More than a few eyebrows raised back in May when 50 Cent announced a world tour dubbed The Final Lap, which filled St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center Friday.
While the man born Curtis James Jackson III hasn’t confirmed it’s his farewell tour, many wondered if it wasn’t more of a hello tour. His 2003 debut album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” and its monster single “In da Club” made 50 an instant star. But 50 turned out to be a star that burned hot and fast. His scored his final major hit with 2007’s “Ayo Technology,” which showed up midway through his set, and hasn’t released a new album since 2014’s flop “Animal Ambition.”
As his musical career faded, 50’s business instincts kicked in and it turns out he’s pretty good at the whole entrepreneur thing. He’s made millions through a series of endorsements and collaborations in film, apparel, liquor, technology and publishing. His highest-profile project, the Starz crime drama “Power” he produces with creator Courtney A. Kemp, has spawned its own “Yellowstone”-like series of successful sequels.
So it’s entirely possible plenty of the more than 15,000 in attendance were indeed seeing 50 for the first time. He hasn’t played a local arena in 20 years, and that was at Target Center in front of an audience about half the size. Whether or not they were 50 Cent newbies, the crowd got one heck of a show.
After opening sets from his longtime collaborator Jeremih and his pal Busta Rhymes, 50 emerged from beneath the stage accompanied by fireworks and belching clouds of smoke. He performed in front of an impressive video wall that projected a mix of various cityscapes, live video and more abstract imagery. He also employed a small army of dancers able to pull off both sultry and acrobatic moves. Thankfully, he skipped the endless simulated gunfire that used to mar his shows back in the day, but he still brought the heat through frequent walls of flame that shot across the front of the main stage.
Poised, professional and very much in control, 50 kept things going at a rapid pace, too, banging out hit after hit while flashing a wide smile. It was a good 25 minutes and three outfit changes into his 90-minute performance when he stopped for his first break. He briefly greeted the crowd and then jumped right back in with 2004’s “Disco Inferno.” (With at least eight different looks, 50 gave Cher a run for her money when it came to stage fashion.)
All in all, 50 Cent delivered an engaging, nostalgic evening of his hits. If this is it for his music career, he’s going out with a bang for sure.