In 2003, 50 Cent emerged as a tyrant in hipâ€“hop with the release of Get Rich Or Die Tryinâ€™. Already established as a rebel in his own right, the industry blacklisted him prior to its release. A deal with Columbia Records fell through. Meanwhile, songs like â€œHow To Robâ€ and â€œGhetto Quranâ€ established 50 Cent as a forceful MC that wouldnâ€™t hold his sharp tongue against heavyweights. Although his career hit a brick wall, his resilience and hunger caught the attention of Dr. Dre and Eminem. And maybe without those two, we wouldnâ€™t be celebrating one of the greatest hip-hop albums 20 years later.
The Final Lap tour appears to be 50 Centâ€™s final full-fledged trek on the road. The past decade hasnâ€™t seen him releasing much music but his television empire has grown exponentially. Marking the 20th anniversary of Get Rich Or Die Tryinâ€™ and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, The Final Lap tour has been nothing short of a spectacle; a time capsule that revisits 20 years of heat, from defining singles found on his chart-topping debut and sophomore releases to deep cuts that only his day-one fans can appreciate. With opening acts Pressa, Jeremih, and Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent celebrates his own contributions to the culture.
The opening acts all hold a place in 50 Centâ€™s heart to some capacity. The connection to Pressa seems to have developed more recently. Pressaâ€™s appearance on stage, alongside WhyG and Bundog, suggests that 50 Centâ€™s cooking up something in the 6ix. Tony Yayo hasnâ€™t shied away from expressing his appreciation for BunDog and Pressa in recent times, either. However, it strongly indicates that 50 Cent and Tony Yayo have taken the budding Toronto star under his wing. Itâ€™s an impeccable feat for Pressa, who has the bragging rights of touring with 50 Cent and Drake.
Read More: 50 Cent: The Media Mogul
There might not be another R&B artist whose influence is as understated as Jeremih. The Chicago-bornâ€™s catalog speaks for itself but in the past few years, his presence hasnâ€™t been as consistent. A serious and highly publicized bout with COVID-19 left him re-learning how to walk. Three years later, he made his triumphant comeback to the stage. His set brought fans through a decade-plus-worth of hits that sent a wave of nostalgia through the crowd.
Backed by a DJ and two scantily-dressed pole dancers, Jeremihâ€™s strain of futuristic stripper-friendly R&B anthems received its proper visual accompaniment. Jeremihâ€™s sheer presence took command of the Bell Centre. Through each song, the crowdâ€™s enthusiasm grew, eventually building up to songs like â€œOui,â€ â€œPlanez,â€ and of course, â€œBirthday Sex.â€ After not being on the road for a few years, Jeremihâ€™s catalog shines from night to night. Heâ€™s opening up in front of an audience of hardcore hip-hop fans. Even so, his sultry and airy vocals take control of the room.
Busta Rhymes & Spliff Starr Set The Stage Ablaze
With a career spanning 30 years, Busta Rhymesâ€™ is the definition of a timeless act. When he accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 BET Awards, he admitted that he never had a desire to be a solo artist while a member of Leaders Of The New School. Itâ€™s ironic, considering that his star power shone brighter than any one of his group mates. Busta Rhymes and Spliff Starrâ€™s live performance remains one of hip-hopâ€™s greatest acts by a landslide. Without gimmicks, the strength of Bustaâ€™s hits, bolstered by his chemistry and synchronicity with Spliff Starr, make for a dynamic performance. Busta said it best: â€œWe donâ€™t need no special effects. We are the special effects.â€Â
Bustaâ€™s dramatic intro kicks off with a WWE-like monologue, courtesy of Spliff Starr. Bustaâ€™s throne rotates as he joins his hypeman with high energy with M.O.P.â€™s â€œAnte Up (Remix).â€ The coordination between the two boils down to the details, with choreographed moves executed throughout the set.
