LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - G-Unit Records, the label run by rapper 50 Cent, endured some chinks in its armor last year.
Releases by Lloyd Banks (U.S. sales of 321,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan) and Mobb Deep (267,000) sold less than expected.
"As a crew we've seen record sales fall off," says Young Buck, the Nashville native born David Brown "But hip-hop sales overall have fallen. This just fuels my fire."
So much so that fans and label executives alike contend the 25-year-old will be the one to reignite the fire under the brand when his second album, "Buck the World" (G-Unit/Interscope), reaches stores March 27. His new single, "Get Buck," is currently No. 55 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Young Buck's first solo outing, 2004's "Straight Outta Cashville," has sold 1.1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A top G-Unit executive is targeting first-week sales of 300,000 units for "Buck the World."
Young Buck hopes to buck expectations with his versatility. "Slow Ya Roll," for instance, teams him with Los Angeles rock act Linkin Park. Addressing AIDS and other life situations, the rapper calls the song "the realest record I've ever done in my life. Every word here is true."
He takes the rock'n'roll-meets-hip-hop vibe further on "Lose My Mind," produced by Eminem. Then there's the moving "Buck the World" with Lyfe Jennings about child-custody issues.
Making the songs as "real life as possible" was Young Buck's goal. One song, however, may have been rooted in too much reality. Borne out of Young Buck's various problems (a 2004 Vibe Awards melee, an alleged altercation with Lil Jon's DJ Will, a recent arrest in Nashville), "F--- Tha Police" ultimately didn't make the cut, although Young Buck offered to clean up the lyrics after the label voiced concern.