First, Kanye West makes a surprise appearance at 2 Chainz' show. Then Lil Wayne and his Cash Money brethren take over South by Southwest. And last night at Austin Music Hall, 50 Cent saved hip hop's biggest star for himself, bringing out special guest Eminem to help perform his 2003 debut album Get Rich or Die Trying for the first time in its entirety.
The 50-minute set, broadcast live on Fuse, featured a 7-piece live band and hypeman Tony Yayo in tow. Clad in a camouflague bulletproof vest and Yankees cap, the rapper stayed on theme, opening with Trying opener "What Up Gangsta" before bringing out Em for "Patiently Waiting." Dude doesn't exactly saturate himself with live guest spots, so when we found out about Em's impending appearance last week, we had to duct tape our mouths to keep from telling everyone we knew.
50 mostly let his verses speak for themselves, keeping crowd talk to a minimum. "Y'all act like y'all just learning this s**t," said 50 to the 2,000-person crowd. "The album sold 13 million records. That ain't hot? Damn. I wanted to sell like 2 million. That s**t did 13. The money came so fast, I couldn't f**k it up."
Tracks like "In Da Club" and "P.I.M.P." retained their club-friendly vibe, but were bolstered by extended jams from the live band, which included three synths. Besides Em, 50 brought out G-Unit's first female rapper Precious Paris and R&B singer Governor, the latter handling the late Nate Dogg's role on "21 Questions."
But it was Em's verses that got the crowd most amped, as the rapper returned at the end of the night to fire off verses of "Love Me," "'Till I Collapse" and "Crack a Bottle" before the duo left the stage.
While the crowd, which included Theophilus London and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, was energized for 50's biggest hits, the industry-heavy audience's general enthusiasm level was more laid back. "Y'all just gonna sit there and look at me, right?" asked 50. "I guess it's not what have I done, it's what have you done for me lately." Associated Press reported the crowd reaction as "lackluster" and Rap-Up.com noted that the general vibe was "restrained."
But for their part, fans watching from home blew up Twitter. Yeah, a surprise appearance by Eminem will do that. The show had three different terms trending nationally: GRODT, Get Rich or Die Trying, and #shadyonfuse.
50's last words before his final exit: "I wanna stay."
50 Cent & Eminem - "Patiently Waiting" at SXSW