When people describe New York's Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, as a rapper, that's kind of understating the point a little. Of course he is - on the back of Eminem's endorsement and the worldwide success of his albums The Massacre and Get Rich Or Die Tryin' he's one of the most successful this decade - but that doesn't take into account every other franchise connected to his name.
If anyone was in any doubt about which other pies his fingers lie in, the half-hour prior to his taking the stage was an education. Like a trip to a multiplex cinema, the screens on either side of the stage projected adverts for 50 Cent: The Movie, 50 Cent: The Game and 50 Cent: the parade of artists launching careers as part of his G-Unit ensemble. Gangsta chic might be his stock in trade, but there are plenty of legitimate ways for your average hardcore rapper to earn his bling.
Of course, the fact that 50, in the eyes of the public at least, seems to live his life like a Hollywood summer blockbuster (his career highs/lows include being shot, inspiring a shoot-out between his associates and those of his former protégé The Game outside a New York radio station, and being investigated by the FBI) creates no small amount of spectacle for his obviously young and impressionable fans to get excited by. In this respect, it must be said, his big budget stage show is perfectly pitched for anyone with a love for him and his music.
With a collection of self-aggrandising news reports judiciously airing his career highlights on the twin screens (in short: million-sales, money and bullets) the veil covering the stage drops away to reveal a HR Giger-esque backdrop of hissing pipes and walkways, pyrotechnics popping and flamethrowers hissing amidst it all. Musically, no more than a dull bass thud from the decks of a G-Unit affiliate, Tony Yayo, accompanies the appearance and subsequent utterings of 50 and cohorts - but it's mere window-dressings alongside all the rest of this combustible spectacle.
In fact, to say that 50 is the real star of the show is to overstate facts a little. Alongside the array of friends, acquaintances and G-Unit members clustering on stage throughout (including rappers Young Buck, Mase and Lloyd Banks, duo Mobb Deep and token female singer Olivia) the only thing that distinguishes him is the sly smile whenever the camera gaze alights on his face. As if to remind all pretenders that he is, indeed, the boss.
Well, there's that and a customarily riotous array of costumes. Initially a whopping silver medallion and his muscled chest make do, before the unleashing of a truly audacious and appropriate white suit during P.I.M.P. In keeping with his upbringing on the mean streets of New York, 50 can get by with an image that commands respect in lieu of actually having anything of note to say.
Of course, songs like the more famed "Candy Shop" and the highly successful "In Da Club" elicit communal and frenzied recognition from the crowd, but the markedly similar and comparatively unknown "Disco Inferno" and "Lay You Down" don't add to a repertoire already bogged down in tasteless machismo and sexism. Still, judging by the ill-fitting swagger emanating from many of his teenage fans on the way out, this 90-minute advert for one man and his wares had them thoroughly sold.Reuse content