Has 50 Cent Jumped The Shark?
9:24 p.m.: While waiting at the box office to get our tickets a kid walks up and asks, "Excuse me, how much are tickets?" He looks absolutely crushed when he hears that they're about $50. It's super sad to see. I mean, he just wanted to see the show. He's all dressed up and everything. If you look sad enough outside of a show, they should just let you in.
9:24:02: See, this is why I could never be a drug dealer. I'm way too soft. Also, there's no way a drug dealer would ever use the phrase "super sad" to describe anything.
Thug: Yo, did you hear what happened to L-Boogie?
Drug Dealer: Yeah, I heard he got his head split in two.
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DD: Super sad.
9:31: Full disclaimer: As soon as we finished interviewing 50 a couple of days before this show, we immediately fired off a handful of "OMG, I totally just got off the phone with 50 Cent. Swoon, swoon, swoon."-type text messages. If this review is tinged with fanboyness, sorry. That's just the way these types of things work sometime.
9:43: Well, that was pretty fanfare-less. Some hype man comes out, makes some "Are you ready to party with 50 Cent?"-type comments and then 50 comes wandering out. Was expecting a bit more of an intro.
9:45: He appears to have gained back all of the weight he lost for that role in Things Fall Apart. (FYI, 50 lost near sixty pounds to play a cancer patient in a movie. He looked awful, like what Marvin the Martian probably looks like naked. Sick 50 is not intimidating.)
9:47: I wonder how long it'll be before 50 takes his shirt off. Not long, hopefully. Err... I mean... shit.
9:48: He's touching on "So Disrespectful," a diss track from Before I Self Destruct. It's plenty fun. It jabs at Jay-Z, The Game and Young Buck. 50 might be the most experienced rap war veteran of all time. Some other people he has taken shots at: Ja Rule, Fat Joe, Ricky Ross, Nas, Kelis, Jadakiss, Diddy, Cam'Ron, Brian McKnight, Keith Sweat, Master P, Silk, RZA, Mike Tyson, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, The Guy That Works The 11-4 Shift At Jack In The Box, Daniel LaRuso, Annise Parker and The Unseen Ghost From Paranormal Activity.
9:51: "I Get Money." There's an old white guy in the front row opposite of us that is absolutely going bonkers for this song right now. That is always not never fun.
9:54: Hmmm, there's a girl walking by right now dressed like Bruce Lee in Game of Death. Cool, cool.
9:54:02: By the way, Bruce Lee had to have been a total badass, right? I mean, Game of Death? Who signs up to play that game? Only badasses, that's who. Hey, do you want to play a game? "Sure." Great. It's called Game of Death. "Nevermind. I'm good."
9:59: Okay, we're about fifteen minutes into the show and Arena is still only about 40 percent full. This is the second time in the last two months there has been rapper who could legitimately add the "platinum selling" tag to his Wiki bio yet was unable to sell out this place. Have I been so blinded by my love of 50's Get Rich Or Die Tryin' that I failed to notice his star wane? Is 50 no longer cool? What the hell? Is Arena Theater the fallback venue of rappers who have jumped the shark? Crazy. Afterthought Theater. Until a rapper shows up here and performs to a full house, that's what this place will officially be referred to as.
10:01: 50 already took his jacket off and threw it into the crowd. Now he's removed his overshirt. That leaves his white undershirt and the muscle shirt he inevitably has on underneath that one. Halfway there, baby.
10:04: 50 is walking around the stage touching hands with fans. It's cool, until he locks hands with some white guy right as he's singing the chorus of "Baby By Me." He's literally touching hands with a dude, looking square at him saying "Have a baby by me, baby, be a millionaire." Unintentional gayness is always the best kind.
10:05: Hmmm, some other gentleman just came out on stage to sing some harmonies for a song or two, only nobody seems to recognize who he is. New rule: If you can't outsell the person who just called you out to the stage, you should probably introduce yourself to the crowd. Just a thought.
10:07: Oh, man. 50's hype man is spent. He shot his load by going full throttle through the first 30 minutes of the show. You can't have a hype man who gets tired. That's like a hooker who doesn't put out. Or it's not. I don't know. But you get the point.
10:11: The aforementioned singer onstage just took his jacket off, but he didn't throw it into the crowd like 50 did his. Another New Rule: If you can't take your jacket off and throw it into the crowd because you don't want to have to buy a new one, you shouldn't wear it on stage. Taking it off and then setting it gently to the side is not near as cool.
10:29: They're showing a girl on the overhead screen. She's dancing in a very seductive manner as 50 stands in front of her and raps. Her boyfriend looks only a little uncomfortable. But really, what can you do in that situation? 50 is 210 pounds of muscle. Sick 50 you can say something to. You'd have a shot if you fought Sick 50. Not Healthy 50 though. Healthy 50 gets to disrespect your relationship. Sorry, bro.
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10:34: He has been pumping through song after song. "P.I.M.P."; "Magic Stick"; The Game's "Hate It Or Love It"; etc. It seems like it should've been a lot of fun, but it mostly feels very economical. There have been a couple of moments where he hints at some semblance of character --when he flashes that toothsome smile, as he's done once or twice tonight, you can't help but be taken in-- but the show has generally been devoid of that. It's weird. He's always so likeable when you see him in interviews on TV. It hasn't translated to his live show, though. Super sad.
10:41: Nice set. He hits "Disco Inferno," the immensely fun "OK, You're Right" and then hops up on a tiny stage they built beforehand on the Arena stage to raise himself a few feet higher to perform "Many Men." He does the first few bits of "Many Men" with the room completely black. It's the first (and, to this point, only) time he's stringed together a few singular moments into an extended set.
10:45: He's doing "In Da Club." And it appears to be the radio edit. Strange.
10:55: There's a cool animation up on the screen right now of a graveyard in the rain. Each of the tombstones has the name of a rapper 50 quarreled with. Nice. What ever happened to Ja Rule? Is he still alive?
10:57: "Patiently Waiting." Man, Eminem went to work on that song. Have you heard it? Listen to it. The underlying narrative is pretty clear: "Yo, I'm cosigning your talent, 50. You're good. But don't forget I'll fuck you up if ever come at me." Eminem is the man.
11:05: What the? 50 literally just stopped rapping and said something to the DJ like, "Hey, why'd you stop?" The DJ responded with something about how they've gone five minutes over. Now, pretty much everyone in here thinks he's doing the "Fuck What They Say, I Love My Fans And I'm Going To Give Them A Few Extra Minutes Of My Music" move that just about everyone does. Only he doesn't. He says, "They're saying I went over. Thanks for coming out." Then gets off the stage and walks away. There were a few enjoyable individual moments tonight, but, save for the 10:41 timestamp, 50 never seemed to be able to link up with the crowd for any substantial stretch. There was no hot streak. It was an okay evening, but nothing anybody is going to remember a couple of weeks from now as being anything terribly important. This is a completely apropos ending. Dang.
For more photos from the concert, check out our slideshow.