Ever since G-Unit announced their resurrection at the Summer Jam festival last June, the hip-hop world went berserk. Since G-Unit’s formation back in 2000 with 50-cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck, the group have made waves in the rap industry as well as with their tumultuous relationship. But now it looks like they’ve put the past behind them and even recruited rapper Kidd Kidd, in the hopes of creating some quality street music. Proving that it’s all about the music, The Beauty of Independence pretty much celebrates that concept; with no fancy promo, their latest EP dropped – quite out of the blue – on iTunes. And we can only assume that it’s to hold fans off for something even bigger down the track.
The Beauty of Independence is all about making music that sounds good to them; there’s no need to please fire-breathing record labels or the hard-pressed public. That’s probably why the production is nothing fancy – it’s a standard R&B synth beat that doesn’t overshadow the gem of rap verses. The EP’s opener Watch Me basically sets the theme for the rest of the tracks: hard hitting street music delivered in the grittiest way. It’s all big egos and attitudes, with each rapper basically trying to outdo the other on the fame and money scale. It’s nothing we haven’t heard already – yes, we’re all aware that you can keep the drinks flowing and the girls coming, but is that all there is to the flashy life of a hardcore thug?
Clearly, yes. I Don’t F*ck With You sums up the violence of thug life quite well. It’s a mid-tempo track with a sombre brass loop that’s reminiscent of a funeral march. If intimidating is what they’re aiming for, then they’ve certainly achieved it – with lyrics like ‘I got a reputation for police chasin’, you a bitch, I let it bang’, you’d be hard-pressed if you f*ck with any of them, ever. Likewise, Dead a P*ssy N*gga is pretty much the no-holds-barred sequel, characterised by the sounds of policemen and loading guns. To top it all off there’s Digital Scale, a chilled out number backed by an electric guitar. Just as well, because the track is about doing drugs and dealing drugs. None of the hooks are particularly catchy, save for Watch Me. But then again these aren’t your typical mainstream raps – this is the nitty gritty real deal. There’s no need to please the masses when you’re making music for your own benefit. Each rapper brings their A-game and they all share the role of the main attraction – no matter how hard they try, no one really outshines the other because they’re in sync with their skill and dynamic.
Perhaps the cream of the crop here is Changes, a reflective piano track with the hard beat of a drum kit. We’re not talkin’ girls, guns or money anymore. G-Unit contemplate the consequences of fame; in particular, the betrayals that are rife in the industry. Fifty’s vocals are his usual rough self, further incorporating that personal element in the track. Each rapper is in-depth and emotive, reminding us at the end of the day that with fame, comes a price – but for the love of what they do, the price is worth it.
R&B fans will be pleased with this EP, just as pleased as they were to hear about G-Unit’s reunion. True to their style, they come back guns-a-blazing (literally) with a tough-as-nails approach – a sound that fans will dig for sure.