It's near impossible to ignore all the drama that colored the release of Thoughts of a Predicate Felon. Tony Yayo, the mythical fourth member of G-Unit, was locked up during his crew's rise to supreme power, big boss Eminem wore a "Free Yayo" shirt to the Grammys, and just when everyone throws on their "Yayo's Home" shirt, the man lands himself lands another jail sentence within 12 hours of getting out, because of a forged passport he handed to a parole officer. Course, everything associated with 50 Cent and crew has such hype leading up to it that you'd think the hood closes shop for a day to honor the release date, but the events in the weeks right before this drop date tell a different story. The album was leaked across the Internet like a dam busted, and nobody at the label seemed to mind and didn't bother to push the release date up. Plus, the guy finally gets his shot and lands the same release week as Time cover boy Kanye West's sophomore debut. All this hype and then all eyes on Kanye? It's actually crazy like a fox because Yayo's album is unable to support the big build-up, so let Kanye draw the five-star reviews while Internet downloaders sing the praises of the album's excellent highlights to their homies. Yayo's craftier and smarter than expected considering the thug myth built around him. He handles hooky party numbers like "So Seductive" extremely well, he drops the occasional stinger that draws a "damn!" and even on the lukewarm bedroom number "Curious" with Joe, he saves face with a decent flow over the sickeningly slick production. He has the fiercest growl and bite in the G-Unit family, but he's also a loose canon who delivers a clumsy dis at Fat Joe during the otherwise hot "Tattle Teller" and delivers a euphemism for the female anatomy that would make R. Kelly embarrassed on the horribly titled "Project Princess." Maybe 50 handled Yayo with too much reverence and not enough grooming, but if Predicate Felon only offers a few tracks of interest to the general hip-hopper, it offers a bit more to the loyal G-Unit soldier. He bleeds hood from his veins and while Young Buck and Lloyd Banks benefited greatly from the polish, Yayo is rightfully served some of the toughest bangers and darkest cuts from the crew. Add another exciting production from Eminem ("Drama Setter") and a whimsical highlight in the fourth quarter ("Dear Suzie"), and you've got an album worth every G-Unit fan's attention. If he held back any longer the myth was going to blow up in his face. Sneaking an uneven but occasionally thrilling hood album out under Kanye's shadow is another stroke of brilliance from 50's marketing department and excellent way to transition Yayo from monolithic myth to gutsy second-line soldier.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Spider Loc
feat: 50 Cent
feat: Jagged Edge