By Erin J. Walter
Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 12, 2014
A grinning 50 Cent delivered a mix of hits and new tracks in an East Side warehouse Tuesday night, leaving some fans dancing in the streets and others disappointed by muddy sound and shortened songs.
"It was a classic set! Classic!" a man declared to agreeing friends on his way out of the 1100 Warehouse, throwing his hands in the air for emphasis.
"50 Cent was great," a woman said to her friend. "But he didn’t play a single entire song, and I was hoping for Eminem to jump out."
"Yeah, where were the special guests?" the friend wondered.
Indeed, it was just Fiddy for the party, but he was ably backed by a six-piece live band, including an especially energetic drummer who added punch to even abbreviated dance jams like "Candy Shop" and "Magic Stick"—a natural medley because they are, essentially, one fun song with two different names. (If you prefer to drown out the standard-issue misogyny of some of the lyrics, the throbbing live bass helped, too.)
50 Cent arrived on stage right on time Tuesday night—zero introduction, zero hype—and went right to it, working both sides of the stage, getting the audience to bounce, wave, and fill in lyrics on the biggest hits. Some quibbles aside, fans got what fans came for: Curtis Jackson in strutting, megawatt-smile form. Here was the man who made 2003’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’—one of the most motivational mainstream hip-hop albums in recent memory—performing (at least a verse or two of) every jam: "In da Club," "Patiently Waiting, " "Many Men (Wish Death)," "If I Can’t," "Poor Lil Rich," "What Up Gansta," "21 Questions," "P.I.M.P." and "Wanksta."
Rap and hip-hop have taken over SXSW 2014, with Kanye West, Jay-Z, 2 Chainz, Pusha T, Chance the Rapper, Ana Tijoux, Lizzo, Nas, and a slew of international, local and unknown MCs creating a palpable buzz throughout downtown. In the East Side warehouse, fans erupted at universal 50 Cent lyrics about striving:
"I’ve been patiently waiting for a track to explode on."
"I’m trying to be what I’m destined to be."
"If I can’t do it, homie, it can’t be done."
New songs from Animal Ambition, set for release this June, gave the vibe of gratitude and even joy. Unfortunately, 50 Cent’s stage banter and questions for the audience got little response, surely because the sound was muddled when he spoke. The crowd clearly wanted to interact with the performer but just wasn’t sure how to answer mystery questions. Instead, they danced and sang along for a solid 70 minutes. After years spent acting, writing, and most recently splitting from label Interscope, 50 Cent simply seemed happy back on stage.