Today marks the 10th anniversary of 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." And say what you will about the guy's career now, but that album was brilliant. The rare debut album that lived up to its considerable hype, it spawned one all-time classic single ("In da Club"), solidified Dr. Dre's rep as rap's greatest tastemaker, and notched the rare "1 million albums sold for every time the rapper has been shot" statistical achievement. Yep. Nine million albums sold for nine gunshots received. Let's see Mac Miller do that.
For what it's worth, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" is also one of maybe three albums which I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard it. It's seventh grade. I'm in the basketball bleachers. A buddy's Discman is involved. I get through about three minutes of "What Up Gangsta" when a PE teacher walks over, glares at me, and confiscates the Discman right around the moment 50 was saying something about "Stomp[ing] a bone out your ass with some brand new Chukkas." Good times.
Anyway, this anniversary necessitated a ranking. Because for many of us around the ages of 20-28, "Get Rich or Die Tryin,'" believe it or not, will go down in history as a definitive album of our youth. G-g-g-g-g-g-g Unit.
10. Many Men (Wish Death)
Cinematic, violent, scary, almost-great. (Also: Damn repetitive.)
9. U Not Like Me
Remember this one? At the risk of sounding like I'm simplifying it, put it on your gym playlist now.
8. "What Up Gangsta"
Maybe the perfect opener for the album he was about to make. Short, hard-hitting, and it set the mood right.
TIE 7. "P.I.M.P." and "21 Questions"
Eh, they weren't for me. But they did show that 50 could sell a shit-ton of albums on his playfulness and romantic sides, respectively. "I love you like a fat kid loves cake" was said, in 2003, by thousands of awkward guys to girls who immediately walked away.
5. "If I Can't"
Thanks to the fragment of a bullet lodged in his tongue, 50 always had a really unique way of enunciating certain consonants, especially when he spit alliterative verses. The opening of "If I Can't"—"I apply pressure to pussies that stunting I pop/Stand alone squeezing my pistol I'm sure that I gotta/Now Peter Piper picked peppers and Run rocked rhymes/I'm 50 Cent, I write a lil' bit, but I pop nines"—basically forced you to attempt to copy it. And you failed.
4. "Patiently Waiting"
He held his own with peak-level Eminem! Well, not live. But on the album at least!
Because it totally ended Ja Rule's career.
a. Way before "Bulletproof" and "Blood in the Sand," here was definitive proof that 50 really, really wanted to make a terrible video game.
b. This song is still 90% more intimidating than anything "shock" rappers like the Odd Future guys can produce.
c. I'd pay maybe $80 to film a music video in front of that green screen.
1. "In da Club"
(It's all about the beat, dummy.)