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Production On G-Unit’s T.O.S.

Prior to T.O.S. dropping, I sat down and had a conversation with 50 Cent for, and we got on the topic of production.

Complex: On this album and on Curtis, you started working more with big name producers. How does getting production from guys who are known for making hits, like Swizz and Polow Da Don, change the way you approach making a record?

50 Cent: The circumstances of how you get the music. Because I don’t care who produced the record, if you get it or listen to it through an iPod or stereo in a car, you can tell whether you actually want to use it. You get music in the studio, which is the best place for you to actually listen to music because the rooms are designed to play music, you’re gonna hear shit that you’re not going to hear in those other places. And they got a presentation. You come in there, the producer has two or three of his mans there, and they nodding like this is the hardest shit in the world. And that shifts your energy to feeling like you already paid for the session, you spent $150 an hour, and now you like, “Let me get a pad.” You end up writing that record just because of your circumstances of you being there and them playing the record. So I don’t like to be in the studio, I like to get the music and just listen to it and vibe.

People who bought T.O.S. should take note that anything Polow Da Don produced didn’t make the cut (why?). But the Swizz track is still on there, and in my opinion it’s one of the weaker joints on the album. Knowing my taste, it’ll probably end up being the next single or something, but I digress.

To get back to 50’s quote, his line of thinking is both a gift and a curse for producers and artists alike. For producers, it levels the playing field when you know a big artist like 50 is not going to just be sold because he’s in the studio with a producer who’s trying to sell him on some song idea (like Timbaland probably did with “Ayo Technology,” just sayin). It gives the no-name producer equal opportunity, allows them to be judged solely on the music, rather than the bells and whistles that come along with being in the studio and having someone play you a whole bunch of tracks. When you’re in the moment, jamming, everything sounds hot. And that’s the point 50 is making, it’s easier to make the sale when you’re right there in the room. When your shit is on an Ipod playlist with 100 other tracks, the best track wins. That also sucks for the producer, because it winds up just being a crapshoot based on how 50 feels that day…. in essence, what track jumps out at him. That’s like throwing darts at a board with a blindfold on. As a producer, you’d rather play the tracks and be able to make the sale.

For the artist, in this case 50, I think it’s also limiting to just listen to tracks and vibe out to them. That’s sort of a 2003-ish way of selecting tracks and making music, and probably one of the reasons why G-Unit and a lot of other artists in hip-hop haven’t really progressed musically. That whole idea of sifting through a bunch of tracks off a CD or playlist, throwing it in Pro Tools and recording to a 2track…. ah man, that whole process is so uninspiring. I feel like 50, at this point in his career, should really lock in with someone and do a whole album.

That said, I was surprised by T.O.S. I thought it was going to be a let-down, but I’m actually feeling it quite a bit, and I’m not that big of a 50/G-Unit fan to begin with. The beats are all pretty crazy, in that sort of New York mixtape-ish sort of way… and they definitely got the vibe down pat. It’s all hard drums and mid-tempo grooves, that typical G-unit sound. Give it up for the only New York rappers making New York rap.

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