Thursday, May 21, 2015

50 CeNT`s "GueSS Who`S BaCK?"...

I know, I`s been a minute since my last post & I do apologize for that but hey what can I say Life as a father of a 2 year old keeps ya pretty busy...LoL, if I just wanted to be like every other music blog out there that just posts up albums, mixtapes or whatever without a write up I could have weekly posts, but that`s just not how I like to do things. I want to bring a little something extra to the table, maybe educate ya on a little something about the music that you`re going to listen to. I treat this blog like something that I would enjoy so that is why I take the extra time to do the write ups/ reviews. I want a little more substance with my music & since we are all in the digi[tal] days now folks are missing out on the linear notes (you don`t get that with your i-Tunes purchases) I figured that I`d give you something like the equivalent with my write ups. Anyway, I`m done rambling let`s get into the music now shall we???

What I have dug out to share with y`all this time around was released back in 2002 thru Full Clip Records by 50 Cent & it`s titled "Guess Who`s Back?". Most of my homies call this joint a mixtape, but I think that it`s more of a street album compilation type of joint because it doesn`t have all of its tracks blended into each other & well there`s also no DJ shouting all over the tracks either....LoL, anyways if ya don`t know who 50 Cent is well then you probably should just leave this blog right now. However if you still don`t know about him & you want to stay I`ll try & give ya the quick~fast story so we can get to the music...

Born in South Jamaica, Queens (New York) Curtis Jackson III (50 Cent to the Hip Hop world) was raised by his mother Sabrina. Unfortunately she chose the Life of a Cocaine dealer & when Curtis was only 12 years old in 1988 she was murdered. Apparently she was having drinks with someone, they spiked her drink with something & she blacked out. While she was unconscious whoever drugged her closed up all the windows in the apartment & turned on the gas stove closing the door behind them leaving her there in the apartment to die. Without anyone else to care for him he moved in with his grandparents. Not too long after that he took on the role of a drug dealer, this was during the late 1980`s at the height of the Crack epidemic. Just like his mother he was out for the quick cash...

He continued down this path for a few years until 1994 when he was arrested for selling 4 vials of Cocaine to an undercover cop. A few weeks later he was arrested again when police searched his residence & found 10 ounces of Crack, a starter pistol & some Heroin. Originally sentenced to a 3-to-9 [years] in prison he got off lucky & only had to serve 6 months in a boot camp type of program where he was also able to earn his GED. A few years later he began rappin` at a friend`s home where they had some turntables set up in the basement. There he`d record his raps over various instrumentals played on his friend`s turntable set up. Curtis chose the moniker 50 Cent because he said that it was a metaphor for change. It was also inspired by a infamous 1980`s Brooklyn stick-up kid, Kelvin "50 Cent" Martin. He chose it "because it says everything I want it to say. I`m the same kind of person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means"...

In 1996 one of 50`s homies introduced him to the late great Jam Master Jay of Run DMC fame who was just trying to get his Jam Master Jay Records label off the ground at the time. Jay seen the potential that 50 Cent had so he decided to take him in under his wing schooling him on how to write hooks, count bars, structure songs & overall make records. This apprenticeship eventually led to 50`s first appearance on a record in 1998 on the song titled "React". The song was off of the album "Shut `Em Down" by Onyx another Hip Hop group from Queens that Jay was mentoring. 50 continued to work with Jay & during this period of time it`s been rumored that Jam Master Jay did the production for an album of 50`s that never got released. I guess that may be the reason why 50 Cent eventually left Jay & linked up with the production duo Tone & Poke a.k.a. the Trackmasters who helped get him signed to Columbia Records. Once signed the Trackmasters set him up in an upstate New York recording studio where he finished off 36 songs in a 2 week span. Out of the 3 dozen completed tracks 18 of them were used for his debut album titled "Power Of A Dollar" which was set for a 1999 release in October...

Fan made video...

With the release of the underground single titled "How To Rob..." 50 Cent really started to garner a buzz although most of it was controversy. You see "How To Rob..." was basically a flip of Biggie`s "Dreams", but instead of rappin` about all the R&B singers that he was goin` to have sexual escapades with 50 raps in a comical way about goin` on a robbin` spree stickin` up a lot of famous artists without worrying about who`s name he drops. Naturally some of the artists mentioned didn`t see the humor in it, got salty & decided to respond to the track with some DiSSeS of their own; DMX, Wyclef, Wu-Tang Clan, Kurupt, Jay-Z, Big Pun & Sticky Fingaz to name a few. Regardless of the hate 50 Cent was getting a huge buzz so the label was set to film a music video for "Thug Love", another single from "Power Of A Dollar" that featured Destiny`s Child. Unfortunately for 50 a few days before the scheduled filming took place he was shot 9 times at close range just outside his grandparents` home in South Jamaica, Queens...

