Animal Ambition proves to be a ‘lukewarm’ 50 Cent LP at best
50 Cent • Animal Ambition • G-Unit • US Release Date: June 3, 2014
“Got them straps and long clips filled up with lead / so when we count on the paper it better be correct”. Yep, this lyric (from “Animal Ambition”) basically epitomizes the attitude that 50 Cent rolls with on his long-awaited comeback album, Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win. “Untamed” is a great way to describe 50 Cent’s hunger, seeming to cling upon confidence and cockiness, along with a loaded bank account. There is toughness about Animal Ambition that hearkens back to the MC’s best albums (Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre), yet there seems to be a disconnection between the lyrics themselves and the enthusiasm from the MC performing them. This flaw doesn’t completely kill the vibe, but it also doesn’t make the brief Animal Ambition feel like a bonafide home run either.
“I woke up this morning, this is insane,” raps 50 Cent on “Hold On”. “Rich as a mother f-cker, and ain’t much changed / open my eyes, no surprise, I’m with a different b-tch.” Well now 50… While he spits some legit trash (like the aforementioned lyric), he also comes off too nonchalant, as if he’s unfazed or uninterested in what he rhymes about. Even with this half-hearted emotion, the MC does have his moments. Among those are sharp lyrics like “I’ll shoot the sh-t out of a n—a, then call it Barrel Bonds”. Still, a little more oomph behind those cutting-edge lines would’ve amplified the effect. While the soulful production of “Hold On” is one of its attributes, the track itself doesn’t feel like a truly captivating way to initiate Animal Ambition. Maybe it’s a tad too subtle; lacks in bombast.
On “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It”, 50 Cent delivers a simple, but potent message: “…Don’t worry ‘bout it / we got a strap up in here if n—as playing.” So if you mess around with 50, he’ll shoot you – ‘positivity’ if I ever heard it. Later on verse three, he continues his ‘no one is exempt’ persona, which is at least hearkening back to pristine 50 Cent. “Don’t’ worry ‘bout what they talking ‘bout / don’t tell me what that b-tch done said / I’m done with her, you can go with her / I’m leaving here with another b-tch”. The problem with the aforementioned lyrics are morality and perhaps dimensional; 50 Cent’s objectification of women continues to support the clichés and irresponsibility within the hip-hop culture rather than ‘rising above it’ and paving a new, more innovative path. Compared to “Hold On” though, “Don’t Worry About It” seems to have a bit more oomph. Yo Gotti provides an assist on the second verse (“The Fed worry ‘bout what I’m doing, think I’m selling dope / I may be and I may not, go to jail I may rot…”).
Indeed, 50 Cent is animalistic on brief title track “Animal Ambition”. He shows his animalistic tendencies throughout, exemplified as the MC raps “I say, say no to drugs then I do that sh-t” (verse one) and later “You say you hustle like a hustle I be moving sh-t / had a couch and a U-Haul filled up with bricks” (verse 2). Sheesh 50 Cent, my goodness! Even though “Animal Ambition” isn’t the greatest track and watching 50 Cent “ball” is certainly not enjoyable itself, the listener knows what they’re getting with this joint. He remains cocky and confident on “Pilot”, flexing whether it’s referencing “shooters”, hook ups (“shorty bounce it, and she clap that”), or the recurrent theme of money. You can’t deny that 50 is a “Hustler” (oops got a head of myself there didn’t I?), but “Pilot” continues to highlight an issue that plagues Animal Ambition throughout; it’s one dimensional.
“Smoke” is aimed at being the ‘big-time’ single from Animal Ambition, particularly since it features one of R&B’s most popular contemporary artists, Trey Songz. Additionally, “Smoke” is aimed at brilliantly portraying two popular things that dominate popular culture – sex and smoking (weed). The problem is, “Smoke” just never sounds first-rate from 50, Trey Songz, or even from the production end of things (and I rarely criticize the Dr.). Previously, I characterized Dr. Dre’s production as sounding “like a leftover” – just being honest! Trey Songz’s hook is only so-so, though it fits the animalistic vibe of relationships throughout the LP: “… Girl what the f-ck you done to me / you got me feeling like you just rolled up for me…” And as for 50 Cent himself – he just sounds clumsy as a four-letter word! Reiterating what I’ve said previously, “Smoke” only receives curses from me – no blessings to be had here.
