Out of the whole Bluesfest lineup, this is the show I was looking forward to the most, which means it had the most potential to disappoint.
After going to the Flight Distance show right before, it was apparent that a crowd can make or break a show, and the 50 Cent crowd was good; marijuana smoke and mosh pits aside. This crowd of suburban looking kids knew their hip-hop and it made for a cool atmosphere.
50, along with G-Unit’s Tony Yayo and Uncle Murda, came out of the gate with the bangers that made them famous, like What up Gangsta and P.I.M.P. He also included some of his most popular features, including Lil’ Kim’s Magic Stick and Game’s Hate It Or Love It, and paid his respects to Prodigy of Mobb Deep, performing Outta Control.
He closed out the first half of his set with two of his biggest hits, and arguably two of the biggest bangers in hip-hop history – Candy Shop and In Da Club. Then the lights went out as if the show was over, but we knew better.
If there was anything to complain about after the first half of his performance it was that 50 kind of rushed through his classics, probably to fit everything into his one hour time slot. Personally, I was there to hear Candy Shop and In Da Club. I thought to myself, “That can’t be it. He’s gonna bring them back.” Nope. That was it. Listening to the people around me, I wasn’t the only person disappointed.
Another complaint was his voice. He sounded a little bit hoarse so it didn’t exactly feel like we were getting 50 at his best.
After the crowd yelled for an encore, 50, Yayo and Uncle Murda came back with Strong Enough, 21 Questions and Window Shopper. Prior to the show I was hoping he’d close with In Da Club but oh well.
As 50 got through his set, it served as a reminder of his place in hip-hop history. He dominated hip-hop for almost a decade, ending careers along the way. He also dominated the club scene like no rapper before and after him. I mean, he clearly has the best hooks in the history of the game. Try to name someone who has better hooks than 50. That’s right, you can’t.
Also, there’s a rare artist that can make a crowd go into a frenzy like 50 Cent and that was in full display last night.
His show was also a reminder of how much hip-hop has evolved. Today, the clubs are dominated by trap music, aka mumble rap. When compared to Nas, Jay-Z and Eminem in the early to mid-2000’s 50 Cent was a good lyricist but not necessarily on that level, but when compared to today’s rappers you now see just how good of a lyricist he is. His style is also in stark contrast to the conscious, thought-provoking music of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and now Jay-Z, whose latest album, 4:44, 50 called “golf course music”.
50 Cent is definitely one of the GOATS of hip-hop who’s been able to stay relevant to a younger crowd, through his music, his hit show Power or his highly entertaining Instagram account, when other artists of his time were put out to pasture a long time ago.
Overall, it was a great show. 50 Cent smiled throughout and seemed surprised at times that the crowd knew his lyrics as much as they did. That’s what happens when you’re one of the GOATS.
Ottawa’s Flight Distance, who I hadn’t seen perform since House of Paint in 2015, opened for 50 Cent in front of one of the most disengaged crowds I’ve ever been a part of at a hip-hop concert, and it wasn’t fair to the artists. I mean you’re talking about Bender, a former King of the Dot battle rap champion, and his partner Patience rapping on top of underground hip-hop beats that any Wu-tang fan should appreciate. I guess it’s an acquired taste.
As a fan of local music there was plenty to geek out about. At one point, SawBuck of Buck-n-Nice, who has such a clean and effortless flow, and Christian Awad, aka Zeebot, of Sound of Lions joined Flight Distance on stage for Looneys. The beat on Looneys was so crazy it had me bobbing my head with a mean mug face. Whitney Delion, also of Sound of Lions, graced the stage as well.
Perhaps the highlight of the whole show was a blindfolded set by local beat maker Circa Beatz. Watching him do his thing, it’s obvious he’s going to be a star.
I don’t think the crowd really understood the level of homegrown talent on the stage, but that’s the Ottawa thing to do. We’re not the greatest at supporting and celebrating our own.