Released without the usual flurry of hype, Before I Self Destruct fulfills 50 Cent's contractual obligation to the Interscope label. It also doubles as a throwback album, returning the rapper to the hunger and hatred of his early mixtapes while skillfully recasting him as a wannabe upstart. That is, for the most part. The four radio-friendly bedroom numbers that conclude the album are out of place but fairly good to dime-piece beautiful, with the best being the Ne-Yo showcase "Baby by Me" ("Have a baby by me, baby/Be a millionaire"). As pleasing as these final numbers are, if you leave the room after the macho bruiser "I Got Swag" ("I'm infinitely special/Girl the Lord is gonna bless you/If you do what I tell you to do"), you'll return to a confusingly different album, one that's as glamorous but less vital. The monstrous run of tracks that leads up to this flash and polish can be summed up by 50's "This ain't Tha Carter/It's Sparta!," a witty, deceptive, and brutish line barked over a prime Dr. Dre beat during the great "Death to My Enemies." On the cut, the producer sounds like he's been digging on RZA, but the tension and dark-night feel he has created for "Psycho" is easily identifiable as Dre. Add an especially rapid 50 trading horror-show rhymes with Eminem and the G-Unit soldiers will testify that the Shady/Aftermath dream is still alive. While "So Disrespectful" is the perfect title for a song that shocks, stuns, and brings reminders of the gritty G-Unit Radio mixtape series at its best, the Rick Rock-produced "Stretch" is an even craftier balance of amoral and humorous as it references Plastic Man and Mr. Fantastic before explaining the profitable benefits of cutting cocaine. There are only three guest vocalists, and save a production credit for Havoc, the G-Unit posse is absent, and yet 50 is able to carry the album alone, sounding as inspired as he did on his Interscope debut. That album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', beats this one thanks to its proper balance and structure, but Before I Self Destruct is still a fantastic juggernaut of a 50 album if you exit early, and a very good one even if you don't.
Get Rich Or Die Tryin' is the debut studio album from rapper/entrepreneur 50 Cent on Aftermath Entertainment/Shady Records. Driven by the smash #1 hits "In Da Club" and "21 Questions" along with additional singles "PIMP" and "If I Can't," Get Rich Or Die Tryin' debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts selling 872,000 copies in its first week and in excess of 10 million copies to date, making it one of the best-selling hip-hop albums of all time. The album features production from mentors Dr. Dre and Eminem and guest appearances by the latter along with Nate Dogg, Young Buck, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Get Rich Or Die Tryin' was also nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rap Album. "Ten years ago...the hip-hop landscape shifted. 50 Cent, a young upstart from Queens, New York, put the rap game in a chokehold with the release of his debut studio album "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." The album was an audio snapshot of a hustler balancing machismo with romance and vengeance with ego. On "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," 50 pocked gritty street tales with stitched hooks that thawed the iciest of haters, mainstreaming a style popularized by his foe Ja Rule and appropriated to boost his own ascent. "...Upon release, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" laid a new blueprint for hip-hop releases. Whereas few artists ventured outside of the major label system to build buzz, the rapper overcame getting dropped by Columbia Records and recovering from nine gunshot wounds to architect a career in the streets. The rapper took a mixtape model - DJs curating compilations that were bootlegged on corners - and bent it to his advantage, using instrumentals from popular songs to create classic releases like "50 Cent is the Future" and "No Mercy, No Fear" with his G-Unit crew. The mixtape-as-marketing-tool earned him a record deal with two artists with heavy co-signs: Eminem and Dr. Dre." - Steven J. Horowitz, Billboard
After the messy dissolution of Death Row Records, Dr. Dre found himself adrift in an unfamiliar world. By the mid '90s, the once formidable west coast hip-hop scene was fragmented and weakened by years of overindulgence. By the time 2001 emerged at the beginning of the new millennium, many still doubted that Dre was capable of creating anything that could rival the sheer majesty of his work with Death Row. The brashly titled and unapologetically confrontational 2001 laid those doubts to rest with a series of radio-ready singles that blended the crisp G-Funk of Dre's past with a newfound sense of symphonic grandeur. The real gems here are a series of guest-laden album cuts—like “The Next Episode”—that find a veritable who’s who of Los Angeles rap royalty spitting fire over some of Dre’s sparest, fiercest beats. The Chronic 2001 is the equal of its illustrious predecessor in almost every respect; a hip-hop classic from one of the greatest producers to ever approach the boards.
Double vinyl LP pressing. The Documentary is the major label debut from West Coast rapper The Game. It debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and has sold over five million copies worldwide. The album's big budget production from high profile producers like Dr. Dre, Just Blaze and Timbaland was well-received from critics. In 2012 Complex named the album one of the classic albums of the last decade. The Game has been credited as a driving force in reviving the West Coast hip hop scene, which had been overshadowed by artists from the East, Midwest and South. Packaged with a special edition 3D cover that pay homage to Game's roots in Compton, California.
THE WASH is a good-natured romp that showcases not only the musical talents of lauded West Coast rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, but the pair's unexpected acting abilities as well. Centered around the action at a car wash, the film boasts a soundtrack that unsurprisingly features some of the best hip-hop you're likely to find in our outside the vicinity of the silver screen. Naturally, there are tracks from Dre and Snoop, including the pumping mission statement "On the Blvd., " but other high-end rappers such as Xzibit and Busta Rhymes are on hand as well, making this soundtrack a wealth of hip-hop riches. To keep things from getting too monochromatic, neo-soul crooner Bilal offers a tune as well; his "Bring 2" is a churning, funky number full of melodic twists and turns, effectively balancing off the work of his rapping peers.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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