“Every Time I Come Around” sports a sick, hard beat – one of the more notable grooves of the album. It’s nothing fancy mind you and certainly won’t be receiving many awards per se, but the simple approach bodes well for 50 and Kidd Kidd. On “Irregular Heartbeat”, Fiddy keeps it one hunna: “N—a, you pussy, you scared / I can hear your heartbeat / why the f-ck would you come around here”. He’s not the only one who keeps it as he gets assistance from Jadakiss and Kidd Kidd. The overall cut is definitely…um…creepy. Why is it so creepy you ask? Well, the production is quite low-key, giving it a haunting quality. The rhymes are low-key as far as performance, but still carry an edge about them. I mean, after all, Jadakiss gives the ultimate insult (“And I’m tragical, traumatical, no match, incompatible / n—a, you vaginal”), while Kidd Kidd is incredibly violent in mentality (“Bang, I’m the one that came in your house for the chickens / left a n—a brains hangin’ out like we chillin’”). OMG!
“Let ‘em sag, my swag is True Religion / You gonna need Cartier frames to see my vision”. If nothing else, “Hustler” has the whole luxurious rap thing covered – watch out Rick Ross. The production stands out, given its lazy, yet rhythmic nature; it’s the highlight of the track. Why is the production the highlight you ask – well in regards to overall importance, “Hustler” is sort of the ‘been there, done that’ thing. Fine, 50 if your “mind on the money” and you “ain’t tripping on the hoes”. BUT – what about getting on that ‘next level’ sh-t dawg?
“Twisted” (featuring Mr. Probz) is all about getting turnt up. The hook confirms: “Tonight we gon’ turn up ‘til we twisted”. Essentially, from 50 Cent’s perspective and even the general hip-hop perspective, “Twisted” is a commercial rap joint that doesn’t offer anything fresh or new. How many times have rappers bragged about popping bottles, their never ending bank accounts, and hooking up with hot chicks? I’m glad that Curtis Jackson came up big time, but there is nothing “twisted” in the least about this joint.
“Are you ready to win? Come join the winner’s circle” – at least that’s what guest artist Guordan Banks sings on “Winner’s Circle”, yet another cut that seems to eschew depth or meaningful themes from the MC. Yes, cliques seem to be a vital part of the hip-hop lifestyle and everyone wants to be with a ‘winner’, but still, 50 Cent would have to really ‘up the ante’ to make Animal Ambition be a legit ‘winner’s circle’ at this point. Honestly, it’s hard to make lyrics like “Cars, clothes, I need it / Condos, condoms, and bad b-tches to be with…” sound serious. Still apparently to 50 Cent, he’s ill-er than all the rest. That line where he says “I’m confident, you can call it vain or conceited…” – yeah, “vain or conceited” sounds accurate.
After being ‘the sh-t’ the entire album – rightfully so if you read into the title, as 50 would likely have you – “Chase The Paper”, featuring Kidd Kidd, Prodigy and Styles P, fits the mold. “I’m still a rider, I’m still rolling / a n—a still hold the steel, that’s how I’m owning,” he brags on the unapologetic hook. “You chase the hoes, I chase the paper…you’re a sucker for love, n—a, I’m money making”. Much like “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It” or “Hustler”, 50 Cent doesn’t care about relationships or the turbulence that goes along with them – all he cares about is making money. While it’s shallow, truthfully, 50 Cent to his credit is both honest and shows some of the edginess that made him appealing on Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in 2003. That said, there’s still a bit much ‘recycling’ to make “Chase The Paper” among the MC’s top echelon material. And then yet on the other hand, the production is relatively conservative, proving to be a solid backdrop for the MCs to spit over.
Where profundity is concerned, Animal Ambition is ultimately 50 Cent’s least profound and least important album. To the MC’s credit, he attempts to portray a hardcore, edgy persona, likely aimed at reminding listeners of his earl-mid 00s days, aka ‘when he was hot’. The problem is that he overdoes this by focusing emptily and indulgently on materialism. Additionally, his flow comes off too passive and nonchalant without the necessary oomph or grit to successful sell the edge he spits. It’s sort of oxymoronic and because of this, it takes away from the effect 50 Cent is ultimately trying to execute. Perhaps calling Animal Ambition ‘wack’ might be an overstatement; it definitely falls short of the glory of previous 50 Cent LPs.
Favorites: “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It”; “Irregular Heartbeat”; “Chase The Paper”