Saturday, November 03, 2007

"Won't you join my electronic bongo circle?"

#996 50 Cent "Poor Lil Rich (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2003)

Before re-inventing himself as rap’s most powerful and loathed super-villian, a fanciful, mixtape-slinging 50 Cent liked to pretend his wealth was so ostentatious that the jewelry, clothes, firearms, and other possessions he allegedly owned were loud enough to actually save him the trouble of bothering to communicate with other people: “I let my watch talk for me, my whip talk for me/My gat talk for me, ‘BOW! What up, homie?’/My watch saying ‘Hi, shorty, we can be friends’/My whip saying ‘Quit playing bitch, get in’.” Sha Money XL’s insistently inquisitive beat – it’s the musical equivalent of so-called “alcoho-pops,” candy-catchy, not even remotely as extravagantly opulent as the laconic boasts dangling from it – carries us along on bobbing synths that burrow into memory right away. In this sense, though the title’s appropriation of Ritchie Rich’s subtitle is never more than symbolically alluded to (unless you wanna go subtextual and say something like “being rich is supposed to make a person happy, but how can someone be happy when the experience of and marketing of gun violence has made him rich and, really, threatens to take him out at any given moment?” but let’s not go there, okay?), “Poor Lil Rich” feels like a stealth missile aimed squarely at “the children”: it’s just too bright and shiny and wobbly. This song was a single, and despite the fact that the radio edit made complete swiss cheese out of the verses – seriously, there’s so much depravity in the lyricism that 50’s presence was reduced to stray prepositions and phrases and adjective, it was just weird – it remained thrilling nonetheless (and a bit mysterious, if you hadn’t heard the album version yet), casually neutered and galloping chromatically off into the night.