Homophobia, sexism and hyper-masculine posturing aside, 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' is a record which still holds up remarkably well, despite the 12 years since its release. And though personally it doesn't feel quite as timeless as The Marshall Mathers LP, The Chronic 2001 or even Doggystyle, the weighty production credits of both Eminem and Dr. Dre give the record muscle before even a single track's been played, marking it as one of rap's few post-2000 milestone releases.
Paradoxically, however, it's also a product of its time; the production, though commendable, is like a hangover from the '90s, as are the record's narratives, 'P.I.M.P' in particular fairs pretty poorly in the gender equality round. Questionable attitudes aside however, and the aforementioned becomes one of the strongest tracks on offer; the tropical steel drum 'riddim' and 50's Yankee drawl making for an infectious pairing and probably the strongest single taken from the record.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there's little on offer here which really does qualify as suitable single material, and though depictions of 50's time as a crack dealer, and numerous mentions of his being shot will undoubtedly sell, it's unlikely the then-stricter RIAA would have deemed the likes of 'High All the Time' or 'Wanksta' as appropriate releases. Indeed, those tracks which did make it to single (aside from the aforementioned 'P.I.M.P') are some of the album's weaker points, particularly debut release 'In Da Club', which was pumped out endlessly, for what seemed like years, from Vauxhall Corsas and terrible phone speakers.
Interestingly enough, '21 Questions', the second single to be taken from Get Rich..., shows a slightly different side to 50 Cent then the gangster rap of other tracks, and seems a little at odds with that persona. Featuring the late Nate Dogg, and sampling Barry White's 'It's Only Love Doing Its Thing', it's 50 at his most sentimental (“I love you like a fat kid love cake”) and potentially his most tedious lyrically, making it clear he's happier in his scar riddled skin than offering out romantic sentiment.
With hindsight, it's easy to understand the excitement behind the release of Get Rich or Die Tryin', but at the time, it was what my parents had affectionately deemed rap crap, and held little interest to my pop-punk obsessed, 12 year old self. Arguably however, it was the record of a generation, a record that turned thousands of people on to a whole new genre of music, and a record from which the resonance can still be felt today.