50 Cent puts on an old-school night of sex, drugs and violence

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50 Cent
Qudos Bank Arena, December 8

How soon is too soon to be playing the nostalgia circuit? It doesn’t seem that long ago that 50 Cent was topping the charts and producing hits that were almost mandatory for a night at the club, but it has been 20 years since he instructed us to Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and he’s calling this tour The Final Lap.

While Curtis Jackson III might have evolved to become a mogul, actor and executive producer of television, 50 Cent the rap star sticks to the tricks that made him famous in the first place: tight, funky grooves and smooth flows about sex, drugs and violence that leave nothing to the imagination.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson on his tour of Australia.Credit: Rick Clifford

After a false start when a smoke detector appeared to malfunction, undermining the Houdini-inspired entrance, 50 whipped through the early songs in the set with panache. What Up Gangsta and I Get Money set the theme for the night with their macho braggadocio.

The hard-working dancers brought the sex appeal for Lil’ Kim collab Magic Stick, and between them, the band, the light show and the pyrotechnics, there were no dull moments. For all of 50 Cent’s skill at creating hooks and executing bars, his vocals can skew towards the monotonous; he gets around this by never lingering too long on any one song, and putting on a spectacle.

The highlights came in the middle. After a costume break and a much more effective apparition floating in the middle of the stadium, 50 brought sheer hedonism in the form of the Caribbean-tinged P.I.M.P. and the dance floor-driven Candy Shop.

On the slower and more reflective side, the R&B-inspired 21 Questions proved a reminder 50 Cent can be intimate without being explicit. In other hands it might have even been touching, but before too long he had returned to the sexy Just a Lil Bit and the barnstorming In da Club.

That was the peak of the show. The encore was more for the hardcore fans as he dived into covers and deeper cuts, but he sent us away with a fiery, feisty version of I’ll Whip Ya Head Boy from the 2005 semi-autobiographical film, also titled Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

It’s a bit sad to think of 50 Cent’s hits as oldies, but you can’t blame him for polishing them off and making gold out of them.

50 Cent plays a second and final Sydney show at Qudos Bank Arena on December 9.

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