50_LEAD

When he’s not busy throwing the worst possible first pitch you could ever imagine (really, you have to see it to believe it) 50 Cent is enjoying the fruits of a multimillionaire dollar empire. Living like a king he is. Animal Ambitionhis first studio album in five years, is him playing with all that luxury, throwing a bunch of styles – both old and new – at the wall and seeing what sticks.

It’s a safe move because he probably figures why take a risk when you can go for the sure bet, feel your way through the current scene and see if you got a niche somewhere. Well that risk is what makes an album great, and the difference between a lyricist like him and say a Nas or Jay-Z or Biggie even. He’s trying to remain grounded and “real,” but when you’ve got several hundred million dollars marinating in the bank account you’re life is anything but.

He should have just thrown caution to the wind, and hired a guy like El-P or Cage to run the show - siphon his lyrics though a wormhole and see what comes out the other end. 50′s living on another planet, so why wouldn’t he embrace that and show us how well his vision translates. But no that’s not what you’ll get with Animal Ambition. Instead all you get is a boring single up the middle, one that easily could have been a blast to left field had he just took the time, focused and put some energy into it.

Hold On

Is that Mase rhyming over a RZA beat? No it’s the Barry Bonds of rap juicin’ up and swingin’ for the fences. There’s the usual get money banter, but above all it’s pretty much one man taking a jab at another. The feud is longstanding, but who cares. Opening with it gives us a clear vision of things to come:

"Hold On"

Don’t Worry ‘Bout It

Most people stopped worrying years ago, especially after “In Da Club” became a ubiquitous wonder. What he’s talking about here is staying committed to his way, which is sage advice when you’re making more money than most countries. The slippery nature of it however is more up Yo Gotti’s alley than his:

"Don't Worry 'Bout It"

Animal Ambition

Primal, like a wild emu with nothing to lose. Sure he wants you to believe he’s a ferocious lion frothing at the mouth, ready to kill at a moments notice – and the tribal rhythms help – but truth is he’s too old. Too old for beef, too old for rap, and too old to be tellin’ a person to eat their own dick:

"Animal Ambition"

Pilot

Over a bootleg Pete Rock beat, we find out just how much a fat kid 50 really is. Birthday cake once a year is already too much, but everyday is just plain absurd. He’s not even thinking about the empty calories or risk of diabetes, instead he’s too busy highfalutin with loose women and street toughs.

"Pilot"

Smoke

Here’s a moment where he could really benefit from a sit down with El-P or anyone from the Def Jux camp for that matter. There’s nothing special going on here with the lyrics, but the color scheme being painted could definitely use a proper beat to gnosh over. Sure it’s Dre, but only as a co-producer.

"Smoke"

Everytime I Come Around

50′s trying to adopt a style that is just too far beyond him. He’s trying to play it cool, but in the accompanying video you can almost see him thinking to himself that he’s too old for this as if he were the Danny Glover of rap. It works, but only for a goof like Kidd Kidd.

"Everytime I Come Around"

Irregular Heartbeat

You can read this in two different ways: like a pure flex meant to set a mood or a really bad parody somewhere in the realm of the Scary Movie franchise. Jadakiss helps out, but that just proves that his guests are doing a better job than he is. Like most of the songs so far, it could stand for a remix:

"Irregular Heartbeat"

Hustler

Jake One’s production fails to mesh with the verse, which is a tweak away from being a Jay-Z knock off anyway. 50′s looking and playing a lot like he’s, well, 50 – an old man trying to get in on a young man’s game and it shows. It makes his transition from regular All-Star to old man YMCA seem official:

"Hustler"

Twisted

Some wish to age gracefully, other’s could care less and will do anything to hang on to whatever fragment of success they once had. He could have done worse on the beat, but it’s the soggy punchlines that fail to leave a mark. Like he wasn’t sure of the creative direction from the very beginning:

"Twisted"

Winners Circle

50 trying to prove to the world that he still got it. Not a bad shot truth be told, but still lacking the fire that only a young hungry lyricist could provide. His lyrics aren’t necessarily saying it’s the end, but the overall sound has curtain call written all over it:

"Winners Circle"

Chase the Paper

Of course, what other reason is there to make music other than the money. Unless of course it’s role playing again because that’s essentially what this album is – one giant masquerade party. The beat is a throwback, but not in a good way. Like he’s trying to pass golden era photocopies off as originals.

"Chase the Paper"