50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ vs. Rick Ross’ Teflon Don. Which Is Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.
50 Cent and Rick Ross are two elite Rap voices of the 2000s. Two jewels in their respective catalogs are Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and Teflon Don, respectively. For Fif’, he would put the pressure, patience, and payback all in one album. His studio debut was a multi-platinum bulldozer over his enemies, and a reminder of Tupac-like conflict theatrics. Rick Ross’ album, would be a pivot after more than six years. Ross welcomed in fledgling hit-maker Lex Luger to maximize the energy level surrounding his boisterous vocals, clever lyrics and in-the-know themes. Both of these albums are cinematic staples, for two vastly different eras within the same 10-year span. Which endures better? (click one then click “vote”).
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent
In 1999, 50 Cent raised alarms when he released a soundtrack single, “How To Rob.” The gun-toting Southside Jamaica Queens MC broke through with a concept about compromising Hip-Hop’s stars and elite MCs. Figuratively, the song bagged the jewels and money. Literally, Curtis Jackson seemed to snatch some pride and poke some ego. The former Jam Master Jay protege who was signed to Trackmasters’ imprint at Columbia waited for his release date. As he did, Fif’ started getting immersed in controversy that included replies by Jay Z, Ghostface Killah, Big Pun, Wyclef Jean, and Kurupt. The bully, bad guy mentality was not just part of the persona on the mic. Additionally, 50’s street disputes would ultimately lead to the artist being shot a reported nine times in 2000. Between 1999 and 2001, 50 Cent went from the cusp of releasing Power Of A Dollar, to a near fatal experience. In the wake of it all, the movement halted. The hopeful MC (heard alongside ONYX, Next, and Blaque) would return to the streets, without a deal. At the time, Eminem may have been Hip-Hop’s brightest star. The Grammy-winning, #1 charting MC from Detroit, Michigan related to 50 Cent’s prankster ways, and underdog mentality. As Shady Records moved beyond its Detroit/D12 history, 50 Cent would become the label’s biggest signing. At a Tupac All Eyez On Me pace, 50 Cent—with a seven figure deal—would go into the studio surrounded by star producers and guests (including Dr. Dre and Em’). Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ would be the last laugh. The passed-over agitator who had been shot and left for dead now had his enemies in the cross-hairs of a multi-platinum scope.
50 Cent needed no concept for his album. The MC rapped it as he’d lived it. Songs like “Patiently Waiting” and “Many Men” were polished products of the last four years. The same rawness heard on street albums and mixtapes such as Guess Who’s Back? and 50 Cent Is The Future was exactly what was heard on the largest stage. This time, Fif’ just had bigger sounds and an all-star cast. “Back Down” teamed Fif’s fearless narrative with Dre’s pounding basslines, as 50 Cent finger-pointed at Ja Rule and Irv Gotti with a deadpan stare. Other partnerships with Dre, “Heat” and “If I Can’t” scratched at what ‘Pac and Dre could have accomplished, if they got along. Both the Doctor and Eminem had sounds that dignified 50 Cent’s vendetta. He rapped as he would on mixtapes and underground street DVDs. However, the world was watching. While Jay Z and Nas were immersed in a very personal Rap battle, 5-0 reminded millions what beef looked like—in his lyrics and his survivor’s story. The rapper unabashedly delivered his bars—short and direct, often with tinges of musicality in his voice. At the same time, the G-Unit leader seemed apathetic to technical deliveries or dazzling lyrical displays. 50 Cent’s story and his sincere convictions were paramount, and went unquestioned. Notably, the former Trackmasters pupil was quick to turn hits. “In The Club” applied the no-nonsense aesthetic to a dance record. With a knocking beat, 50 Cent made his own entrance music. “21 Questions,” assisted by Nate Dogg, looked at the prospects of incarceration, failure, and death—and made a love song out of it. Although hard to tell if he was the underdog or the bully at times, Curtis Jackson’s major label debut was the perfect Gangsta Rap album in the reality TV era. This album is the crown jewel of 50’s discography, and a time-piece in the rags-to-riches dream storyline of Rap music.
