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Record Rating: ***

50 Cent - The Massacre - Universal Music Heís quickly become everybodyís favorite gangster rapper. Only a few years in the hip-hop limelight and heís being compared to hip-hop's legendary super thugs Ė the late Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. Sure the comparison maybe based on little similarities that include violent lyrics, life-endangering encounters, brazen attitudes and his tattoo-clad frames.

But the fact that his debut Get Rich or Die Tryiní sold seven million copies and became one of the biggest albums of 2003, you have to admit heís got talent, it's a given thing. 2005 finds 50 Cent returning with The Massacre, his third official solo album. Backed by the production wizardry of Dr. Dre and Eminem among others, the rapper tries to deliver another jolting collection of gritty street anthems that he did in 2003.

At a slightly overstuffed 78 minutes, it's overwhelming, full of the brutal thug rhythms and aggressive rhyming that the legion of commercial rap fans demand. Tracks This Is 50, I Donít Need ĎEm and Iím Supposed To Die Tonight dominated by the Iíve been shot 9 times personality of 50 Cent: this formula should not fail. But fail it does. Itís no exaggeration to mention that almost all the 20 plus tracks are desperately poor clones of one another. Fans of 50 Cent will argue that heís street and raps authentic verses, and of course that his phenomenal unit pushing ability somehow redeems this manís lack of musical talent. With two videos Candy Shop and Disco Inferno in constant rotation on radio and TV, an autobiographical movie in the works, and even his endorsement deal with Reebok, itís safe to say that he still plans to continue his tenure of world domination for a while yet, though his music disappoints.

More so than any other music since the blues, hip-hop is all about stories. And its stories are both criminal minded and grand, making them enthralling and unbelievable, but also making them only as interesting and convincing as the teller. Fueled by his past track record of crime, violence, near-death experiences, and drug pushing Ė this should have been one of the years best releases. But itís not, unfortunately.

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