Album: 50 Cent

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The Independent Culture

It was, I believe, the cultural commentator Hannah Arendt who coined the term "the banality of evil". She was referring to the shocking ordinariness of Nazi torturers, whose catalogues of real-life horror dwarf even the most excessive boasts of criminal nastiness claimed by gangsta rappers. Yet there is a sense in which the phrase can be applied to such as 50 Cent - and more generally to an American entertainment industry that seems increasingly reliant on murder for its fictions. According to the whizz-bang imperatives of the culture, 50 Cent's violent tales from the edge should be exciting, full of thrills and the frisson of proximity to death. But the reality is that you would have to search long and hard to find a more boring, tedious - and yes, banal - experience than The Massacre, with its tableaux of routine criminality trotted out without even the dimmest five-watt glimmer of illumination, by surely the dullest rapper ever to become a millionaire. Ten or 15 years ago, gangsta rap was a shocking incursion into pop, with distinctive vocal stylists such as Ice Cube and Ice-T giving articulate voice to deep-seated rage, or offering ironically moralistic hustler stories with stings in their tails. This, by contrast, is just wallpaper: amoral fantasies for adolescent wannabes.