give some much-needed visibility to an issue that seldom gets the spotlight. In recent years, news stories of homophobia-related violence have gotten far more attention than pervasive urban bullying, not only because they have often involved a suicide, but because anti-gay activism is a far friendlier cause to white, affluent people.

On this website, I've defended Eminem against similar attacks. However, Eminem is alot easier to defend than 50. Eminem has provided an epic level of diversity in his discography, showing a personality that ranges from frightening wife beater ("Kim") to serial killer ("3 AM") all the way to hyper-responsible and loving father ("When I'm Gone") and Alcoholics Anonymous spokesman and motivational speaker ("Not Afraid"). That sort of range shows Marshall to be pretty honest, maybe too honest for most people's tastes.

That's not a range that 50 has. 50 has legitimate talent and makes songs that are hard to not like. However, his range is shorter than Danny Devito. From his early 2000s mixtapes to his latest releases, all of his songs are either about shooting people or macking on hoes. 50 likes to describe himself as an "artist" but artists are not this limited by definition. His lack of depth is no small reason why, despite his wealth and influence, the rap game is leaving him behind. There's simply nothing new to his story and he isn't willing to give us anything new.

Does he think rap fans are stupid? Maybe. There were alot of comic book creators back at the beginning of the medium that hid their names and wrote comics that were orgies of sex and violence (look up EC Comics) because they thought it would be a good way to make a buck. Making his motto "Get Rich Or Die Trying," 50 has never hidden the fact that he's in it for the money and he may simply not respect the genre enough as an art form to play around with it.

50 has put on multiple masks when talking to the media: a philanthropist when he talks about his organization G-Unity, a hardcore gangsta when talking to rap magazines and blogs and a businessman and smart pragmatist when talking finance or making business moves in the soft drink world (50 Cent himself helped make Vitamin Water a national brand and spur a copycat launch of similar brands). 50's a charming guy but that sort of double dealing masks a lack of honesty. As he's said before, hate it or love it.

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