50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ vs. Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele. 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.
When 50 Cent broke through, care of “How To Rob,” he ruffled more than a few feathers. One of those parties not amused was Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah. Years before Fif’s multi-platinum debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, G.F.K. was throwing his weight in 50’s direction on Supreme Clientele. The Queens juggernaut and the Staten Island “wally champ” don’t see eye-to-eye, and they don’t make the same kind of music. G.R.O.D.T. is uncompromising non-fiction-fueled Gangsta Rap, presented over polished production. Meanwhile, S.C. is rugged, loquacious, and gritty Hip-Hop. Both of these MCs are to-the-point, menacing music-makers. Facing off against each other, which 2000s classic backs down? (click one then click “vote”).
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent
- First Round Winner (against Rick Ross’ Teflon Don, 92% to 8%)
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
Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah
- First Round Winner (against Nas’ Life Is Good, 67% to 33%)
While the 1990s elicit great debate surrounding the greatest Wu-Tang Clan member solo works, Ghostface Killah threw a dart straight for the bull’s eye in Y2K. Supreme Clientele closely followed 1996’s Ironman with the swagger of a fighter already wearing the belt. G.F.K. had already gone platinum, and accrued a cult following within Hip-Hop. Years after throwing his weight around with the likes of The Notorious B.I.G., Ghost’ made his sophomore album like a man with nothing to fear. “Ghost Deini” and “Apollo Kids” were ring-entrances, as a robed Ghost’ welcomed all challengers, lyrically and in the streets. As the sound of commercially-viable Rap had embraced fabric softener, messages like “Stay True” and “Buck 50” bloodied the gums of smile-at-the-camera posers. As the Rap playlist favored overt-samples, Pop-tinged choruses, and lots of R&B, Tony Starks’ penchant for the unconventional resonated brilliantly. Even playing by the rules of the game, a record like “Cherchez La Ghost” did so on rugged Shaolin terms—announcing that he’s too nasty for females, and no third verse at all.
Like with Ironman, G.F.K. and his producers found a way to carefully inject 1980s Hip-Hop qualities. While S.C. was ’70s Soul-infused, the drum arrangements on “Mighty Healthy,” “The Grain,” and “One” were derived from Paul C., 45 King, and Marley Marl days. Although the mix and mastering of Supreme Clientele felt worthy of the Sony Records jacket, the would-be gold LP had the quality of a four-track recorder, and 12-second sampler. Dennis Coles stepped into the new millennium with grand visions of creativity, imagery, and coded slang, but he brought with him elements from his childhood that he refused to let go. More importantly, the LP’s lyrics are a step beyond the criminology heard on the debut. Largely inspired by a trip to Africa taken by Ghost’ and RZA, the album deals greatly with knowledge of self, heritage, and pride. Although G.F.K. was still menacing on the mic and in his details, the Gangsta Rap feel of the debut gave way to a more abstract texture. Supreme Clientele is the album that would catapult Ghostface Killah’s persona, and style through the next 15 years. He was the star of his own quirky show, and somebody who could be tongue-in-cheek, whimsical, and raunchy, but always to be taken 100% seriously.
Album Number: 2 (solo)
Released: February 8, 2000
Label: Razor Sharp/Epic/Sony Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #7 (certified gold, March 2000)
Song Guests: RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Method Man, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Redman, Hell Razah, Solomon Childs, Lord Superb, Madam Majestic, 60 Second Assassin, T.M.F. (Trife Da God, Tommy Whispers & Kryme Life), Chip Banks, Dennis Coffey, The Dramatics, Rudy Robinson, David Brandon, Carl Robinson
Song Producers: (self), RZA, Inspectah Deck, Juju, Allah Mathematics, Carlos “6 July” Broady, Haas G, Choo the Specializt, Black Moes-Art, The Blaquesmiths
So which is the better album? Make sure you vote above.
Related: Finding The GOAT: The Albums.