Curtis is the third studio album by rapper 50 Cent. Released on September 11 2007, the album features production from Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Timbaland, among others. Guest appearances include Akon, Justin Timberlake, Nicole Scherzinger, and other notable musicians.
Music critics have noted that 50 Cent divides between "hard" songs and "soft" songs on the album. Curtis was released to significant commercial success, selling 691,000 copies in its first week on the Billboard 200, the highest sales week for an East Coast album since Jay-Z's Kingdom Come debuted with 680,000 copies sold. The album's sales competition with Kanye West's Graduation was considered to be a "great day for hip hop".
The album's title was changed twice. The first time, it was changed from "Curtis" to "Curtis S.S.K.". The second time, it was changed back to "Curtis". The "S.S.K.", which stood for "SoundScan Killer", was intended to show the pressure 50 Cent felt to succeed. The "S.S.K." also stands for "SouthSide King" and "Shoot, Stab, Kill".
50 Cent stated that the album was inspired by his life before his commercial debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. He also stated that he chose the album's title because he was known as "Curtis" before he became famous.
Curtis vs. Graduation
In July 2007, Kanye West changed the release date of Graduation, his third studio album, from September 18 2007, to the same release date as Curtis, September 11 2007. This forced the albums to go head-to-head and compete for higher sales against each other. 50 Cent claimed that if Graduation sold more records than Curtis, he would stop releasing solo albums. However, he later dispelled his comments. When asked again about his threat to retire, 50 Cent stated that, if he were to lose, he will release an album every time a major Def Jam artist releases an album. Curtis debuted at number one on the Irish and Swiss album charts, claiming the top spot on the European Top 100 Albums chart. Curtis also topped the Australian and New Zealand album charts.
Graduation's first week sales of 957,000 and Curtis' first week sales of 691,000 meant that the competition resulted in only the second time ever (since Nielsen SoundScan began collecting data in 1991) that two albums sold more than 600,000 in a week in the United States. The first occurrence of such an event was in 1991, when Guns N' Roses released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, selling 685,000 and 770,000 copies, respectively. The first week sales totals of Graduation and Curtis have outsold the first week sales totals of Guns N' Roses' two albums.
I mean, it just brings memories back to me. I'm in my old space, see old faces, things start feeling the way they used to. Being able to write material from a perspective I couldn't probably write [from] in any other space like that. And I was in one of those funky creative spaces where I couldn't come up with nothing… For me, when I come back here, it's like my feet are on the ground. I don't think nothing is more painful than having known what it feel like to be successful and then having it taken away from you. So on some levels, it's healthy for me to go 'head and come from the financial space that I'm in back to here, as a reminder, so I can actually appreciate what I've got.
However, the album was recorded in other places as well. 50 Cent stated that he flew to Florida to work on "Ayo Technology" with Justin Timberlake, and finished the song in Houston. 50 Cent wrote a significant amount of the guests' lyrics.
RapReviews.com stated that "There is no dip in quality lyrically; 50 is often criticized for not being a good lyricist, but he's exceptionally witty in his writtens." RapReviews.com also stated that 50 Cent "manages to cover different themes very well", praising his "seduction" on "Follow My Lead":
You listen to the rumors, they say, "50 fuckin' crazy"
"50 don't know how to treat a lady." They wrong
I like you a lot, I don't want to hurt you
But I call a square a square and a circle a circle
So if you act like a bitch, I'll call you a bitch
Then hang up, probably call you right back and shit
And have to say, "Baby, I apologize."
Cross my fingers, God forgive me for telling lies
Like Janet Jackson said, "I miss you much"
I really want to feel your touch…
I write the check before the baby comes
Who the fuck cares?
I'm stanky rich
I'm a die tryin' to spend this shit.
You know tomorrow's just a day away
If you can just keep your heart beatin' and your ass awake.
Stylus Magazine stated that "the beats on Curtis sound about as dated and cheap as any Koch record." Stylus Magazine added that "each no-name producer (Veto and Roomio? Jake One? K Lassik?) provides the comfort food they know he'll lap up." Pitchfork Media shares Stylus Magazine's view, saying that 50 Cent "should be able to work with producers who could conjure his hit-making abilities, but instead the MC mostly sticks with tried-and-failed G-Unit stalwarts and Dre-aping up-and-comers that do him few favors." Sputnikmusic praised the production on "Ayo Technology", writing: "Timbaland's shred-guitar-goes-keyboard melody is just mesmerising enough to work."
While Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre featured mostly G-Unit and G-Unit Records artists respectively, Curtis features artists that 50 Cent has never worked with before, such as Akon, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke, Timbaland and Nicole Scherzinger from Pussycat Dolls. When asked about his choice of working with artists outside of his company, 50 Cent stated, "The album, for me, was finding a space where I am content and comfortable with my career, where I can go off and create with other artists and experiment a little bit."