Busta Rhymesâ€™ grip on the rap game from the late 90s to the 2000s was on full display. He went through classics like the funky, â€œPut Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.â€ Later, heâ€™d demand the women serenade him with Mariah Careyâ€™s hook on the uber-sensual, â€œI Know What You Want.â€ Of course, it wouldnâ€™t be a Busta show without performing â€œBreak Your Neck.â€
Although the last bit of his set felt abrupt, it became more personal. Busta and Spliff Starr would dive into records, some unreleased, before cutting them off before the hook came in. For example, Busta began performing â€œTouch Itâ€ and cut off the record before reaching the hook. The reason? Heâ€™s afforded that right through his 30+ year tenure in hip-hop.
Still, itâ€™s quite clear that one of Bustaâ€™s most mesmerizing moments as an MC only occurred within the past 12 years. He still raps his verse on Chris Brownâ€™s â€œLook At Meâ€ without skipping a beat. Itâ€™s truly a testament to a man who has mastered his craft. At 51 years old, Busta Rhymesâ€™s breath control is giving every MC in the game a run for their money. Before Busta left the stage, he had already shown us exactly why heâ€™s feared in the Verzuz space.
50 Cent Revisits His Heyday
50 Centâ€™s assumed the role of an elder statesman in hip-hop these days. His proximity to the music industry has largely consisted of the mentorship he provides to the younger generation. However, 50 Centâ€™s The Final Lap tour almost feels like a bid farewell for a titan in the rap industry. Joined by Tony Yayo and Uncle Murda as his faithful hypemen, 50 Cent implemented the precise choreography of a pop artist to bring fans through a journey of his greatest hits.
The elaborate stage setup included an extended platform that split the floor seats. Behind him were screens plastered from the top to the bottom of the stage. Joined by a DJ and a full band, who performed from an elevated platform, as well as a whole dance squad, 50 Cent created a Vegas-like atmosphere, where the lights, confetti, and pyrotechnics amplified the nostalgia of his unmatched run in the early 2000s. The screens behind them amplified the feeling of the East Coast as animated replicas of New York brownstone buildings and the city skyline displayed through records like â€œI Get Moneyâ€ and â€œHustlerâ€™s Ambitionâ€Â
Although a celebration of the 20-year anniversary of his debut album, 50 Cent proved that his career didnâ€™t necessarily phase out following his sales battle with Kanye West when Curtis dropped. He went across anthems on GRODT, The Massacre, Curtis, and even a few records from the past few years, whether â€œIâ€™m The Manâ€ or â€œThe Woo,â€ where he pays homage to his late prodigy, Pop Smoke.Â
While Fif managed to get through his vast catalog within the first half of the show, he eventually welcomed Jeremih back out on stage where they performed â€œDown On Meâ€ together and then, allowed the Chicago singer to deliver a gorgeous stripped-down version of â€œBirthday Sexâ€ on the piano. Afterward, Fif returned to the fold to close out the show, leading up to the extravaganza that accompanied â€œIn Da Club.â€ But for his encore, 50 Cent dived into the back catalog with anthems like â€œWanksta,â€ â€œSouthside,â€ and â€œPoor Lilâ€™ Richâ€ before finally closing out with, â€œIâ€™ll Whip Ya Head Boy.â€Â
In 2005, a Liberal Member of the Canadian Parliament petitioned to have 50 Cent banned from performing in Canada as a result of his lyrical content, largely the references to guns. Nearly 20 years later, 50 Centâ€™s The Final Lap tour yields far different results, providing fans with a healthy dose of nostalgia to revisit the early 2000s. No less of a gangster than he was when he came in the door, 50 Centâ€™s ascended to another stratosphere of pop culture. Similarly, his audience has also evolved and matured within the same time frame. The Final Lap tour isnâ€™t necessarily marketed as a 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop event but it certainly emphasizes the contributions of two East Coast legends with the support of one of R&Bâ€™s finest talents.Â