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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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concert review for 50 Cent in Halifax

The last soulful funky concert I saw was James Brown last year (my review), and I found myself thinking about JB while I was at Fiddy's show Wednesday night. Not because 50 Cent's performance skills or music were up to par with James Brown, though. It was more about how 50 Cent is a kind of modern-day corollary to the sex-undertoned, dirty-ass funk music that Brown's music would have been when it was originally released.

But like I said: not that 50 Cent measures up, exactly.

The truth is that 50 Cent's repertoire is filled with good, heavy, kickin' beats, and at certain points in the set, the bass was so profoundly thundering (in a good way -- my GOD, in the best possible way) that my breastbone rattled and my pant legs shook. It was a beautiful feeling, that lowest of the low-bass kicks in the chest, over and over, with a slick, punchy bassline laid down on top. There were, undeniably, some killer grooves goin' on. There was some good pyro onstage too, plus a solid light show and more than enough bass-underlaid gunshot sound effects thrown in for good measure.

And our friends Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) and Lloyd Banks on the mics plus a decent, though uninspiring DJ whose name I didn't catch, put on a good show. Fiddy is quite funny in person, a great little ham onstage, and he can even carry a tune, which surprised me. His emceeing in general was really solid, and the show was well-produced: very few lags between tunes, no delays in general, smooth transitions between tunes and good stage action overall.

But some stuff was lacking.

There was NO turntablism. Not a single mix, scratch, crossfade, anything. My grandmother could have spun the records that night, because no doubt those gunshot effects weren't even on vinyl -- a button on an MPC be my guess -- and every other track was pre-produced and precisely timed, almost certainly just played from start to finish each time.

Too much nuts. From start to finish, the show was a testosterone-filled bragging session focused uniquely on Fiddy and his crew. Like, to a narcissistic (or at least, extremely conceited) level. Furthermore, there was not a whisper of femininity on stage, not even anything bootylicious. So unless you get off on watching a short muscular guy with bad teeth and a doorag march back and forth across the stage for 80 minutes, you'll leave that musical table feeling like you've eaten more than your fill of rude, greasy guy-ness. And shit, I'm a guy myself! And even a pretty big rap fan! But I found that vibe tiresome after a while.

(Side note: At James Brown's show, he had a crew of these gorgeous, athletic dancers on stage behind him, and I remember how they added a fantastic, exciting, and sensual dimension to the concert experience. Brown's music was freakin' badass, too. His band was smokin'. And of course, there's no band at a rap show.)

At its essence, the music lacks depth and substance. Of course, I lerve gangsta -- the harder the better, so long as the beat is kickin' -- but I realized that I've never listened to over an hour of it at one stretch. When I did so at this show, I found it totally lacking in the serious melodic, harmonic, and structural variety that makes good music great. There was nothing to sink your teeth into as a listener aside from some really killing bass and Fiddy's goatlike countenance -- if you wanted to trip out on an extended groove, or, God forbid, hear someone improvise something, ANYTHING, you were disappointed.

(You know, I shouldn't make so much fun of 50's appearance. His teeth are, arguably, awful, but his full-wattage smile is formidable -- even charming -- and at several points in the show, I was sure that I saw a sweet little guy in there putting on a gangsta trip for the crowd. One of my favourite lines from him that night was when he flopped down on the stage melodramatically, looked up mournfully at the spotlight, and opined, "Now c'mon Halifax, y'all love me now, don't you? Y'all give me more love than Jay-Z when he's around, don't you?" Hilarious.)

Bottom line: Great show overall, definitely worth the money and I had a really fun time. I mightn't bother seeing him again in this lifetime, though. I feel the need to cleanse my musical palate with some live music at the next gig I check out. Maybe I can hook up with Jurassic 5 or The Roots somewhere. That'd mos def be the shiznit.
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