Top 10 songs by 50 Cent

50 centHate him or love him, 50 knows how to make hits.

Since the 2003 release of his debut album, “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” 50 Cent has basically run the rap game, single-handedly destroying the careers of lesser rappers like Ja Rule, racking up multiple #1 hits and garnering 11 Grammy nominations.

If you want to understand 50’s appeal, look at his album covers. He appears both shirtless and disgruntled, a gangster with sex appeal, or a sex symbol with a violent streak. Either way, the formula has founds its way into his songs, and it works.

On club joints, 50 gets right to the point: Go to a club, party, go home with multiple females. Not exactly the stuff that after-school specials are made of, but it’s fun to dance to. 

On non-singles, 50 gets into the not-so-radio friendly details of his life, a disarmingly straightforward look through the eyes of someone that’s made it out of one of New York’s toughest neighborhoods: Jamaica, Queens. Not coincidentally, these non-radio songs are usually his best ones.

Many overlook 50’s skill because he knows how to craft hits and doesn’t attempt to be overly complex or profound. But it’s no coincidence he’s been co-signed by some of hip hop’s elite, including Dr. Dre and Eminem, and built one of rap’s most successful empires in hip hop army G-Unit.

In no particular order, here are 50 Cent’s Top 10 songs:

In Da Club

No discussion of 50’s catalog would be complete without a mention of “In Da Club.” While it may not be a standout in terms of lyrics, it’s backed by a bangin’ track by Dr. Dre. There’s no deeper meaning here, it’s all about having fun. And usually when you hear the song, that’s exactly what you want to do. Come on, you know when you hear “Go shorty, it’s ya birthday…” you want to get up and dance.

This song was basically part of the soundtrack to any trip to the club in 2003, and garnered two Grammy nominations – one for Best Male Rap Solo Performance, and one for Best Rap Song, though it won neither. It did, however, reach #1 on the charts.

Magic Stick

This is a duet with Lil’ Kim that again, isn’t exactly pushing the envelope. It’s the standard rap formula – rhyme about sex – with a twist. There’s a thinly veiled metaphor which allows 50 to be explicit without being totally vulgar. 50 would again use this tactic in “Candy Shop,” which wasn’t quite as good a song, though it raced up the charts to No. 1.

Technically off Lil’ Kim’s “La Bella Mafia,” “Magic Stick” has 50’s presence all over it, so much that it seems more his song than hers.

What Up Gangsta

An often overlooked song that served as the opener on 50’s debut album and opens most of his concerts. This song was never released as a single but it bangs nonetheless. The beat is a driving number with piercing strings and 50’s lyrics are slightly more hardcore than his single fare. He’s basically letting you know he doesn’t play around.

In My Hood

Another non-single that probably couldn’t be one – this isn’t club fare, this is, as the song title suggests, a picture of the darker side of life. It features a somewhat laid-back beat, but the ferocity is all in 50’s voice, which features a rougher edge than on his sing-songy hits. 50 is simply painting a picture of life in the hood.

Ryder Music

Another song that is perfectly described by its title – this is the type of song you just want to ride around to. The beat is an old-school ’70s soul-type sound, laid back without being boring, melodic without being too pretty, as 50 simply raps about life. The beat is the perfect container for 50’s easy storytelling, which jumps from topic to topic without being disjointed.

Just A Lil’ Bit

Okay, I had to throw another single in here, and this is a good one. A Scott Storch beat laced with Indian-style whistles and a catchy staccato snare. Again, the subject matter isn’t profound, and it isn’t trying to be. 50 is talking about getting with a female. But it works. This song went to #1 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts and #3 overall.

Position of Power

This is off 50’s sophomore album, “The Massacre.” The great thing about this song is that while it’s ostensibly about power, the song is undeniably melancholy. Partly because of the beat, but partly because of how 50 approaches the concept of power, as if he’s not so much excited by it, but simply requires it in a kill or be killed environment. Like an item he checks off on his hood to-do list.

Back Down

Off “Get Rich…” this is a standout for two reasons: One, it’s just a good song, and two, it disses Ja Rule. The lyrics are hilarious as well as accurate – “You sing for hoes and sound like the cookie monster,” for example. The beat is all heavy bells and sinister synths, another standout Dre track.

Wanksta

Another Ja Rule dis song, this was 50’s first single and climbed to No. 13 on the charts. With a sinewy bassline and weird, video game-like melody it’s a little different than most of what’s on the radio, and most of 50’s other hits, but it works.

Outta Control (Remix) featuring Mobb Deep

My personal favorite, simply for the Dre beat and the chorus. The verses are kind of negligible, even from Havoc and Prodigy of Mobb Deep, one of my favorite rap groups. This is another club song, and rightfully so. It climbed to No. 6 on the charts.

Honorable Mentions (These songs would have made the list, except that 50 played a lesser role in them):

“Poppin’ Them Thangs” off G-Unit’s Beg For Mercy
“Hate It or Love It” with The Game, off The Documentary
“How We Do” with The Game, off The Documentary
“Westside Story” with The Game, off The Documentary
“So Seductive” with Tony Yayo, off Thoughts of a Predicate Felon

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