Curtis sold approximately 691,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release, which is the fourth highest sales week for an album in 2007 so far (originally topping Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight which sold 625,000, but later being outsold by the Eagle's Long Road Out of Eden, which moved 711,000 units and later Alicia Keys' As I Am bringing in 742,000 copies). However, Curtis brought in the lowest first week sales of 50 Cent's career, with Get Rich or Die Tryin' selling 872,000 and The Massacre moving 1.1 million copies. As of December 27 2007, Curtis has sold 1,201,833 copies in the United States.
Curtis debuted at number two on the United World Chart, selling approximately 921,000 copies worldwide in its first week. As of November 17 2007, Curtis has sold approximately 1,728,000 copies worldwide. However, Vivendi contradicted the United World Chart's claim, stating that Curtis sold nearly two million copies worldwide in less than a week after its release.
Curtis received mixed reviews from music critics. All Music Guide wrote that Curtis "is entertaining but only impressive in that 50 can run in place and still be on top." AllHipHop.com called it "a step backwards" and "while the album is not a total brick, it lacks a true consistency where his previous work flowed seamlessly and almost every record worked." The Boston Globe stated that, "artistically, West is always moving, while 50 is at a standstill."
The Chicago Tribune wrote that, "at a time when consumers are expressing their dissatisfaction with music-industry product", the album provides "exactly what they say they don't want: More of the same." Rolling Stone noted that 50 Cent is "out to prove he's everything he used to claim", and like The Massacre, he "divides between hard songs ("Man Down," "Fire," "I'll Still Kill") and soft songs ("Follow My Lead")". Rolling Stone also noted that, on Curtis, 50 Cent is for the first time "letting guests sing most of the hooks."
Time magazine named "I Get Money" one of The 10 Best Songs of 2007, ranking it at #6. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised the song as "hypnotic", observing that its appeal is owed to the "Top Billin" sample, and that 50 Cent's bemusement at his own survival and success "makes the song as wry as it is scary." The album helped him win Best-Selling Hip-Hop Artist at the 2007 World Music Awards.
|2||"My Gun Go Off"||Adam Deitch & Eric Krasno||3:12|
|3||"Man Down" (censored)||Detroit Red, co-produced by Don Cannon||
|4||"I'll Still Kill"||DJ Khalil||Akon||3:41|
|5||"I Get Money"||Apex||3:44|
|6||"Come & Go"||Dr. Dre (keyboards by Dawaun Parker & Mark Batson)||Dr. Dre||3:29|
|7||"Ayo Technology"||Timbaland, co-produced by Danja||Justin Timberlake & Timbaland||4:08|
|8||"Follow My Lead"||Tha Bizness||Robin Thicke||3:18|
|9||"Movin on Up"||Jake One||3:24|
|10||"Straight to the Bank"||Ty Fyffe, additional production by Dr. Dre||3:11|
|11||"Amusement Park"||Dangerous LLC||3:09|
|12||"Fully Loaded Clip"||Havoc||3:14|
|13||"Peep Show"||Eminem (keyboards by Mike Strange, additional keyboards by Jeff Bass & Tony Campana)||Eminem||3:52|
|14||"Fire"||Dr. Dre (keyboards by Dawaun Parker & Mark Batson)||Nicole Scherzinger & Young Buck||2:50|
|15||"All of Me"||Jake One||Mary J. Blige||3:52|
|17||"Touch the Sky"||K-Lassik Beats||Tony Yayo||3:10|
|*||"Smile (I'm Leavin')" (iTunes pre-order bonus track/Japan bonus track)||K-Lassik Beats||4:29|
|*||"I Get Money (Forbes 1-2-3 Remix) (iTunes Bonus Track)||Apex||Diddy & Jay-Z||4:31|
|*||"Hustler's Ambition" (UK bonus track)||B-Money "B$"||4:02|
An asterisk (*) indicates a bonus track.
Information taken from Curtis' liner notes.
- Producers – 50 Cent (exec.), Adam Deitch, Apex, Tha Bizness, Dangerous LLC, Danja, Detroit Red, Don Cannon, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Eric Krasno, Havoc, Jake One, DJ Khalil, K-Lassik Beats, Timbaland, Ty Fyffe
- Mixing – Demo, Doug Sadler, Dr. Dre, Mahal, Ms. Lago, Shameless, Steve Baughman
- Assistant mixer – Shameless, Veto
- Keyboard – Adam Deitch, Dawaun Parker, Detroit Red, Eminem, Jeff Bass, Mark Batson, Mike Strange, Tony Campana
- Guitar/bass – Eric Krasno
- Engineers – Veto
- Assistant engineers – Roomio
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