“Got them straps and long clips filled up with lead / so when we count on the paper it better be correct”. Yep, this lyric (from “Animal Ambition”) basically epitomizes the attitude that 50 Cent rolls with on his long-awaited comeback album, Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win. “Untamed” is a great way to describe 50 Cent’s hunger, seeming to cling upon confidence and cockiness, along with a loaded bank account. There is toughness about Animal Ambition that hearkens back to the MC’s best albums (Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre), yet there seems to be a disconnection between the lyrics themselves and the enthusiasm from the MC performing them. This flaw doesn’t completely kill the vibe, but it also doesn’t make the brief Animal Ambition feel like a bonafide home run either.
“I woke up this morning, this is insane,” raps 50 Cent on “Hold On”. “Rich as a mother f-cker, and ain’t much changed / open my eyes, no surprise, I’m with a different b-tch.” Well now 50… While he spits some legit trash (like the aforementioned lyric), he also comes off too nonchalant, as if he’s unfazed or uninterested in what he rhymes about. Even with this half-hearted emotion, the MC does have his moments. Among those are sharp lyrics like “I’ll shoot the sh-t out of a n—a, then call it Barrel Bonds”. Still, a little more oomph behind those cutting-edge lines would’ve amplified the effect. While the soulful production of “Hold On” is one of its attributes, the track itself doesn’t feel like a truly captivating way to initiate Animal Ambition. Maybe it’s a tad too subtle; lacks in bombast.
On “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It”, 50 Cent delivers a simple, but potent message: “…Don’t worry ‘bout it / we got a strap up in here if n—as playing.” So if you mess around with 50, he’ll shoot you – ‘positivity’ if I ever heard it. Later on verse three, he continues his ‘no one is exempt’ persona, which is at least hearkening back to pristine 50 Cent. “Don’t’ worry ‘bout what they talking ‘bout / don’t tell me what that b-tch done said / I’m done with her, you can go with her / I’m leaving here with another b-tch”. The problem with the aforementioned lyrics are morality and perhaps dimensional; 50 Cent’s objectification of women continues to support the clichés and irresponsibility within the hip-hop culture rather than ‘rising above it’ and paving a new, more innovative path. Compared to “Hold On” though, “Don’t Worry About It” seems to have a bit more oomph. Yo Gotti provides an assist on the second verse (“The Fed worry ‘bout what I’m doing, think I’m selling dope / I may be and I may not, go to jail I may rot…”).
Indeed, 50 Cent is animalistic on brief title track “Animal Ambition”. He shows his animalistic tendencies throughout, exemplified as the MC raps “I say, say no to drugs then I do that sh-t” (verse one) and later “You say you hustle like a hustle I be moving sh-t / had a couch and a U-Haul filled up with bricks” (verse 2). Sheesh 50 Cent, my goodness! Even though “Animal Ambition” isn’t the greatest track and watching 50 Cent “ball” is certainly not enjoyable itself, the listener knows what they’re getting with this joint. He remains cocky and confident on “Pilot”, flexing whether it’s referencing “shooters”, hook ups (“shorty bounce it, and she clap that”), or the recurrent theme of money. You can’t deny that 50 is a “Hustler” (oops got a head of myself there didn’t I?), but “Pilot” continues to highlight an issue that plagues Animal Ambition throughout; it’s one dimensional.
“Smoke” is aimed at being the ‘big-time’ single from Animal Ambition, particularly since it features one of R&B’s most popular contemporary artists, Trey Songz. Additionally, “Smoke” is aimed at brilliantly portraying two popular things that dominate popular culture – sex and smoking (weed). The problem is, “Smoke” just never sounds first-rate from 50, Trey Songz, or even from the production end of things (and I rarely criticize the Dr.). Previously, I characterized Dr. Dre’s production as sounding “like a leftover” – just being honest! Trey Songz’s hook is only so-so, though it fits the animalistic vibe of relationships throughout the LP: “… Girl what the f-ck you done to me / you got me feeling like you just rolled up for me…” And as for 50 Cent himself – he just sounds clumsy as a four-letter word! Reiterating what I’ve said previously, “Smoke” only receives curses from me – no blessings to be had here.