Throwback Thursday: The Rise of G-Unit

Break out your spinner chains and Brazilian tank tops, it's time to discuss G-Unit...

“The rap game is fake like WWE” is as cliché as a statement can possibly be, even if true. Aside from that, though, hip-hop and professional wrestling share more than a few similarities. The rise of certain rappers can be compared to wrestlers, rap beefs often stem from storylines that the audiences can trace and the career of an artist can meet its demise at any particular moment thanks to plenty of factors. There is no better example than the once-famed G-Unit, a rap group that is comparable to a mixture of WCW’s New World Order and WWE’s Evolution.

Originally formed as a trio consisting of only 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, G-Unit would go on to include Young Buck and The Game in the group’s earlier years. Following the success of 50 Cent’s commercial debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 was granted his own record label which is what the group would use to release their first album as a collective, Beg for Mercy. Due to Tony Yayo serving a prison sentence in the midst of the recording process for the album, he only appears on two tracks which were pre-recorded. The Game joined the group after the album’s recording sessions, preventing him from appearing on the album, but he does make cameos in several videos for the singles.

Beg for Mercy was a commercial success, in turn becoming a launching platform for the group’s solo debut albums, save for 50 Cent. All four artists’ albums charted in the top three on the Billboard 200, with Lloyd Banks’ The Hunger for More and The Game’s The Documentary both debuting at number one. The Documentary became the driving force that revived West Coast hip-hop and propelled The Game’s name into the “best rapper” discussion. G-Unit was officially the genre’s powerhouse, effectively putting the likes of Roc-A-Fella Records on the sideline (with the exception of a college dropout from Chicago).

G-Unit ran rampant among the industry for years, bullying artists like Ja Rule and Fat Joe in the same manner NWO did the remainder of the WCW roster during the late 90’s. Murder Inc. Records’ members would be hilariously taunted once 50 Cent emerged and G-Unit had no intention to ceasefire. Beg for Mercy housed the infamous “I Smell Pussy” track that would be chanted at concerts for years to come which name-drops Irv Gotti, Ja Rule, Black Child and Cadillac Tah. Murder Inc.’s responses fell upon deaf ears; tactics such as revealing 50 Cent’s order of protection (although it wasn’t made on his behalf) harmed G-Unit none, causing the feud to be extremely one-sided.

G-Unit’s biggest problems, though, eventually stemmed from the inside. Tension began to grow between 50 Cent and The Game originally deriving from 50 Cent’s The Massacre being pushed back to better accommodate The Game’s The Documentary. Their issues grew even more following the release of The Documentary; The Game refused to join in on G-Unit’s feuds with Nas, Jadakiss and Fat Joe causing 50 to label him as “disloyal,” prompting a removal of the West Coast rapper from G-Unit (comparable to Triple H’s thumbs down to Randy Orton). G-Unit may have breezed through their former feuds unscathed, but their beef with The Game caused more problems than they could’ve ever imagined.

Unfortunately for the members of G-Unit, the beef spawned The Game’s fifteen-minute diss track, “300 Bars and Runnin’.” Obviously too long to receive airplay, The Game treated avid underground music listeners to a comedy-filled, bar-infested spectacle aimed at not only G-Unit, but even Memphis Bleek and more. From then on, 50 Cent would engage in rap tussles with artists that he couldn’t simply treat as pushovers such as Cam’ron and Rick Ross. Add in the fact that every album released after each member’s debut failed to live up to the previous expectations as well as internal disputes and G-Unit, as a whole, was on a sharp decline.

G-Unit’s certainly wasn’t as lyrically gifted as Wu-Tang or as influential as Dipset, but they were commercially successful, their sole purpose. Listeners could always sense in G-Unit’s braggadocious rhymes that they didn’t truly have the intention of becoming the “best” rap group as opposed to becoming one of the wealthiest and that’s what was accomplished. G-Unit would reform in 2014, releasing several EPs and mixtapes which all received positive reviews. Former Young Money member, Kidd Kidd, has since joined them, becoming a welcomed addition to the surprise of many. Will G-Unit’s new music reach the heights of the music they released during their prime? Probably not, but I’m sure they’ll make a lot of money from it which is their only concern.

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