Having somewhat completed the full circle of Hip-Hop success (mixtapes, classic albums, built a label and an empire), many would believe that 50 Cent might finally walk away from the ferocious battleground on which he ran roughshod for years. But in between brokering deals, acting and setting up a charity to feed hungry children in third world countries, the G-Unit general announced that he would be teaming with the mixtape don DJ Drama to unleash another potent mix of gangsta tales and pulverising productions. Curtis aims to bring back G-Unit’s glory days with The Lost Tape, a highly anticipated musical project which hopes to reaffirm his elite status in rap’s rankings as well as ensure that there’s still room for gangsta rap in today’s market. It’s put up or shut up time for a man who was one of Hip-Hop’s most controversial acts for many years.
Any thoughts that 50’s humanitarian side would appear on The Lost Tapes are immediately quashed with the familiar aggro-bounce which fuels “Get Busy.” Carrying the same intense vibes as his previous hits, 50 comes out swinging with Hulk-like aggression, with G-Unit cohort Kidd Kidd adding to the rapper’s gruffs.
With The Lost Tape being a highly-anticipated release, F-50 brings out many big guns to ensure the occasion doesn’t go by modestly. Gully talk, kingpin claims and testosterone-raising production all contribute to the mixtape’s pulling power. Hip-Hop’s current sensation 2 Chainz is brought on board to yell trademark phrases and more on the “Riot” remix; a creepy piano loop keeps the criminal references in check on “OJ”; whilst the blunt admissions of how he wants to get down with the ladies narrates “I Aint Gonna Lie.” Once regarded as the mixtape king, F-50 doesn’t shy away from letting everyone know that his collection of now-treasured compilations were the catalyst for the current mixtape culture. 50’s bravado and speedbag lyrical punches ensure that head-nodding becomes infectious with each track on hand. The Chris and Teeb-produced “Complicated” may not possess the full venom of a 50 anthem but the steady canter of the instrumental gives enough momentum for the Queens behemoth to lay out his declaration of Top Boss.
Guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, Jeremih and more are by no means a surprise, but the omission of his G-Unit brothers and affiliates is noticeable. The absence of Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo shows signs that for all his bold talk and chest beating about being number one, times have moved on and G-Unit’s domination of Hip-Hop has long ceased. However, having long-term mentor and friend Eminem appear on the Araabmuzik-produced “Murder One” is a welcomed addition. Going back to his old tyrant ways (according to Eminem on the intro), Fif’s aggression is let off the leash and delivers a timely reminder of the rough house manner with which he ran New York for years.
Boldly walking back into the arena which birthed him, The Lost Tape sits comfortably amongst 50’s prior hits due to its raw, splintered output and bullish deliverance. Unsurprisingly, 50 Cent’s newfound softer side isn’t reflected here, which can only be a positive for fans of the muscular rapper. It may be all guns, women and gangsta glorification, but with Curtis Jackson’s brazen way of offering it to the masses (mixed with some dark humour which has often gone unnoticed) the anthems on hand show an artist who knows very well how to give the people what they want.
The Lost Tape unashamedly basks in the past glories of 50 Cent, resulting in a solid and satisfactory output from a rapper whose presence in the rap arena has definitely been missed.