If you've been following 50 Cent closely over the last two months -- or even just kept an eye on what was going on in the rap world -- then you've actually already heard (or at least had the chance to hear) 91 percent of his fifth album, Animal Ambition, which hit stores on Tuesday (June 3).
Still, there's something different about listening to each track and watching its accompanying video on their own -- like we've done since he started dropping one per week in March -- and digesting the album in its totality.
"New York a concrete jungle where n---as got to get paid/ Get in the way of that paper and n---as got to get sprayed/ Look at me wrong and you dead, you'd be very afraid/ I don't know how to behave/ I'm tamed fresh out the cage," Fif raps on the title track, which was the only one of the 11 on the album to not be officially released before today. Signature threats like these from the Queens native are present throughout the 39-minute effort.
It's been just shy of five years since 50's last official album (2009's Before I Self Destruct), but in many ways, it's the same old 50 on his latest. And that's exactly what was needed.
This album doesn't house soon-to-be-smash-hits on the level of the G-Unit general's early career domination, but there are cuts that could work in that world, from the catchy "Pilot" to the star-studded "Smoke," which features Trey Songz and is produced by Dr. Dre.
What's more, the album contains all the elements that helped make him a star: A seasoned songwriting ability; a keen understanding of melody; a healthy dose of self-confidence; and, for the first time in some time, an undeniable hunger and eagerness to prove himself.
The newly independent rapper's lack of musical relevance in recent years -- as compared to a decade ago -- is something he has admitted he was conscious of while working on this album. And tracks like the spooky Jadakiss and Kidd Kidd-assisted "Irregular Heartbeat" prove that there's a musical fire burning inside of 50.
The features reinforce the listening experience, too. Whether it's Styles P and Prodigy on "Chase the Paper" or Yo Gotti on "Don't Worry 'Bout It," Fif found guests with whom he coexists well on a record.
While it's highly unlikely that 50 Cent will be able to mimic the multimillions in sales of years past, he is comfortable with taking us there musically. As he raps on the triumphant "Winner's Circle": "I'm tryna make it feel like the first time/ Like a junkie I'm sorta chasin' my first high."