This was the album that destroyed G-Unit.

There’s the question of what would have been. I don’t know if you remember how big G-Unit was. They came to prominence around the time I got my first CD player, started illegally downloading my first MP3’s, and I thought the Unit was the end all be all. No seriously, I had no concept of a movement so big, so powerful, and with such a tight grip on pop culture ever ending. In just two years 50 Cent released two of the best selling albums of the genre, his group released a platinum selling album, and then each member of that group did the same. In my early teens I was a fanatic. So you can only imagine what it felt like to learn the latest guy from their fold was from the West Coast.

I was all wrapped up in the mythology at the time. I have vivid memories of some of my first prominent childhood summers being dominated by the sounds of The Chronic 2001. Dr. Dre was an icon and I knew it. Rap was still a thing that both my mom despised and I began to obsess over behind closed doors, sparked by such things as those keys on Still D.R.E.. It was infectious and I was the infected. 2005 was a year that still felt like an open wound inherited from the era prior; the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls still leaving fans hungry for characters of that magnitude. Jay-Z,a rapper to take up that mantle, was quote-unquote retired and some new major players started to step to the fold with this new empty landscape. Major players that went on to become today’s legends. Hindsight being 20/20, it was a very exciting time. And in 2005 how exciting was it to learn that Dr. Dre had a new protégé.

I don’t think his debut album means to you quite like it means to me. I got in trouble with my mom and wasn’t allowed to leave my room. I wasn’t allowed to do anything but read and listen to the radio. And when I turned on the radio there wasn’t but two songs on repeat all day every day: one of them being How We Do. Do you remember how much it slapped when it first hit? I didn’t know who the man was at that time. I heard Fif on it, still deep in his prime as a hitmaker and what was clearly Dre’s signature production style. I was hooked. But who was the other guy? I think I knew every word to the song by the time the video dropped and when it did I felt what I described before. G-Unit was unstoppable. G-Unit was forever. Shortly after, the video for Hate It Or Love It was released and I was thoroughly convinced I was witnessing the birth of something big. This tag team duo, 50 Cent and The Game clearly had all the chemistry in the world to go from this undeniable smash hit to this new hit that was much more personal, much more touching, and much more triumphant. This was different than the rollouts for any of the other members. This was still the era of the super-thug. And this was still the era of Hip Hop’s peak assembly-line commercialization. And here was this new act, backed by the machine, telling an honest story.

I don’t know if you felt like I felt when you pressed play.  This was still the era in the wake of Illmatic wherein rappers attempted to assemble The Avengers of hot producers at the time. And this one was quite an attempt. We’re talking about Dr Dre, Scott Storch, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Timbaland, Eminem, Havoc, Hi-Tek, and Buckwild among others; all with their own hefty contributions to Hip Hop history prior to this. And this was the last time we saw Dre lace a newcomer with so much of his name in the production credits for almost 15 years. Game and 50 were a dynamic duo like none other in the Unit. Maybe it was the pure ego sparked from this project, but something caused a legendary riff that ultimately led to the destruction of G-unit. This was the album that did it.

We never really think about this album in that lens. It was the last instance of pure unity among the group. It was the absolute peak of an era. After this, Game had a vendetta to put 50 in his place and 50, his boss, absolutely reciprocated that energy. Diss songs exchanged, Game was dropped from his label and went on to make an album without the titans that introduced him. And with him went unity and peace among that group that would slowly crumble the next few years into what we know now.

What a project. What a combination of talent. What a moment. What could have been, really.

Happy anniversary to The Documentary!

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