After 50 cent first shot to prominence, what a lot of people overlook is that it wasn't just 50 cent. The mixtapes which would generate a lot his hype and future success also starred his group G Unit. Originally this group consisted of Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and of course 50 cent.
Each had their own character which gave the group a degree of variation. Lloyd Banks was he one able to effortlessly produced sharp punchline after punchline, 50 cent was a slick talking cocky rapper with a very relaxed but engaging flow and Tony Yayo had a rugged uncompromising style.
Unfortunately before the group could release their first full album, Tony Yayo got incarcerated but unpeturbed, 50 cent signed a new rapper to the group called Young Buck and he would take over duties for the most part.
The albums highlights are when the group are capturing a more serious gritty side. The album opens up with G-Unit over a stuttering drum beat. Young Buck is the pick of the rappers, delivering a threatening sharp laden verse.
My Buddy is perhaps the pick of the songs over recapturing a Scarface theme over an excellent beat which is definitely helped by the looped vocals playing in the background. The buddy of course is their trusty weapon, a simply but effective hook is complimented with a series of interesting metaphors with all of the rappers writing strong verses.
Beg For Mercy is another excellent song played over dark key notes. The flawless from 50 cent is quite flawless and the hook perfectly captures the message. The only disappointing aspect of the song is the short length of the song.
G'd up - Another excellent dark fusion of piano keys over a soft drum pattern provides the production for G'd Up. Another lyrical display about how despite their newly found success they are still very much street oriented at heart.
Gangsta Sh*t - This is similar in theme to the previous song, another very catchy hook, and an enagaging multi layered production with more gangsta warnings from Buck, Banks and 50 Cent.
I am still confused as to how they can try and convincingly try and be both fierce, intimidating and yet appeal to a pop audience. They certainly try and make this transition with Stunt 101 but unfortunately the beat is very plain and the lyrics certainly can't save it.
Smile sounds very corny and contrived. It is obviously aimed at the single music market but it lacks in both production and fails to keep my interest.
Overall the swirling dark production fused with interesting drum patterns and synth keys, provide an excellent backdrop for the songs. Some of the production is a little on the boring side but this seems to be more apparent when they try and appeal and soften the music.
There are some slick rhymes on here, some good metaphors, clever punchlines. However there is little emphasis on real songs from most of the verses. I would have liked to have seen more songs like the excellent My Buddy.
Young Buck was probably the pick of the rappers on here, as his delivery was the most engaging and lyrics were the most thoughtful. Overall this was a good album but I was hoping for a bit more.
Soon after "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" dropped, the 50 Cent-led G-Unit constructed "Beg For Mercy" as their group debut in 2003 and had them working essentially as a trio, with Young Buck and Lloyd Banks taking on the other roles and Tony Yayo prison sentence meaning he could only have two brief appearances. It gets them coming with hardcore Gangsta Rap material which plays up, on the most part, to the style that the dominating artist has, thus making it feel more East Coast than perhaps it could if Young Buck (a Tennessee rapper) or former member The Game (out of Compton, LA) could have brought, had they had more of a say (or been included in Game case as he hadn't yet had Dr. Dre officially bring him into the group by this time).
1. "G-Unit" (Intro)
2. "Poppin' Them Thangs"
Here they dive right into one of the most popular singles from the album and I felt that, although I could certainly see where everyone was getting their enjoyment out of the tune, it wasn't really something for me and it seemed to act as the first stages of working towards having 50 do things in the style that would soon become rather annoying as he has to sig on the hook as they do a light club-based tune.
3. "My Buddy"
This is a heavy tune on the record and one which really stands out as a banger within it, Her yu fidn that 50 constructs a relevant hook to guide them along the way, as they take inspiration form classic words in 'Scarface' along the way as they rhyme about their own personal accounts about what exactly their "Buddy" (meaning their gun) has done for them and the types of things they tend to get down to with them.
4. "I'm So Hood"
Not something I would typical expect to get much enjoyment out of, I found that with this one you get a well-rounded tune which essentially sums-up what this act is about and so in spite of the fact it is simplistic and doesn't really mean much to many, it seems just right for them here and they make sure that this comes across in the way they confidently perform on this one about their hood credibility.
5. "Stunt 101"
As we move back to another single from the album, this one was their debut single and one on the thing that I have to say i initially felt nothing for at all, especially when considering how well things were going for 50 prior to this "with "In Da Club", and so this felt like a rather weak club joint in comparison as D12's Kon Artis (also know as Mr. Porter) brings some rather basic production sounds to the table.
6. "Wanna Get To Know You"
Personally, I felt that this was the best that the album had to offer, and I saw it as an unexpected killer tune within the record as almost out of nowhere comes a blazing tune where they come to work with Joe (Thomas) and together the R&B influence leads them to come out with one of their most impressive slow jams to date as they allow the featured artist to do his thing and the rest (50 in particular) stick to rapping as they should.
