Hip-hop's battle for sales supremacy may have a winner, with Kanye West's Graduation far outselling 50 Cent's Curtis in the four days after the discs hit stores on September 11th. Graduation sold 437,000 copies compared to 310,000 for Curtis in their first day, and several retailers reported West had pulled even farther ahead by the end of the week.
"Kanye is way ahead," says Andrew Gyger, senior music product manager for Virgin Megastores. "His appeal is broader and his single is way hotter than 50's."
The feud began when West decided to put out his album on the day of 50's scheduled release. 50 was the first to talk smack, announcing that he'd retire if West won the battle; the two then faced off on Rolling Stone's cover and at MTV's Video Music Awards. After early returns showed him losing, 50 Cent blamed his label, Interscope Records. "They're dropping the ball all over the place," he told New York's Hot 97, "I'll release my next album, and then I'm a free agent."
Hip-hop's Super Tuesday came as a relief to music retailers, who have seen a fourteen percent drop in CD sales so far in 2007, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The previous week, sales of the Top 200 totaled less than 2.1 million albums — the lowest total of the SoundScan era. "I feel pretty good about both these releases having some long-lasting sales," says Best Buy exec Lon Lindeland. "Not all the sales are in Week One. Fans of other artists in coming weeks will pick up Kanye and 50 as well."
This is a story from the October 4th, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone.