On the opening cut from Animal Ambition, 50 Cent is invigorated and fresh, rapping over funk-infused Frank Dukes production that sounds like the laid-back score to a blaxploitation movie.
But that fire doesn't last long. Limp tracks like Twisted and Trey Songz-assisted Smoke - the album's two most craven attempts at radio play - would have sounded outdated five years ago. On Every Time I Come Around, 50's outshined by crew member Kidd Kidd.
The album has a few bright spots: on Irregular Heartbeat, the emcee snarls the stone-faced threats that made him an irresistible menace in the early aughts.
But it's not enough to save an album that's bogged down by a rapper - and production - stuck in the middle of the last decade.
Top track: Hold On