By now I’m sure all of you have heard about 50 Cent’s statement that if his 9/11 release doesn’t outsell Kanye’s, he will never release another solo album. The only reason this got any press is because . . .
Well, I’m not sure why. I’m pretty sure 50 Cent has always and substantially outsold Kanye—probably moving at least double the amount of units. 50’s statement is just like saying that if the war in Iraq is over by 9/11 he’ll retire. I mean, sure, there’s a chance but come on. But what’s really surprised me is the amount Fiddy hatred I’ve been reading about, guys promising to buy two copies of Kanye just to force a semi-retirement and all. To those folks, I first must say, “You do realize that 50 never said he’d get out of music—he said he’d stop releasing solo albums. That means we could expect twice as many G-Unit albums. Does anyone really want that?
“Get Rich or Die Tryin” was a masterpiece of G-Funk/California sound. It didn’t change anything, really, but to me it was the high-water-mark of commercialized gangsta rap. The genre never got better after that, and that record epitomize everything that came before. It wasn’t better than St8 Outta Compton; Doggystyle; Chronic (or even Chronic 2.0), but the bangers on that record were omnipresent and, admit it, were true to the game.
“College Dropout” is a straight Chi-Town record. It’s not gangsta and although it’s got a little bling, it also attempted to elevate the genre and speak to middle class America. It had multiple possible audiences and showed complexity where 50 showed caricature. Given a choice between the two, mass audiences generally prefer stereotypes. That’s what “mass” means: Everyone can understand it because we all know exactly what to expect. There’s nothing wrong with mass appeal, but it’s hardly a boast to say, “I can make an album that sounds like all my other albums and paints pictures that don’t make you squint or think, and it will sell better than another guy who markets the unexpected.”
That said, though, Kanye’s “Late Registration” fell far short of his first and the mixtapes and GAP ads floating around don’t give me hope for his upcoming release. The aware,
not-proud-to-have-been-a-drugdealer crowd has many more voices now: They’ve rediscovered Kanye, there’s Lupe, and Kanye has marketed his sound to so many people for singles and the like. He may find himself irrelevant.
Just like 50.
So maybe he can outsell him?
Go / All You Deliver vs. Common, Kanye West and John Mayer (Dert)
I Met Oprah-Kanye West
Chase You Outta Here-50 Cent
Dreams of Fucking Lil’ Kim-Kanye West
Not Rich, Still Tryin’-50 Cent