Spending the last five years as a stone cold businessman with his own record label (G-Unit Records), a lucrative clothing line, and a movie company, 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) has been somewhat silent on the rap scene except for the occasional rapper-beef feud- until now. His fifth studio album Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win dropped earlier this month complete with a snarling lion on the front cover – which fits nicely with Fif’s brand of untamed violence (or untamed violent threats!). He’s beefed up the hype with a huge lineup of guest appearances, including Yo Gotti, Trey Songz, Kidd Kidd, Jadakiss, Mr. Probz, Guordan Banks, Prodigy, Schoolboy Q and Styles P.
The question is, can Animal Ambition make 50 relevant again?
50 Cent’s got waaay more than 50 cents to his name now, so perhaps he is unsure of how he fits in today’s hip-hop world. His sales and popularity have declined considerably since 2009’s Before I Self Destruct. It seems with Animal Ambition, he’s tried to recapture the old aggression that created his fierce persona and shot him to early fame on Get Rich or Die Tryin’. On his latest, Fif mostly brings grimy raps about topics that are tried and true, but unfortunately also boring, reflecting an overall lack of growth as an artist (whether he has actually grown or not).
50 brags about his mega-rich lifestyle, f**king other n**gas’ b**ches, dealing dope, and how he won’t hesitate to click-clack on a punk-ass, all in his trademark laconic “slo-flow” rap style. We’re left to wonder who the rapper is even threatening on “Hold On” (and many of the other gangsta grilled tracks).
Fif does throw in some radio-friendlies here and there. The sing-songy “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It” moves into lounge bobbing territory, while “Twisted” stays on that “21 Questions” vibe. “Smoke” is classic 50, a stand-out for the ladies with a great pop/R&B hook and Fif’s sweet spot: hip-pop with a little gangsta sprinkled in. The title track has a quirkiness to it, making it an interesting listen.
The rest of the album just seems to try too hard, however. 50 attempts to inspire on the glossy thematic “Winner’s Circle,” but the lyrics are just way too basic. “Chase the Paper” represents the problem with the whole album – 50 is trying to get back on his aggressive hood formula again and prove his street cred, when he’s clearly out the hood. Although there are some likeable tracks here, we are not sure where the heart is on Animal Ambition. While there is no doubt 50 is ferocious, Animal Ambition still comes off as uninspired. Seems like 50 Cent got rich, and is now dying to try and get hungry again. Basically, the snarling lion has no real bite.