Going head to head on hip-hop album release dates is nothing new for Kanye West. His September 11, 2007 Graduation album topped 50 Cent's Curtis in first week sales after a much publicized face-off where 50 Cent declared he would quit his solo recording career if he finished second. Unfortunately for hip-hop, the rapper didn't keep his promise.
Fast forward to last week when Mr. West dropped Yeezus on June 18, the same date new school rhymer J. Cole decided to unleash Born Sinner his sophomore effort. Cole had originally planned on hitting the stores this Tuesday but intentionally moved it up to vie with Yeezus.
With the Nielsen SoundScan numbers in, Kanye West emerged on top debuting at No. 1.
Both albums suffered from the fact that they were leaked in advance in an act that had nothing to do with political whistleblower on the loose Eric Snowden! West came in moving 327,000 units and Cole placed a close second with 297,000 copies sold. Though Yeezy claimed the top spot, it was his worst first week sale figures of his music career. On a different tip, J.Cole's stats were his best yet eclipsing Cole World: The Sideline Story.
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The juxtaposition seems to underlie the opposite directions the rappers are headed despite the Billboard charts. West's new offering has been reviewed to death with some critics praising Yeezus, others crucifying it. As someone who wrote an appreciation of Kanye West for this blog years ago, his latest album just doesn't live up to justifying his arrogance this time around. It does nothing to add to the legacy that was building with Graduation, My Dark Twisted Fantasy and his definitive performance as a Coachella headliner. If you haven't yet, don't wast precious iTunes money on this album. It barely warrants a half-assed listening session on YouTube.
I actually went out and bought Born Sinner based, in part, on the strength of the snaggletooth anthem "Crooked Smile" alone with TLC on the hook. Another track "Let Nas Down" is powered by humble sentiments captured in lyrics like "Long live the idols / May they never be your rivals." As an emergent rapper, J. Cole takes it back with samples of A Tribe Called Quest and Outkast paying homage to those who came before him as he makes his own way.
Back in 2007, Kayne bested 50 Cent with a superior album. Six years later, the same can't be said even if he claimed the top spot on hip-hop super Tuesday once more...