7. "Groupie Love"
With LBC's Butch Cassidy (cousin to Nate Dogg) featuring on guest R&B vocals, here you see that in addition to jacking from 2Pac's plosive-heavy rhyming style and general delivery, this one also has him taking themes directly from the late artist as here "All About U" is essentially covered by the group. It is a weak one, but too easy to break down to show how unoriginal 50 is in many varying ways.
8. "Betta Ask Somebody"
Here things take a massive change as we get one of the biggest tunes from them. I felt that although I personally couldn't say that I really had much to say about heir plain flows (aside from what Buck provides), what you get in Jake One's production is too funky for its won good and it means that they can't go wrong on it and come out with a killer tune to silence any hater (of which they had many at this time).
Here Nottz takes over with the production and he is seen to come out with something rather typical of his work around this time as he comes out with a tune which is quite experimental, but largely remains in the grungy style to support what the rapper has to offer. Here Buck takes all of the verses and comes with something which supports the way the beats go while the hook is reserved for a few lines from 50.
10. "Eye For Eye"
Hi-Tek, who contributed to the opening tune, is seen to lend a hand for the production of this one as he shows what a little Mid-West influence can give to this one when the rappers come together to perform one where they let all know exactly what they are about and how they won't allow anyone to have anything on them as they will retaliate to the same degree to whoever steps to them with any sort of threats, although it remains a pretty average one.
They lighten the atmosphere as No I.D. (the Chicagoan producer who paved the way for Common) gets on the beats and creates a soft one where you get Lloyd Banks featuring as the lead artist, and of course 50 gets a chance to throw down a little harmony on the hook. I really don't think much to Banks' material at all, and so his role did little, but the composition of it was of a standard that you can't ignore.
12. "Baby Got You"
Megahertz brings something funky to the table and allows the group to get into a fresh club tune where they jut get lose with it and they show that they are capable of laying don two-steppers such as this one just as well as they can with heavy Gangsta Rap joints as this one comes out with strong results and will appeal to those who enjoy the softer tunes form them, though this one does have a bit more to it when you here what Buck (in particular) has to say.
13. "Salute U"
I found that as the beats came into this one, I knew that I wasn't going enjoy this one as I could with a lot of the others on the album as they get down to a straight-forward mindless Gangsta rap tune. It is a shame that they had to resort to this kind of things, and although it was inevitable, the results of it were so far from impressive that I simply couldn't see how they could possibly recover later on down the line.
14. "Beg For Mercy"
It appears that they do just what they needed to here as they rebound dramatically with one which goes from a point where they are coming with cold Gangsta Rap, to the same sort of themes, but with production with much more of a bounce to it, and resultantly it means that it allows listeners to get much more out of it and feel that the can deliver this kind of thing without having to rhyme in such an unappealing way.
15. "G'd Up"
Here the legendary Dr. Dre gets an opportunity to show what his production has to say at this time, and I have to say that although I felt what he had to offer them, what the group do with the beats really wasn't for me at all as they get down to one where they come with a rather chilling style and it makes it difficult to enjoy what they do with it. None f them did anything I could say really stood out and so it seemed to just stay on low level throughout.
16. "Lay You Down"
They make for another change in direction as here they get down to one where they take things back towards the clubs and do one where they take on all of those who they may have problems with to some of the heaviest beats from DJ Khalil, who gets them a nice and classy tune to break things up and offer them the chance to show how they can do things if provoked in the right way.
17. "Gangsta S**t"
This is a tune that really sands out on the album and seems like a theme for the act and I felt that it was one that you couldn't really say is really weak in any form as they come with something hard and ensure that all take notice of the powerful, in-your-face way that they are seen to approach the thing in this case. It doesn't take too long to get into and stands as a tune that most should get a lot out of.
18. "I Smell P***y"
They end the album on an explicit one to round the thing off and show a full spectrum of what they have provided through the first album together (and only one to include Young Buck). However I didn't think that it was anywhere near the kind of level that you expect, or hope to get from the final tune on the album as they do a rather pointless one about the relationships they are in at the time and how they are going.
This is a rather inconsistent album from the group and I felt that although it was so and down in quality, on the whole it is a pretty decent one and has them going quite far when they pull out the bangers in the album and ensure that you can't ignore what they have going for them and where it can be taken.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Poppin' Them Thangs
3 My Buddy
4 I'm So Hood
5 Stunt 101
6 Wanna Get To Know You
7 Groupie Love
8 Betta Ask Somebody
10 Eye For Eye
12 Baby You Got
13 Salute U
14 Beg For Mercy
15 G'D Up
16 Lay You Down
17 Gangsta Shit
18 I Smell Pussy