Back in 2007, 50 Cent and Kanye West went record-to-record in a sales battle that would end up changing hip-hop and the perception of both rappers forever, and a never-before-seen video shows it should have ended 50 Cent’s career.
50 and Kanye were both confident they would outsell the other. Kanye showed this confidence by delaying the release of his album ‘Graduation’ until September 11th, the same day 50’s ‘Curtis’ was set to drop.
In a freshly released, never-before-seen video from SOHH, 50 was so confident he’d outsell Kanye that he bet his whole career on it.
“If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11th, I’ll no longer write music. I’ll write music and work with my other artists but I won’t put out any more solo albums,” he said in plain English, directly into the camera.
In the first week, ‘Graduation’ would go on to sell 957,000 copies, catapulting Kanye into an established star, credited with revolutionising the genre, while ‘Curtis’ would go on to sell 691,000 copies, signalling the end of 50’s run at the top of the game.
Noah Callahan-Bever, the former editor-in-chief at Complex said from 2003 - 2005, 50 was like “Drake x 10. Actually, no. Think Drake^10 … 50 Cent was bigger than the next five rappers combined. Maybe the next 10,” which proves just how historic Kanye’s out selling of 50 was.
50, of course, did not retire. He released two more solo albums after ‘Curtis’: ‘Before I Self Destruct’ in 2009, and ‘Animal Ambition’ in 2014. He has also come out and said that the battle was never a real beef, telling XXL that “it was just great marketing.”
Kanye became one of, if not the, most famous artists in the world in the 15 years since the battle. His public reputation has had higher highs and lower lows than pretty much any other artist I can think of, but, the numbers don’t lie, he is one of the most successful artists of our generation.