50 Cent :: The New Breed
Label: Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Rap fans have gotten used to new or re-released albums having an "exclusive
bonus disc DVD with extra footage" by now. It's one of the smarter ways the
music industry has come up with to compete against piracy and online downloading.
After all you can get all the MP3's you want even with 56K, but anybody who has
tried to download video clips of ANY decent size and quality will tell
you that even on broadband it takes a HELLA long time and STILL
doesn't look as good as a DVD itself does. Besides which, it only makes sense
to give consumers "value added" CD's when you consider they cost half as much
to produce as cassettes did back in the day, yet they charge twice the price.
Count on 50 Cent to flip the script though. While most artists would give
you a CD with a bonus DVD in the inset, he's giving you a DVD with a bonus
compact disc instead, and still packaging it in the same small gem case instead
of the longform plastic box. Why? On the one hand it's a marketing gimmick
to package it like a CD, to get fans interested in "new material" from 50 Cent,
arguably the hottest rapper out in the industry right now. More than that
though, it allows music stores to shelve it right along with the rap CD's,
so anybody picking up 50's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" can copy this material
at the same time. Best of all, it's being offered at standard CD prices
($10.99 - $14.99 depending on the store) instead of the usual $20 and up
that regular DVD movies by artists sell for. The question on everybody's mind
though is whether a DVD of 50 Cent has enough
material to justify purchasing it; especially to those same consumers who already
bought his album and his underground mix tapes to boot.
There's certainly plenty
of material to watch. 50 broke his DVD down into four chapters, each of which
is accessed via a shooting range eeriely reminiscent of his "In Da Club" video.
The opening "Documentary" chapter is 50 talking personally about the origins of his
name and his saga of bouncing from one record label to the next trying to get on.
He reveals that his shooting occured just days before he was supposed to shoot the
"Thug Love" video with Destiny's Child. Some of this will be familiar territory
to those who saw his MTV interview with Sway, but even to those who have seen it
before it's still a good lesson in how not to get jacked by the music business.
The other half of the documentary chapter is dedicated to Tony Yayo from G-Unit,
who was locked up on unspecified charges and is interviewed right in his jail cell.
Tony's mission is simple: eat, work out, sleep, and do the time as quickly as
possible to get back to making records with his crew.
The second chapter "Music Videos" features his smash hit song "In Da Club" along with
"Wanksta" and some seperate behind the scenes footage from making each one. It's
in this extra footage that the DVD shines, as we get to see 50 in his more
casual moments when he's joking, having fun with his G-Unit crew, or lamping with
Dr. Dre and Eminem. Two different versions of the unreleased "Heat" video are
also included, which features 50 playing a very violent "Grand Theft Auto" style
video game - including a shot of him lobbing a grenade through the window of a
target's car and watching it explode. It's safe to say this won't be shown on TV.
Eagle eyed fans will notice that during the non-video footage, some of the same
material from the documentary section is re-used (or vice versa) to fill time;
which although uncreative is only mildly detrimental to the overall product.
The third chapter "Detroit Show" is more hit or miss. Concert footage usually
doesn't do justice to actually being there in person to feel the vibe and the
energy, and these performances are no exception. 50's voice is also strained,
undoubtedly from constant touring and promotion, and having to yell to be heard
over his own vocals playing on the records in the background. Eminem's performance
on "Patiently Waiting" though is eeriely perfect, suggesting that he lip-synced
to the words with his mic turned off, although that's hard to prove. Again it's
the extra material in this section that shines, as 50 can be seen given an interview
at Detroit's 97 WJLB (the same station Eminem once dissed on the song "If I Had...").
He answers questions, jokes with callers (especially one woman who seems desperate
to sire his children) and has a good time.
The closing section "Bonus Material" definitely comes across as an after thought.
It includesY live performances from a "Sessions @ AOL" show, along with a trailer
for the 8 Mile DVD and credits for the DVD's production. Many fans will skip this
part and move on to the three track bonus CD included. The G-Unit is clearly the
stars of this part, featured prominently on the Red Spyda produced "True Loyalty"
and the "G-Unit Remix" of the Eminem produced "8 Mile Road." The best track is
clearly "In Da Hood" featuring Brooklyn. It features a typically dark and ominous
Dr. Dre track, with vibrating bass and a spooky "Halloween" style piano loop. 50
taps that mood with a rap about protecting his life on the mean streets:
"I ain't the type nigga that be out, runnin his mouth
Talkin gangsta and shit, with my gun in the house
Nahhhhhh homey, better get to know me better
'Fore you be leakin pints of blood into yo' Iceberg sweater
When the talons come flyin up out the Beretta
You gon' feel like it's your fault and say, man I knew better
Look dawg, I don't play that shit
I pull that thing out, I'ma spray that shit; that's how I get down"
At just over nine and a half minutes, the bonus disc seems painfully short -
although in fairness it's always good to hear new songs from 50 and they didn't
have to include a free bonus CD with this DVD in the first place. It's definitely
shorter than a maxi-single though, so if you bought this release for the CD
instead of the DVD you bought it for the wrong reason. If you did buy it for
the right reason, you'll be generally pleased with the quality of material and
the running time (unlisted, but easily an hour plus if all watched back to back)
of the presentation. It's a good concept - selling an artist's personal DVD
at a reduced CD price - something more artists should look into in the future.
50's loyal fans will find it a bargain, and casual fans should still find it
interesting for the price. Those without DVD players though are just SOL.
Layout: 8.5 of 10
Content: 7.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: April 15, 2003