“If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11 ? I won’t put out anymore solo albums.”
These were the words said by multi-platinum selling rap artist 50 Cent in an interview posted on the hip-hop Web site www.SOHH.com.
Kanye West responded to 50 Cent’s comments when he said, “I really like 50. I don’t want him to retire once my album sells the most.” And thus began the highly publicized competition between the two artists.
These words have the entire hip-hop community talking, taking sides and anticipating Tuesday, Sept. 11, when 50 Cent’s third album “Curtis” and six-time Grammy Award-winning rapper and producer Kanye West’s third album “Graduation” hits stores.
Fans of the two rappers are making plans to buy multiple albums to ensure that their favorite rapper doesn’t retire. But what most of these people don’t realize is that this isn’t a battle between two rappers, but an ingeniously developed publicity stunt to promote both albums and ensure sky-high sales for both multimillionaire men.
This isn’t the first time 50 Cent has pulled this stunt. On his 2003 debut album, “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” which was the No. 1 selling album of that year, 50 Cent was feuding with fellow New York rapper Ja-Rule, and rappers Fat Joe and The Game felt 50’s wrath on his sophomore album.
All too often, capitalist schemes trick hip-hop fans into living in an alternate reality, believing that everything they see on television or hear on the radio is applicable to real life.
Battling is a key component of rap. When two rappers come up with rhymes and punch lines about one another on the spot, exchanging insults with clever wording and use of literary elements, it’s understood that these two rappers are not necessarily enemies, but participating in an art.
When it comes to main-stream rap artists who challenge one another, many fans don’t understand that it may not be a real feud instead of a plan to give rappers more exposure, build up anticipation and create in listeners a desire to buy albums.
Ironically or not, the two rappers are represented by record labels that are owned by the same music group. Kanye West is signed to Roc-A-Fella records, which stems from Def Jam, itself owned by Universal Music Group. While 50 Cent is signed to G-Unit, which came from Dre’s label, Aftermath Entertainment, which is a subsidiary of Interscope Records. Interscope is also owned by none other than Universal Music Group.
There’s nothing wrong with using publicity to sell an album. All kinds of entertainers hire publicists for this reason. Perhaps this is the push that hip-hop needs to help make the genre of music more recognized and accepted by a wider variety of people, to make the people feel like they play a part in it all and to make it fun again.
MSNBC’s music section reported that 50 Cent and Kanye West recently collaborated in the studio, but the song won’t be on either of their upcoming albums.
Even after 50 Cent’s previous comments, he later told MTV that he’ll not stop making solo albums if Kanye West sells more than him on Sept. 11.
Though it is perfectly fine to anticipate the announcing of which rap artist actually sells more albums, it’s important to be able to distinguish from reality and entertainment to make sure that you are spending your money because you want to buy the album, not because the entertainment industry has tricked you into doing so.
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