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"50 Cent: The Money and The Power"

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There was a time, not so long ago, when a 50 Cent TV show would be an instant smash. Unfortunately for 50 and MTV, that time was 2003. Since then the bullet-scarred rapper has gone from red-hot to medium-warm to lukewarm. 50's film career is a non-starter: Get Rich or Die Tryin' flopped so badly it became a punchline on The Sopranos, Home of the Brave was barely released and his performance in Righteous Kill was so wooden he infected co-stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro with Dutch Elm Disease.

Things haven't gone much better on the musical front. He lost his much-ballyhooed first week sales contest to Kanye West, his G-Unit Records has put out one flop after another and the last G-Unit posse album barely sold 100,000 copies in its first week. Where hip hop was once riveted by 50's beefs and rivalries, his latest feuds inspired little more than bored yawns.

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Reality shows are truly the last refuge of the scoundrel. So it's not a big surprise that 50 has lent his fading celebrity and rapidly evaporating street cred to a reality-show competition that follows shamelessly in the hacky footsteps of The Apprentice, Ultimate Hustler and I Want to Work For Diddy. The difference? There is no fucking difference. This is yesterday's news from last weeks' mega-star.

The premise should feel familiar to anyone who has flipped on a television set in the past five years. 50 and much-maligned flunky Tony Yayo pit two teams of shameless, attention-starved exhibitionists against each other for the chance to win a 100,000 dollar "investment" straight from 50 Cent. Wow, a whole hundred thousand dollars. That unimaginable windfall should be enough to finance a hot dog cart in Manhattan for three whole months. You truly are a great humanitarian, Mr. Cent.

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The show begins by teasingly referencing the fact that 50's most successful collaborators all hate him now. "You know the game. Young bucks tend to turn on you." 50 quips early on, a not-at-all hackneyed or awkward reference to his tiffs with The Game and Young Buck. Later he asks sidekick Yayo who he should "Terminate on Sight", which just so happens to be the title of G-Unit's terrible last album. It could be worse. He could ask Yayo, "Should I ask these P.I.M.Ps 21 Questions about who should end up in da club, collecting 100,000 for their piggy banks so they can go to the candy shop?

The contestants are the usual collection of skanks and hustlers, including the following reality-show friendly exhibitionists: *A woman who teasingly brags, "To work my way to the top I'll do anything: 3 of my past five exes have been managers of my mine. You've just got to know how to play the game" This is a diplomatic way of saying "Yes, I will suck cock for better hours and a dollar fifty raise." *A white guy from Pennsylvania with a headband and cornrows *A guy nicknamed "Cornbreadd with a double D" (the double D, needless to say, is for a double dose of this pimpin'" *Another woman who brags "Everything you can do to get money, I've done it" *A "wandering mystic" named Rebecca *A hick named Nathan from Calhoun Georgia who brags, "I've got more ladies than 50's got Mercedes. That's what I'm talking about, brutha!" Editors note: Nathan from Calhoun Georgia does not have more ladies than 50's got Mercedes. ,

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The money-grubbers are divided into two teams: Team Money and Team Power and given their first assignment: they're shackled together, chain gang style and ordered to run to Camp Curtis, a Brooklyn warehouse where they'll be kicking it while competing for 50's money.

The winning team gets to eat dinner with 50 Cent. The losers get to assemble the beds of the winning team. Even worse, the losing team is punished by being forced to spend time with Tony Yayo, a rapper who rumored to be over a hundred years old.

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Not surprisingly, the contestants are an obnoxious and self-aggrandizing lot. In the premiere a fight breaks out when a sassy black woman 50 compares to a "poor man's Li'l Kim", a comment even Yayo doesn't seem to find particularly funny, yells "Come do my nails, bitch!" to an Asian contestant. Yawn.

Late in the show 50 tries to set his sad little slot-plugger apart from the competition by sneering, "I'm not looking for an assistant. I'm not looking for a half-assed apprentice." No, you're looking for a feeble way to exploit your rapidly fading brand. "To be frank, I'm not impressed with what I've seen or heard from any of you guys." a disappointed 50 concedes late in the show. I couldn't agree more.

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Grade: D Stray Observations –What has two thumbs and will never watch 50 Cent: The Money and The Power ever again? This guy.

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