Quick Spins: Reviews of 50 Cent, Pretty Ricky and Boban i Marko Markovic albums
BEFORE I SELF DESTRUCT
50 Cent has made some fine contributions to pop culture in the past year -- just not through his music. He has helped us through tough times by penning a wacky self-help book with Robert Greene, improved our personal hygiene with a lovely cologne and made us laugh by mercilessly skewering his latest rap rival, Rick Ross.
The man is a font of hilarious moments and useful products, which should make it easy to be charitable to yet another of his shallow studio albums filled with violent imagery and boasts about his wealth. But his latest, "Before I Self Destruct," is tough to take. It's as explicit as 2003's "Get Rich or Die Tryin' " or 2005's "The Massacre," but those albums were created when interest in such rap was alive, if waning. Now that shoot-'em-up lyrics are passe, 50 isn't just over the top, he's out of touch.
"Gangsta's Delight" is a ridiculous thuggish interpretation of Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," while "Psycho," featuring Eminem, is nothing more than the two men going on about their already well-established craziness. The most interesting stuff happens when 50 abandons his tough-guy pose: He played with New Jack Swing on this year's "Forever King" mix tape, and some of that R&B feel spills over onto "BISD" in the form of the Rockwilder-produced "Do You Think About Me" and R. Kelly-assisted "Could've Been You." And on "Baby by Me," 50 uses a line from 2007's "I Get Money," originally meant as a financial brag and groupie taunt, and turns it into a silky come-on that takes him from played-out gangster to a much more appealing gangster of love.
-- Sarah Godfrey
"Baby by Me," "Do You Think About Me," "Could've Been You"
The Miami R&B quartet Pretty Ricky has been through a lot in the past couple of years: a shelved album, changes in its lineup, and some public squabbling with one of its former members. But none of that drama seems to have put a damper on the group's collective libido. On Pretty Ricky's self-titled fourth studio album, the young men are still making music inspired by the dominant genres of their home state: boy band pop and ultra-smutty Miami bass, a hybrid sound best summed up as Blue Kids on the Block.
Longtime members Slick 'Em, Spectacular and Diamond Blue return, along with new addition Lingerie, and, as always, the singer/rappers show off their hilarious R. Kellyesque knack for making anything seem freaky. "Say a Command" is built around the annoying robot familiar to anyone with a voice dial feature on their cellphone -- but she's reimagined as a woman who helps people get off, rather than make calls. Also corrupted are several varieties of candy ("Mr. Goodbar") and educational nature shows ("Discovery Channel"). There are also plenty of sex songs in which the group doesn't resort to metaphor and states its intent with blunt language, as with "Menage a Trois" and "Sticky."