Out of nowhere, G-Unit feeds the streets with "The Beauty of Independence" EP to hold the fans over until the main course.
After he proved he was a bankable rapper, 50 Cent started his own imprint and made G-Unit his first priority. For a while Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck and Fiddy were consistently putting out quality music that fed the streets. But all good things must come to an end. In the Unit's case, the general fell out with first Young Buck and kicked him out of the group. This was already after Cali rapper The Game was shown the door and the two became embroiled in a long-running beef. Then 50 grumbled about Banks and his work ethic. The Queens rapper became more focused on non-music projects and concentrated his time on his clothing label, budding acting career and other business ventures and he became even richer in the process. Meanwhile, Banks’ career floundered; Yayo was in and out of legal trouble; and Young Buck seemed to suffer the most and had to watch the government auction off his personal possessions to pay for his looming tax bill.
But a funny thing happened on the way to 50 Cent’s appearance at this year’s Hot 97 Summer Jam. In late February, the rapper announced he was leaving Shady Records, Aftermath, and Interscope, and instead opted to go the independent route. Even though just months earlier he was adamant about not getting the old unit back together, he took the stage that Sunday in June and made an announcement that no one thought would happen again: G-Unit was back together. Following their reunion performance, 50 and his cohorts were on a tear. They released freestyle after freestyle hyping their fans up in truly believing this time they’ll make it work. The last time they released anything together was in 2008 but with the promise of full G-Unit album in the fall, Fiddy, Banks, Buck, Yayo and newly added fifth member Kidd Kidd continued to feed the street with new music.
Then out of nowhere, the five-member unit unleashed The Beauty of Independence. The six-track EP dropped quietly on iTunes and it’s meant to hold G-Unit fans over until the main course is served in the late fall.
The album opens with “Watch Me,” an appropriate song because they know with the buzz that they’ve created just by getting in the same room together would draw attention. All five members flex on their bars, showing off the many reasons why when they step in a club all eyes are on them. But that’s all of the flexing they’ll do. G-Unit gets back to the dark, gritty, drug-slinging, gun toting music that made them the favorite in the streets back in their heyday.
The fearsome five-some dives right in the slow, creeping “I Don’t Fuck With You” and they dare anyone to come at them sideways. G-Unit has always shined when they stick to what they know best and it was evident in “Digital Scale.” No matter how many times he tries to do love songs or goes commercial, Fiddy is on point when he reverts back to the old drug dealer in the streets:
“Sixty-two eights of that raw, imported keys/ Half of chicken whole chicken/ Niggas got to cop 'n' go, yo/ I said you niggas got to cop 'n' go/ This is like fast food, nigga/ May I take your order?/ I require nothin' cookin' but bakin' soda 'n' water”
Newcomer Kidd Kidd may not be as well known as his other G-Unit counterparts but the New Orleans rapper held his own in “Digital Scale:”
"You known from the get-go/ I ain't 'bout to let nobody play with my green/ When they coward belly yellow/ Polka-dot carbine on your chest, screamin' "hold on"/ Hold on/ You see my face and let go/ I'm from the N.O.; better check the death toll/ You was playin' Casanova/ Cookin' bitches casserole/ I was on the ave with O's, me and red taggin' toes/ On the Greyhound bus/ Pounds in my baggy clothes"
The Guerilla Unit takes a brief reprieve and get reflective on how money and fame can have certain effects on the people they thought were in their corner with “Changes.” 50 once again leads the way:
"All I'm hearing is Jimmy want my shit to flop, Dre don't care if I blow/ God damn, all this from fucking selling headphones/ Chris died, Theo didn't show up to a nigga wake/ Which indicates the team I thought we built, it was fucking fake/ Barry's drunk, Barry dump, Barry's in the pen again/ I'm back at the drawing board, somebody call Eminem."
If this was meant to solely serve as the opening act to the main round, then The Beauty of Independence has certainly served its purpose. But somehow Yayo got lost in the shuffle even though you could tell they all tried to get equal shine on each track. And it’s interesting to note that Lloyd Banks was noticeably absent at times. If nothing else, G-Unit has managed to bring back that nostalgic feeling from back in the day when hardcore thugs off of the corner weren’t too embarrassed to one-two step in the club with a pair of Timberlands on. And it makes us even hungrier for the main event.