On September 11th, 2007 history was made as Kanye West managed to best 50 Cent in a space that 50 was seemingly in control of.
On this day, Kanye released his third album Graduation alongside 50’s Curtis, both albums created an insane level of hype due to the most profitable feud in hip-hop history.
We all remember the constant radio showdowns between Kanye and 50 fueled by Kanye pushing for the same release date as him. The idea evolved into what seemed like a presidential running as the streets immediately became divided.
Every conversation about the two albums was heated even though the actual music on both projects couldn’t really be compared to each other in any sense. Everyone loves a great underdog story and that was the exact appeal which propelled the feud into a monumental moment in music history.
50 was a juggernaut from 2003 to 2005, a modern day Goliath who was responsible for ending multiple careers and had the presence of a hip-hop veteran even though he was only on his third official release.
Along with 50’s gigantic presence in hip-hop he was also killing shit with his $400 million Vitamin Water deal and his G-Unit brand clothing solidifying the fact that he could not be fucked with.
In hindsight, championing Kanye as the underdog who could take down 50 was a pretty clear choice. Debuting just a year after the Get Rich or Die Trying artist with College Dropout, Kanye was making a legitimate name for himself.
Kanye’s story was humble in the beginning, the producer who no one wanted to hear rap managed to gather two platinum albums while being the essential backpacker. His music was soulful and impactful all the while being accessible.
Kanye was still not regarded as a superstar until 2007 when his entire image began to evolve. The stunner shades, insane BAPE fits, and braggadocious demeanor made it clear to see Kanye was ready to take the next step into stardom.
50 Cent and Kanye challenging each other to outdo the other’s record sales became an actual conversation. The younger crowd was ready for their champion to dethrone the aggressive rap 50 was making, while the older crowd pushed back for 50 to shut Kanye and his nontraditional hip-hop the fuck up.
This feud was purely for hip-hop and the fans, it wasn’t going to escalate like some rap beefs in the past.
Granted, if the beef wasn’t actually “real,” the numbers certainly would be and both artists had a lot to lose. Kanye, who couldn’t be fazed by 50’s tough demeanor, was representing an entire generation’s voice.
These albums being musical opposites made the feud that much better as it directly showed what the world decided it wanted to sound like and 2007 proved to be ready to accept Kanye’s more experimental and musical approach.
Kanye ended up raking in 960K units his first week to Fif’s 690K—his then-worst showing to date immediately solidified Kanye as the new champion of hip-hop and the leader of pushing the sound forward.
I know both of those numbers are damn near impossible in today’s climate but back then 690K was low for 50, showing just how impactful Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Stronger” singles proved to be.
This is a type of monumental event that can’t be replicated today. With no younger acts really caring about the older generation or dethroning some of the established artists and the internet putting music choice into the user’s hands, the sale beef between 50 and Ye will remain hip-hop history.
The win for Kanye not only solidified him as a juggernaut in the game, it was also the start of the end to traditional gangsta rap, instead paving the way for experimental music that challenged hip-hop listeners’ expectations.
At the end of the day, both artists sold a shit ton of albums and made millions but only one came out on top.
That crown has to be given to Mr.West for being the David to 50 Cent’s Goliath.