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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
50 Cent
Curtis
G-Unit

Rating: 7/10 ?


September 5, 2007
50 Cent, the longtime Champion. He is a known troublemaker, a guy who bought a crack brick with his first major record advance (a smart move it turns out, as the deal fizzled), ended once-ubiquitous thug-popster Ja Rule's entire career, and put over one of rap's all-time best-selling albums on his dangerous reputation and street cred. alone. He has no interest in critical reviews of his music or in winning awards or even making friends; even his much maligned second-album was the second best-selling album in the country that year. He plays his chart clout like poker chips, pledging to quit rap entirely if the challenger sells more records. Oh, and he was shot nine times.

I'd like to believe that settling the 50/West publicity beef [for a more in-depth analysis of the "Decision 2007" showdown between 50 Cent's Curtis and Kanye West's Graduation, check out this article in the LAS archives] will come down to the artistry of the records themselves, but that is a tough, tough bluff. They're making the right move, these two. For starters, this is a guilt-free feud: the MTV appearance and its parallel Rolling Stone cover and all the willingness to work the publicity together, in tandem, is more than enough evidence that no one involved needs to suit up in Kevlar. They're doing it for the showbiz. They even upped the ante with entertaining rival "pop" armies on the records in question. On 50 Cent's side, we have the Famouses: Billboard turf-mongers Akon, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. Even noncombatant Mary J. Blige is continually unthreatened in her watchful niche over the current R&B landscape.

50 Cent's airtight piece of product is all steroids with very little skeleton, with the barely-a-hit "Ayo Technology," as professional a single as Midas tag-team Timberlake and Timbaland have released in a stream of professional singles. Not a word of 50 Cent's rapping hasn't left the lips of another rapper or himself already, and every single beat on display is a retread of a proven hit. None of these qualities make Curtis, as is widely mistaken, a bad record. It is a remarkably hollow record, with less insight or knowledge on display three albums into a recording career than say, a rerun of Hannah Montana.

But the whole of these very unstable parts is an impressive show of consistency. Nothing on Curtis is great, but everything is listenable or better: "Amusement Park" bests "Candy Shop" simply by being more nondescript, and "Come and Go" works a catchier Dre-knockoff beat and call-response chorus than anything on last year's Game album. Occasionally Curtis delivers a real payoff, like Mary J. Blige's actually-trying heartache soul on "All of Me," or 50's uproarious send-up of his own villainy on "I Get Money" ("Have a baby by me baby, be a millionaire/ I write the check before the baby comes, who the fuck cares,"). There is, however, a chink in Curtis' armor that the great compensator would rather you not notice, and that is the insecurity that brings his bullying full circle. 50 Cent named his album Curtis to show the less visible Cam'ron how he could give a fuck about beefing. But then he did give a fuck, or else he wouldn't have acknowledged Cam's YouTube-hit playground taunts of "Cuuuuuuuuuurtis," with the very title of his album.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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