It was some of the best publicity hip-hop had gotten in years. Kanye West’s ego faced-off against 50 Cent’s swagger. Basically, 50 Cent’s future career was in the hands of the public.
Both Kanye West’s Graduation and 50 Cent’s Curtis were released on Sept. 11, and 50 Cent claimed he was going to outsell Kanye West in the first week or he was going to stop his solo career. Ruckus had a page for people to sound off on their chosen winner. Reuters kept people up-to-date with progressive sales. Rolling Stone featured a cover with the rappers facing off.
It left people wondering: Would Kanye West be shown-up? Or would 50 Cent be forced into early retirement?
In all fairness, it’s not an easy competition to judge. 50 Cent has the heavier beats, and rawer lyrics. Kanye West has the dance music with fun lyrics.
According to Billboard’s Top 100 Singles, Kanye West was the clear winner. “Stronger” peaked at number two and has been on the chart for seven weeks. 50 Cent’s single, “Ayo Technology,” which collaborates with modern-day mastermind duo, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, peaked at number 18 and has been on the chart for five weeks.
50 Cent’s over-exaggerated swagger gets the best of him in “I’ll Still Kill” where he claims, “Ain’t nothin’ changed, still holla at my homies/And when I hit the block I still, will kill!” It just sounds like another rapper bragging about his street cred.
Amidst the testosterone is the oddest match of talents. Robin Thicke crooning, “And baby I know that money ain’t ev-ery-thing” in the same song as 50 Cent rapping, “But I call a square a square and a circle a circle/So if you act like a b—-, I’ll call you a b—-” is odd and unsettling.
Kanye West does the typical posturing in “Champion” when he sings, “You don’t see just how fly my style is?” and goes on about how he realizes he’s the champion. It’s tempered when he says he just wanted better for his kids and for him “givin’ up’s way harder than tryin.’”
One of the highlights on Graduation is “Homecoming,” which features Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay. Martin makes his singing match the rhythm of the piano (an excellent choice to match his falsetto).
Kanye West’s song “Barry Bonds” is the weakest with an awkward beat and a poor chorus. His strongest tracks are “Homecoming” and “Stronger.”
50 Cent’s weakest songs, “Man Down” and “I Get Money,” blend into the songs around them as well as those written by dozens of rappers in the past. The strongest song is “All of Me,” but Mary J. Blige steals the show.
The vote goes to Kanye West’s, which, according to Nielson Soundscan, sold 957,000 copies, compared to Curtis, which sold 691,000.
Looks like Curtis Jackson will be retiring after only seven years in the business.