Words By TSS Crew's Chris Smith

50 Cent, I'm here to tell you one thing and one thing only...

I understand.

Better than you would imagine.

I understand that you're at a crossroads right now. And how did I come to this conclusion you may ask? No, I don't subscribe to any fly by night psychic hotline. The answers can all be found in the proposed cover photo for your new album, Curtis.

Now I'm not going to get disrespectful by sarcastically calling you out by your government repeatedly. But seeing this photo makes me ask some questions that have been rolling about in my head for a minute. The first one being, why would you choose to strike a pose that is nearly identical to Ja Rule's own thuggish anguished style? The very same one you clowned him for as you carved out your empire in hip-hop's landscape? Is it because you feel trapped by the public's perception of you as a merciless tatted up thug with little to no remorse but a heap of ruthless ambition? You said it best, "Can't believe Reebok did a deal with a psycho"...maybe you're not too comfortable with that anymore. Or are you thinking back on the beef with Chaz and BlackHand Entertainment that has you looking over your shoulder?

Maybe you're trying to make sense of the fact that G-Unit may be on the decline. Or the fact that aside from Young Buck, you have no one else to heavily bank on outside of yourself to net sales for the crew even though your partner(some would say glorified weed carrier)has 'bank' as a part of his handle. Perhaps you're upset that you now realize that you have an official'smart dumb negro' in your camp who affirms his gangster status by slapping teenagers. All while claiming to be an age he hadn't seen since the Jackson's 'Victory' tour. Or are you preparing yourself for the day when Young Buck asserts himself finally and strikes out on his own, removing a notable part of your fanbase?

But I could be wrong 50.

Maybe all this cover photo suggests is an opportunity to look past the swagger and the resigned violence that has filled your life. To look past all of the diamonds, dollar bills and street corner decadence. A chance to really see what made Curtis Jackson into 50 Cent. And to see how the possibility of failure really affects you. I mean, your first single is poppin' like others before it. And you did say yourself that in order to do a scene for your (partly) autobiographical movie, "Get Rich or Die Trying", you had to picture yourself failing to tear up. Maybe that's all your album cover reveals.

That and a bad choice of wrist jewelry.


Smoking Sessions With Skillz. "The Art Of Persuasion" With Girl Talk. A couple of contests. Make it rain or "Rain, Rain, Go Away...". Album reviews, other ramblings...and, of course, a healthy dose of new music.

Business as usual. All this week @ The Smoking Section.