Curtis (Bonus Track Version)
The tense, blocky beats we've come to know from Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre have only become tenser and blockier on Curtis. 50 Cent has achieved riches beyond anyone's wildest dreams, and his dominant lyrical theme remains his own massive success, yet there is something tortured and restless in the rhythms of "Man Down" and "Straight to the Bank" that suggests a man banging his head against the walls of a cage. Beneath its million-dollar bravado, perhaps Curtis is a concept album about its author's confinement in a self-imposed psychological cell? Regardless of your personal interpretation, 50's third album fully represents everything the rapper stands for. The grimy sonics of "I Get Money" and "Ayo Technology" offer disorienting thrills, but the album's best tracks come towards the end. 50 hits his stride on the Mary J. Blige duet "All of Me," while "Curtis 187" begins to resemble something the RZA might have devised. The current of terrific frustration — confirmed by the close-up portrait on the album's cover — suggests that wealth has done little to resolve this man's inner demons.