While in the hospital recovering from the shots to his arm, chest, left cheek, hip, hand & both legs he was notified by Columbia Records that they were dropping him from the label. Some people say that he was dropped because the "Power Of A Dollar" album was heavily bootlegged, but I honestly think that it was more about the fact that the label was certain that he wasn`t going to truly be able to recover from his wounds & they just wanted to wash their hands of him. Either way he was dropped & blacklisted by the industry. Rumors have it that his shooting came as the result of his lyrics in the song "Ghetto Qua`ran" where he mentions & names the actions of Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff & other members of his Supreme Team (a South Jamaica, Queens based Crack distribution organization that operated in the 1980`s) as well as other street kats. Apparently he had exposed too much with the lyrics & that`s one of the reasons that he was shot in the face, they wanted to shut him up for good...

The shooting however did little to keep him quiet, it actually had the reverse effect. Once he fully recovered he decided to hit the mixtape circuit which at the time was a huge market used to help artists get noticed by labels. Seeing as how he was apparently blacklisted from the industry he felt that if he was able to flood the market & get on every DJ`s mixtape eventually the labels wouldn`t be able to deny the talent any longer & they`d cave & sign him to another contract. One trick that he had up his sleeves when it came to the mixtape game was that he`d take whatever artist`s song was hot at the moment & flip it in his own way giving them better hooks & honestly most of the time he did the songs better than the original artists did. It`s pretty much the norm` for mixtapes now~a~days, but I`m almost certain that up until 50 Cent started doing it no one else was. After working the mixtape circuit for a while 50 put together a street compilation album of sorts titled "Guess Who`s Back?" which featured tracks from his shelved "Power Of A Dollar" album, some undergrounds classics as well as a few mixtape freestyles & he released it in 2002...

Not to long after its release a copy of "Guess Who`s Back?" finds its way into Eminem`s hands. Liking what he had heard on the CD he flies 50 Cent out to L.A. & introduces him to his mentor Dr. Dre. Shortly after the meeting both Eminem & Dr. Dre sign him to a 1 million dollar recording contract. In 2003 50 Cent is finally able to release his official debut album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin`" & it goes on to sell a gang of records. It sold 872,000 copies in the first 4 days after its release & debuted at the Number 1 spot on the Billboard 200. The rest, my friends as they say is history & I`ll be leaving that for another post.....LoL, so much for the quick~fast story. Oh well, I wanted to give y`all the history on how this compilation album came to be so you could have somewhat of a better appreciation for it...

So now let`s get to the music shall we? As previously mentioned this album features 4 tracks from his shelved album; "Your Life`s On The Line", "Corner Bodega", "As The World Turns" & "Ghetto Qua`ran". It also includes some of his underground classics as well as some freestyles. At the time of its release "Guess Who`s Back?" was a way for 50 Cent to introduce himself to those listeners that may not have had the chance to hear him on the mixtapes that he was doing. Today lookin` back on this joint I think that overall it`s a great chance to hear 50 Cent at his best, you can definitely hear his hunger for success on here. The "Killa Tape Intro" starts things off on the braggadocio tip, but it`s definitely entertaining while "Rotten Apple" follows & continues the braggadocio style with a New York twist. The "Skit/Drop" isn`t anything special, 50 just mentions chillin` with the pre-Young Buck G-Unit (that`s Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo for those that don`t know). "That`s What`s Up" features the previously mentioned Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo delivering more of that braggin` style. It`s my least favorite track on this album, probably due to the beat on the track. I just find it too simplistic & boring, it doesn`t really make the lyrics stand out & grab your attention...