Album Number: 1
Released: February 4, 2003
Label: Shady/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #1 (certified gold, March 2003; certified platinum, March 2003; certified 6x platinum, December 2003)
Song Guests: Eminem, Young Buck, Nate Dogg, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, Tommy Coster, Mike Elizondo, Ruben Rivera, Luis Resto, Tracie Spencer
Song Producers: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Sha Money XL, Rockwilder, Red Syda, Rob “Reef” Tewlow, Digga, Luis Resto, Mike Elizondo, Brandon Parrott, Dirty Swif, Megahertz, J-Praize, Terrence Dudley
Teflon Don by Rick Ross
By his fourth album in four years, Rick Ross had fully hit his stride. The Miami, Florida-based star had no problem churning out hits, tirelessly doing features, and feeding the masses during a restructuring of the commercial music industry. Artists like Eminem, Jay Z and Nelly were yielding to artists like Lil Wayne, Kanye West, T.I. and Ross. 2009’s Deeper Than Rap was by no means a flop. However, the album—released amidst a growing feud with 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, pumped the brakes on the Maybach Music Group founder’s momentum. It would be the first of the R.R. LPs to not gather a gold plaque. A #1 album, the work had the hype, but lacked the explosion fans were used to since “Hustlin’.” In 2010, Teflon Don would allow Rick Ross to cherry-pick street-approved hits from his Albert Anastasia EP mixtape. Rather than try to use tapes to simply promote albums, Rick Ross used the streets to A&R his fourth LP just as much as DJ Khaled did. With producers like Lex Luger, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Jay Z mentor DJ Clark Kent on deck, Teflon Don had a sound that stuck. This gold-certified LP pulled Rick Ross away from the pack, and delivered him from stardom to Hip-Hop superstar.
Rick Ross had the streets and the southern clubs in mind. Two Lex Luger mixtape songs would amplify the movement. “B.M.F.” was Ross talking—not to the Rolling Stone crowd, but to the Feds magazine readership. Shouting out real-life gangsters over pounding beats, Ross started at his core, and the mainstream took notice. Moreover, Rick tapped Styles P for the street hit. Known for his star-stuffed LPs and incredible ear for beats, the song also known as “Blowin’ Money Fast” would raise the stakes. “MC Hammer” kept the tempo and energy high. Just as Ross used a street organization to direct one theme, he used the biggest star in Rap from 20 years to illustrate another. Beyond the raucous club tracks, the Triple C’s front-man also made smooth hits. “Aston Martin Music” was the latest in a sprawling series of Drake collaborations. With Chrisette Michele’s sultry vocals, Ross and Drake made a song that was about luxury cars, as they pertained to late night creeps. “Free Mason” was another high-profile collabo, with Jay Z, where the pair mocked the ever-increasing Illuminati hysteria in Hip-Hop. Prior to Teflon Don, it could be argued that even at Def Jam, William Griffin was not the biggest star. On an album that began with the sarcastic “I’m Not A Star,” Rick Ross proved he was. Teflon Don retooled Ross’ formula. His first work of the 2010s cemented that he was here to stay.
Album Number: 4 (solo)
Released: July 20, 2010
Label: Maybach Music Group/Slip-N-Slide/Def Jam Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #2 (certified gold, November 2010)
Song Guests: Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake, John Legend, Cee-Lo Green, T.I., Erykah Badu, Jadakiss, Styles P, Gucci Mane, Ne-Yo, Puff Daddy, Trey Songz, Chrisette Michele, Raphael Saadiq, Gabriel Bartolomei, Jeff Bhasker, Adam Brooks, Tanner Chung, Andre Cleghorn, Andrew Colella, Kaye Fox, Samuel Gibbs, Jacob Goins, Derrick Jackson, Rennie Johnson, Darrel Jones, Sang Kang, Brent Kolatalo, Juliene Kung, Stephen Lawrence, Ken Lewis, Michael Lu, Phil Mallory, Duncan Osborn, Kevin Randolph, Antonie Swain, Forrest Watkins, Jonathan White, Edward Williams III, Tony Williams, Brandon Wilson, Steve Wyreman, Tina Yu
Song Producers: Kanye West, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (Rook, Colione, & Barto), No I.D., The Inkredibles, DJ Clark Kent, The Remedy, Lex Luger, Danja, The Olympicks (B.P., J-Fab, Flawless, & Knoxville)
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.