I wrote this a while back, while I was still living in Washington. This song came on in a friend’s car the other night, reminding me. (Warning: crude lyrics!)
I stayed in the car tonight listening to 50 Cent. I’ve heard ”In da Club” many, probably over a hundred, times. But I was stuck in my seat, paralyzed by the insistently propulsive beat of this unabashed panegyric to capitalism’s excesses. On the one hand is the music’s glorification of an unthinkingly greedy and exploitative lifestyle. On the other is the music’s supple insidious swagger, appealing to the remorseless, preening predator in us all. The intoxicating promise of hedonism with no consequences, of youth and opulence unimpeded by structural oppression, disease, and even the emotional entanglement of love. Popping bub, the ultimate Euro status symbol, spending money like it’s nothing and sneering back at those in the hood who resent your success. In a way, the commentary provided by 50 Cent and others who so conspicuously celebrate extreme consumption (or gang violence, pimping, etc.) as a marker of the good life is comic and beautiful. Artists, even purveyors of the most commercial art (which is sometimes extremely compelling) express the cultural id that unapologetically embraces nihilistic consumption.