Everything blends together in some sort of an unexpected saga. Looking at the event as a ‘glass half full’ there is nothing left but to admit that Hip Hop is everywhere. The perfect blend of music, sun, food, videogames and even art is on display here. Hip Hop is in our lives in so many ways that we rarely fully realize it. Nowadays one has to actually deny Hip Hop’s access into the everyday life to avoid it.
“Don’t take ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ literally”, says 50 cent in his new book From Pieces to Weight. And he tries to prove that very hard for a man who is only true to the streets. Long way from Southside, Queens, from the first Whoo Kid mixtapes and bulletproof vests, G Unit hosts a party in the meatpacking district of NYC.
Videogaming industry is the theme. Still, 50s own game maker, Vivendi Universal, is not represented here. This is not paying homage to previous obligations, nor is this event dedicated to support 50’s street credibility. This is a mature business move to show how much G Unit has grown. Claiming to have signed Mase may have been a strange move. After all Bad Boy hasn’t even let the preacher/rapper (or is it rapper/preacher?) out of his contract. If that was a mistake, let that be the first one 50’s made. Perhaps it was only there to create a buzz, see how the streets feel about that move. Perhaps announcing the deal before buying Mase out was a mistake. Very probably, being that 50 is the true Hip Hop visionary, he only made that announcement to get the very result it produced. Very possible this is too much talk on the topic already.
So, moving on, this event, titled G Unit barbeque, was a smart move. Love or Hate it… Whether you are rich or died trying… 50 cent is the smartest man in Hip Hop right now. Sorry, Kanye. ‘Good Music’ ain’t s— compared to the Queens bunch. Just “ask Russell Simmons”. It may be talent heavy but it is about to be top heavy too. What’s Kanye’s hustle? Is being cocky a legitimate game? Don’t get me wrong. Comparing talented, highly lyrical Hip Hop artists to gansta-style street life story-tellers and club-bangers makers makes very little sense. Yet, it is incredibly difficult not to recognize 50’s moves and talents. In a super short time he has managed to build an empire from scratch. He talks s— freely, even when it comes to the super legend Dr. Dre. He picks up the West coast’s failed project, The Game, and turns him into a money machine. He drops him without looking back once. Even the controversy which followed that short-lived unit is making him money.
“Banks s— sells, Buck s— sells, Game s— sells, I’m rich as hell.” Remember?
So, the QB was representing fully that day.
Hot Rod showed up first. Still a youngn, most of his answers are directed by his manager, Justin. Originally from Phoenix, this 21 year old kid grew up in Sacramento. The look on his face is hungry. The moves he makes still lack confidence, but just wait! “He stays in New York for now to be closer to the bosses, to learn the ropes”, says Justin. When asked what he enjoys more, New York or Cali, Hot Rod pauses. “Cali”, whispers Justin. “Cali”, echoes Rod. And just in case it wasn’t clear enough he adds sincerely: “I plan on going back to Cali where my heart is.”
Olivia comes up to Rod, gives him a greeting hug and faces the cameras herself. Not wanting to steal the kid’s moment she immediately returns behind the ropes of the VIP section inside the bar. Her hair is pulled into a smart bunch. She is wearing a simple and modest mini dress. Turning her ‘style’ and her smiles on and off she stays a tad moody until it’s her turn to face the music and work for the cameras. Elaborating on her R&B presence in G Unit, she speaks forward: “50 takes great care of his people. When you meet him in person, he is a very polite and a friendly individual. I am the R&B act here at G Unit unlike all other members. But I feel truly at home. This is my place.” Talking about ‘Good Music’, the rumors of Keysha Cole replacing Olivia turned out to be false. No one’s turned 50 down yet. Even the true street legend Kool G Rap can’t wait to get the call. Rest easy Olivia. They love you too.
Remember how 50 got where he is now? Yes, those mixtapes turned heads and instantly gave Queens the status Marley Marl failed to reach for the borough back in the day. Remember Whoo Kid? “We are street oriented” he says. “Mixtapes is what we do. There will be four more mixtapes from 50 before his album comes out next year. Right now we are working on a mixtape with 50 and Em.” Amazed at the possibility of such a colab in the works, this writer’s ears perk up. Whoo Kid keeps on talking. Comparing 50 to Jay Z he simply says: “Jay may have the King title, but 50 got the streets.” On the latest mixtape 50 had just put out: “It’s not going back but that’s how we do.” On 50’s plans for retirement he throws in: “50 won’t stop rapping. That’s his life.” Then he adds on his own accord: “Music is my life. This is how I have fun. Money is not the goal here.”
Another 50 mixtape legend, Sha Money, shows his face too. What’s next for this highly entrepreneurial and confident multitalented piece of the G Unit puzzle? His answer is short: “Production and management. It’s all in a day’s work.” Elaborating a bit more on his role he goes on: “If they [other G Unit members] don’t see 50, that’s where I come in. I’m about to move onto the front lines.” Believe it man, the streets are always watching and have learned not to doubt 50’s men. On the front lines you will be then!
Straight from LA, G Unit West is represented here as well. Spider Loc’s in the house and he is looking and feeling alive in front of the mikes and on the sidelines. Enlightening on his own moves words roll out of his mouth smoothly and well. Let’s not forget – Compton is still in the land of Hollywood. Well… sort of…
“I got mixtapes out, working on a couple of movies now.” When it comes to further prospects inside the G Unit, he only shares what’s right ahead of him. G Unit’s constant moves have taught all of its members to do just that. “Gotta holla at [Whoo Kid] about those mixtapes” is all he says when he heard about the 50/Em colab in the works.
Lloyd Banks is in a world of his own as usual that day. Gotta be calm cool and collective to keep up the profile of number 2 of a well oiled machine called G Unit. With his own album ‘Rotten Apple’ hitting the shelves on November 10 (sorry anxious fans, it’s not going to be 9/19) he is advertising his game and his goals with his very presence. With every member of the gang changing or rather adjusting their delivery and focus constantly, this man is no exception. What’s new about this record? “I’ve had a lot more time to work on my new album. Before I was doing most of my work on the tour bus… it was different.” A man of a few words away from his mic indeed.
Freeway is a new and interesting addition to G Unit. Actually he is a G Unit/Def Jam man now. The best of the two worlds is represented in his story and his music. Speaking on his music only he says: “[My] new album is gonna be crazy. It’s produced by 50 and Jay”. Beanie may have had problems with him when in the joint. Unsure as per why Freeway hasn’t visited him behind bars, he’s moved on and is making headlines nowadays with failed attempted carjacking against him. In the mean time Freeway puts out a mixtape with Dame’s reason for music retirement. “I worked with Jay on a mixtape last year”. Remember ‘Two Words’? “I’d love to work with Mos Def again, but we’re not cool like that.” Well, 50’s there for you. Doubtfully you’re missing out on anything here.
The only man left from the whole bunch is sipping Bacardi straight out of the bottle, smoking one blunt after another and chilling on a couch. Be not mistaken thou. His senses are sharp. This relaxation took nothing away, but a need to pay attention to the packed VIP. Yes, you’ve guessed correctly. Young Buck is in the house. “In my life I went through a lot of different things and it’s in my music. I am my music.” Dropping his 2 (not 50) cent on what’s new, he inserts another comment: “I change with the times, I change with music. My new album has more storytelling.” Tell us a few Buck. We’ll just chill on the sidelines till 10/31.
G Unit. Said enough. While no one knows what will come next, the fans care for what is now. Now, as always, the Queens is representing. Don’t you think?