Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Book Review: "The 50th Law" by 50 Cent and Robert Greene

The 50th LawThe 50th Law by 50 Cent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

i don't like 50 cent. i never have and i probably never will, in spite of the way he's recently cleaned up his image and repackaged himself to mainstream/middle (white) america, readying all of us for his next incarnation. he's not stupid. he knows that his gangsta rap moment has played itself out and it's time to move onto the next -- probably acting (he's getting his tatoos removed for this purpose) and producing. there's an astonishing amount of money in film/tv, no matter which side of the camera you're on. truthfully, he's become more of a businessman and haberdasher, like most of his ilk who are successful -- with a line of clothing, vitamin water and whatever else makes him more money, all the while maintaining a menacing dangerous image to validate his brand.

and therein lies the problem.

it started out with its heart in the right place, as a way to report what the black urban underclass was experiencing, something that the rest of america was blissfully unaware of. but eventually, when hip/hop and rap saw the money, it branded and sold itself to the highest bidder in the name of multiculturalism and opportunity. now it's pretty much a black-faced caricature of itself. the thug posturing and posing that's supposed to represent all black american men of a certain age. the idea that bitch=(black) women. the casual/liberal use of the "n" word. and many more things that have fostered a climate in our culture that's perpetuated almost as many stereotypes about black people to the world as stepin fetchit, arguably.  all for the sake of money, material things, and beef/"reputation" (whatever that is).

i hope it was worth it.

so i was thinking all of these things and more as i read this book. i read it because a friend suggested it and admittedly, i am a huge fan of Robert Greene. i've read pretty much all of his books and i think he gives an interesting and thought-provoking take on media, power and societial dynamics. this book is basically mr. greene taking on the idea of fear, the 50th law, and using 50 cent's life story and personal philosophy to augment and illustrate his intent. mr. greene didn't take this lightly. he followed 50 cent for years and was a fly on the wall in his life in and out of boardrooms, heady confrontations and power moves. he did his homework, and it shows.

it's a provocative premise. curtis "50 cent" jackson is probably the only gangsta rapper out here that was actually a gangster in real life and not a wangsta, someone that cultivated that image to make money. rick ross (the boss), for example, was a corrections officer in florida for years -- and in spite of him insisting that it's not true, there are pictures and paperwork to prove it.

we've all heard tell of what it takes to be a gangster. why not hear it from the source?

this is what makes the book a fascinating read. it delves into the details of mr. jackson's life as a drug dealer in queens and his rise as a gangsta rapper to pull up details that augment this idea: all of us have the capacity to live a fearless life, and to live life to the fullest, and to live to the fullest of our potential, we must find a way to eliminate that fear by any means necessary.

apparently, curtis has come a long way. it's no surprise that what he has observed by working for gangsters initially and usurping them to create his own power base has come in handy when doing business in the corporate world and the entertainment industry. what i find interesting -- and yes, hilarious -- is the way mr. jackson will drag any rapper (rick ross), any dalliance (vivica fox), any former friendship ( floyd mayweather) through the media muck with unbridled glee, ridiculing and humiliating them all the way. yet he has carefully refrained from even so much as mentioning his brief relationship with ms. chelsea handler. ironically, he has done this out of fear, i imagine. at least that's what the look on his face says whenever her name is mentioned. ms. handler takes no prisoners.

i don't want to get into too much detail. it's a very juicy read and in the end it didn't tell me anything that i didn't already know about fear and how it can undo you. but i must admit, mr. greene found a very interesting way to tell it.

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