 "U Not Like Me" is one of my favorite joints on here, the Red Spyda produced beat backin` it is awesome (I`ve always dug Red Spyda`s production)! Again 50 comes with the braggadocio style but hey that`s what homie is known for, shit talkin` at its finest. Just peep the lyrics from his first verse;

"Niggas wanna shine like me, rhyme like me
Then walk around with a 9[mm] like me
 They don`t wanna do a 3-to-9 like me 
And they ain`t strong enough to take 9 [shots] like me
Ay yo, you think about shittin` on 50? Save it! 
My songs belong in the Bible with King David
I teach niggas Sign Language, that ain`t def son
**CLiCK-CLiCK** You heard that? That mean RUN!
Ask around, I ain`t the one you wanna stunt on pa! 
Pull through, I`ll throw a fuckin` cocktail at ya` car
From the last shootout I got a dimple on my face
It`s nothin` I could go after Ma$e[`s] fanbase
Shell hit my jaw, I ain`t wait for doc` to get it out
Hit my wisdom tooth **HuCK-Teww** spit it out
I don`t smile a lot `cuz ain`t nothin` pretty
Got a Purple Heart for war & I ain`t never left the city
Hoes be like,"Fiddy you so witty!" 
On the dick like they heard I ghostwrite for P. Diddy
You got fat while we starve, it`s my turn
I done felt how the shells burn, I still won`t learn (won`t learn)..."

How can ya not like this joint? It actually made its way onto "Get Rich Or Die Tryin`" as a bonus track (which was a good decision in my books anyway). "50 Bars" brings a new vibe to the table, some storytelling (something that I`ve always been a fan of when it`s done well). Staying true to the song`s title 50 Cent does spit 50 bars, but it`s far from the average emcee rhymes. 50 takes the time to spit a well crafted story while droppin` some infamous street hustlers` names like Alpo, Rich Porter & Nicky Barnes to name a few. The beat on the track provides a nice backdrop for the story to take place. Next up is the Terence Dudley produced "Life`s On The Line", most kats know this track as the braggadocio Ja Rule/ Murder Inc. DiSS. Although 50 never mentions any specific names once he gets to the hook you can pretty much figure it out on your own;

"Scream MURDA! I don`t believe you
MURDA! Fuck around & leave you
MURDA! I don`t believe you
MURDA-MURDA! Your Life`s on the line"... 

This track hits hard, the drums in the beat help 50`s lines pack that extra punch. The song was originally released as the third single from his shelved "Power Of A Dollar" album, but later found its way onto his official debut album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin`" as a bonus track. "Get Out The Club" follows, once again it has 50 flexin` that 'I don`t give a fuck shit talkin` style' but this time around it`s directed towards the lyin` ass gold diggin` chicks that hang out in the clubs giving out fakes names & numbers to the fellas. There`s some good lines in there, some are pretty comical but it`s really how 50 spits the lyrics that`ll hold your attention the most. 50 gets right back to the DiSS`n on "Be A Gentleman", unfortunately I can`t tell ya who produced the beat for this one because there`s no linear notes with the CD. Anyway this time around he takes some shots at Jay-Z, again he doesn`t outright say his name but after hearing the first verse you exactly who it`s aimed at -- just take a look;

"Yo, no more freestyles & verses killin` Sticky [Fingaz] & Ja [Rule]
I`m movin` on now, I got bigger fish to fry
Since "How To Rob..." a lot of niggas been naming names
Monkey see, monkey do -- I done changed the game
Still niggas actin` like I don`t get down or somethin`
Like I ain`t the next nigga to wear the crown or somethin`
You gonna talk about your chips `til we run in your crib
And you gon` ask dumb questions like, "Can I Live?"
Look, if I shoot you I`m famous
If you shoot me you`re brainless, you said it yourself
I`m slick enough to twist your lines & send `em back at you
Swift enough to snatch the Mac & pop that at you
 Take it personal, see if I won`t send you to Hell
I done told Tone & Poke they better have my bail
But if it`s over a mill` don`t put the crib up dunn
`Cuz if 50 get free, nigga 50 gonna run..."

As you can see 50 came slick & witty with the DiSSeS, definitely one to peep. The next joint titled "Fuck You" is another one of my favorites on this album. Although I can`t tell you for sure I believe that DJ Clark Kent is the one responsible for producing this banger. Some folks claim that it`s a DJ Premier beat because of the way the hook is all scratched up with various vocal samples, but I still don`t agree. Either way this song has all the ingredients for an underground classic; DoPe beat, wicked hook & some iLL lyrics. You can`t really ask for more than that! Just peep his second verse; 

"Maaaaaaan, I told niggas not to fuck with me they still push me
Figured they`d get away with it `cuz Tone & Poke pussy
I been goin` through static, shot at with automatics
Since `90, when Nas came out with "Illmatic"
If Suge [Knight] was home, Death Row [Records] would be good for me
`Cuz Tommy Mattola ain`t shootin` out in the `hood wit` me
I`ve been shot 9 times my nigga, that`s why I walk funny
Hit in the jaw once, that`s why I talk funny
With a Rugger on my hip I walk the street with no cares
Thinkin` my grandma`s prayers the only reason I`m here
My wrist icy, keep my ears icy
Keep my neck icy, that`s why your bitch like me
Son I`m a heavyweight, how dare these niggas take me lightly?!
I ain`t come to make friends & niggas ain`t got ta` like me
My own homie sayin`, "50 you done lost yo` mind!"
`Cuz I shoot out in broad day, run & toss my 9[mm]..."

