For-the-ladies jams are few and far between on Before I Self Destruct, 50 Cent's fourth album. As a cavalcade of pre-release mixtapes suggested, Destruct is an unabashedly militant for-the-streets disc; this is 50 in druglord/CEO mode, issuing orders and Black Card-holder's brags in an increasingly gravel-pit bark over alternately sumptuous and head-ringing (if not quite "In Da Club" vintage) bangers for almost an hour.
It all adds up to a thoroughly adequate result that's nonetheless enjoyable if you consider that Destruct is little more than a loss-leader cog in a painfully cynical merchandizing campaign that shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. So the moments to treasure are minor: "Stretch" reveals 50's Fantastic Four and Plastic Man geekery; R. Kelly all but admits unsmilingly to fecal obsession on the hook to "Could've Been You"; "Gangsta's Delight" flips the Sugarhill Gang classic "Rapper's Delight"; Eminem delivers a gruesome Octomom riff on "Psycho"; and 50 cheekily re-christens himself as "Curt Cocaine." Buy the book, wear the cologne, gulp the sugar water and blast the album. — Ray Cummings