NEW YORK — The ride to 25th Street from the G-Unit offices outside of Times Square in 50 Cent's SUV wasn't long enough — the G-Unit General needed a little more time to play his record.
Outside of his camp, nobody had heard a lick of material from his street album, War Angel LP (which became available for download Tuesday), and he was eager to preview a few tracks for MTV News. Fif sat in his seat and pressed a button. Up came a huge flat screen from behind his manager Chris Lighty, who was seated facing 50 in the four-passenger SUV.
The screen displayed the Internet, not TV. Fif is big on the Web, if you haven't noticed. He said the traffic on his Web site, ThisIs50.com, has doubled since he started responding to Rick Ross' disses earlier this year with comebacks like his popular "Pimpin' Curly" skits.
50 Cent is bigger in music, however. He said his Before I Self Destruct is just about perfect. He would put it out before its September due date, but he wants that setup time. Don't think he'll be waiting for Interscope Records to come up with marketing plans. The Queens native knows exactly what to do to get his fans in line. 50 was planning to drop another gem on the mixtape circuit, and he delivered in grand fashion, debuting War Angel LP on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show.
Why did Fif decide to bring War Angel to radio instead of just posting it online like a normal mixtape? "Because it's made like an LP," 50 said. Besides getting people geared up for his album, 50 has an important mission: bringing hardcore rap back to the forefront. He said hip-hop is getting too watered-down, and he's tired of every hit record having someone singing the hook.
"It's not like they don't feel the difference in the material and the content also," 50 said of New York's Hot 97, hinting that the station is eager to get some quality, harder-edge records to put in rotation. "They're ready for it. You gonna see by the response."
50 recorded War Angel in just three days, and in less than two weeks, he was ready to give it to the masses.
"This material, I felt it fits the summer," he said. "The whole vibe. I used the War Angel title for it [because] I read a comic book through Marvel Comics. [NOTE: Brian Pulido's "War Angel" comic book series was originally published in 2005 by Avatar Press, not Marvel Comics.] The guy who created it, he's done 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and illustrations I'm familiar with. He created this concept: War Angel. God created these angels to create war. It's necessary on some level. I took the concept. It's kinda from the perspective I grew up under.
"This one was exciting for me," he added with a grin. "I have [writing] spurts. Like when I did [the original version of] The Massacre. I recorded the album in three days. It was like this [with War Angel]: two-verse songs. No third verse is on these records."
As the SUV pulled up to Hot 97, he and his squadron arrived a little early, so he can play some of the music. The beat for "C.R.E.A.M. 2009" bum-rushed out of the speakers in a rampage.
"It's a cycle, creatively," Fif said. "It was a lot of soft music, a lot of lighthearted music, then DMX came out. Then it was like, 'That's what I'm talking about.' 'Get at Me Dog,' it was that material that had that energy around it, then it got all lighthearted and soft all over again. Then there was 50 Cent, and that went on for five years. It's different points. When I give them hard, they feel like something's getting ready to happen, like somebody is going to get hurt. When I start to show them some of the things I'm familiar with, based on my upbringing, they go, 'Wow.' Like 'A Psychic Told Me,' that type of vibe, they start going, 'This is not good. Somebody is going to get hurt.' Then I fall back off, because I know it's too much for them. It's too much from an entertainment perspective. ... You gotta lighten up just to have an opportunity to make that real material."
Once he was upstairs on Flex's show, the DJ asked about everything from Rick Ross to Diddy, who 50 divulged wanted $2 million a few years ago to let Mase record on G-Unit Records. Obviously, that deal didn't happen; 50 said Mase wasn't worth it. He also gave his opinion on Lil Wayne and Drake.
"I think he's cool," Fif said of Weezy. "He's in a good space. They got some heat going. Drake is coming up. I heard Jay got him on a single? That was fast. That was ill. For him to put him on a single, that's ill. I don't know if he's rhyming or singing. The fact that he's on it, that was a fast come-up. Jay won't even rap on his own artists' records."
After Flex, Fif returned to the G-Unit office to shoot a video for the mixtape with Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. No spoilers here, but we can tell you that Fif did get in a costume.
"While a lot of them is sleeping, I'm up working," 50 said with a grin, moments before his team would push the button so fans could download War Angel LP for free on ThisIs50.com. "We'll be here working all night."