The gems on the album continue with the Nas & Nature collabo` titled "Too Hot". The track delivers just what you`d expect from emcees of this caliber, they definitely don`t disappoint with the lyrics. As for the beat, again I can`t tell you did it because there`s no linear notes included with the CD, but it`s nice. If you happen to know who did it, by all means please school me `cuz I really like it. "Who U Rep With" is another Nas collabo`, but this time around he also brought along the Bravehearts as well. It`s a decent track, Nas & 50 Cent do their thang with the first 2 verses & 50 also does a decent job handling the hook. The third verse by the Bravehearts however is a little on the hit & miss side. The first part handled by Millennium Thug is a bit on the weak side. Then Horse comes in with 4 bars & revives ish, it`s too bad his part was so short. I think he should have had more time on the mic than Millennium Thug, but hey that`s just my opinion. Anyway back to the verse....LoL, Jungle follows up Horse`s bars with a short burst of his own that isn`t really all that impressive. I mean c`mon son you used "back" to end your bars 3 times in a row, not too much skill involved there. Thankfully Wiz comes in towards the end of the verse to finish things up on a better note, sure his lyrics aren`t mind blowin` but his delivery is quite nice...

"Corner Bodega" is a song that first appeared on 50`s shelved album "Power Of A Dollar". It`s a real short joint, just over a minute & a half in length. 50 kicks a short lil` rhyme about hittin` up the Coke spot so he can cop a pack & sell it out of town, L.E.S. handled the production on this one. I kind of wish that it was a little bit longer, but whatever it`s still a good track. The controversial "Ghetto Qua`ran" follows, just like the previously mentioned track this song was originally on the "Power Of A Dollar" album. The Trackmasters handled the production for this joint & provide 50 with a nice backdrop for his `hood tales. Now I won`t take any more time to discuss this song because I have already mentioned it a few paragraphs above this one, feel free to re~read it if ya like. "As The World Turns" is the fourth & final track taken from the "Power Of A Dollar" album. Red Spyda produced the beat & U.G.K.`s Bun B is also featured on this one. The tracklisting on the back of this CD lists the song featuring U.G.K., but Pimp C is nowhere to be found on this joint which is too bad. Although the beat`s got more of a Southern vibe to it, 50`s still comfortable ridin` it while Bun B delivers a good verse as well...

The CD closes out with 3 freestyles from various mixtapes that he had previously been on. The first is a short "Whoo Kid Freestyle", it`s nothing super spectacular but 50 ends it on a comical note saying, "Yeah that`s it, it`s a freestyle. The fuck you want for free? Fuckin` A-rabs just ran the planes into the fuckin` building. Coke price went up 10 grand this fuckin` week"...LoL, one can only assume that the mixtape this was from dropped shortly after the whole 9.11 thing happened. The "Stretch Armstrong Freestyle" is a lot iLLeR than the Whoo Kid one in my opinion, again it`s pretty short but DoPe nonetheless. The "Doo Wop Freestyle" closes out the CD & I can see why 50 chose to leave it as the closer, it`s fuckin` DoPe! I think that it`s a freestyle that 50 did for a Doo Wop tape that dropped in 1999. He sounds real hungry here spittin` some iLL lines, no question! So there ya have it y`all, peep the tunes for ya`self. It`s definitely worth it, especially if you`re a fan of 50`s earlier work. My apologies for the long write up, but hey I just wanted to ensure that you thoroughly enjoy the music with a little back~story. So go `head & dig into it...

Label: Full Clip Records
Released: 2002

1. Killa Tape Intro
2. Rotten Apple
3. Skit/Drop
4. That`s What`s Up {ft. G-Unit}
5. U Not Like Me
6. 50 Bars
7. Life`s On The Line
8. Get Out The Club
9. Be A Gentleman
10. Fuck You
11. Too Hot {ft. Nature & Nas}
12. Who U Rep With {ft. Nas & Bravehearts}
13. Corner Bodega
14. Ghetto Qua`ran
15. As The World Turns {ft. Bun B}
16. Whoo Kid Freestyle {ft. Lloyd Banks}
17. Stretch Armstrong Freestyle
18. Doo Wop Freestyle


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