Monday, January 21st, 2013

50 Cent ft. Eminem & Adam Levine – My Life

One UK Top 5 for you, and none for rap game Gretchen Weiners…


Brad Shoup: Does anyone pity Fiddy, the rap game Regina George? “I’m doin’ what I’m supposed to,” he spits, and he’s right: he ascended Sun King-style at the tail end of the Bling Age, mean-mugging his way to a fortune. He dispatched and exiled a series of okay dudes, streamlining and consolidating major-label hip-hop like a one-man Bain Capital. His reign was irksome, but pop reigns have a way of ending, and now he’s back on the semi-contrite tip with Eminem, maybe the one dude who had too much juice for 50 to dump. Mr. Jackson knows what’s he’s good at: ruthlessness and haughtiness. It doesn’t carry much these days, but Adam Levine does. His powdered-milk chorus is by far the worst thing about this track – not just his work, but his presence, too. It’s pure calculation from a prime capitalist, a guy who knows he can’t automatically ascend a pop chart on his own anymore. Em earns his share, juggling syllables in double-time, tossing off enjambment and casual confessions in prime late-career form. And the main artist? He surfs the gothic boom-bap with his approximation of Golden Age flow. I would think his years-long striving for relevancy isn’t a story people want to hear, but I’m wrong. God, I hope he doesn’t take this as a license to repeat history.

Al Shipley: It’s genuinely wonderful to watch this asshole, who spent the first third of the past decade ruling rap and the remainder plummeting from relevance, flail around for a hit. Last year, he swung and missed with the supposedly surefire Alicia Keys/Dr. Dre combination, and now he’s doubling down with an even bigger crossover hook singer and mentor guest MC. Standing next to Eminem and proclaiming “This is my Recovery, my comeback” don’t make it so. See you in six months with Bruno Mars on the chorus. 

Josh Langhoff: This is tough. On the one hand there’s Eminem, for 45 seconds reminding us of his insane talent, right until the part where he nobly spares 50 from being motherfucked in this bitch. His trick here is to set in motion two rhythmic motives — a quick 16th-note ratatat and the drawn out “uhhh” of “BUUUT-Fifty” — and then play with their frequency and placement, twirling them around one another with the intensity of a fire juggler. He mostly drops them for the second half, where his self-obsession turns boring and he makes a bubble wrap joke like he’s somebody’s grandpa. 50 progresses from sing-songy dullness to nice momentum; drums are dope but Adam Levine; ultimately “My Life” gives slightly more than it takes away.

Patrick St. Michel: 50 Cent tries to stir something up with The Game and Young Buck while Eminem raps about ripping out vocal chords and eyeballs. These are the sort of things that would have warranted a “did he just say that!?” in 2003 but a decade later, just sound like two guys trying to reclaim past glories a little too hard.

Alfred Soto: Adam Levine clopping through a “Not Afraid” horrorcore beat isn’t as terrifying as Fiddy delivering self-help bromides and mispronouncing Aaliyah for the sake of a stupid rhyme. Em’s speed remains impressive but his enunciation’s lost precision. Reading Deepak Chopra can do that. 

Anthony Easton: I really like Eminem’s flow. I am not sure that he has produced anything worthwhile for a decade or so, but how he lets words machine gun out of his mouth is a great musical pleasure. I would have preferred more contrast though — a female vocalist for the chorus, and something slower and more syrupy for Fiddy’s part. 

Crystal Leww: The Gregorian chants at the beginning suggests a certain amount of greatness, so it’s a shame that there’s nothing distinctive about 50 Cent or Eminem’s verses. Both hint at events in their past (50 disses G-Unit in his first verse), but there’s nothing lyrically different or interesting about how they’re saying it. Even the production matches that lack of distinctiveness: those drums sampling Melvin Bliss’ “Synthetic Substitution”, drums that have been used time and time again. The only thing that might be different is Adam Levine’s voice, but his chorus is thoroughly unremarkable, one big cliché.

Iain Mew: I am fascinated by the fact that this song has got nowhere in the US but only narrowly missed being UK #1 this week, outselling Justin Timberlake’s new single. I thought that it might be explainable by one of the three acts on board remaining a bigger draw here (my guess: Eminem) but checking out the chart records, their US vs UK success comes out very much the same in recent years. Or even more US friendly in Adam Levine’s case, since there was no way the UK was going to put “One More Night” ahead of “Gangnam Style”. So, other theories. Is it that there is a much bigger crossover between the audiences of the three acts here (guess we can’t rely on Billboard to tell us the US side any more)? Is it that a faster moving sales chart rewards new singles by big names much faster in the UK and “My Life” will catch up Stateside soon enough? Or do we just have more of a taste for familiar mediocrity?

Katherine St Asaph: 50 Cent’s Beef With Interscope: Hear The Biggest Insult Yet!

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One Response to “50 Cent ft. Eminem & Adam Levine – My Life”

  1. Belated welcome to Crystal!