Graduation vs Curtis: Who was the real winner?


Yesterday (11th of September), marked the tenth anniversary of one of the most famous rap battles in modern times, and one that would have a huge impact on the future of Hip-Hop.

For September 11, 2007, marks the day that Kanye West toppled his rival 50 Cent against all the odds, to become the new face of urban rap music.

For a generation such as ours, many might forget just how big of a rivalry this became and also what it did for not only the culture of Hip/Hop, but the culture of music and entertainment itself.

Graduation vs Curtis who would win this epic show down?

In the Red corner you had the tried and trusted, rough and tough gangsta from New York, 50 Cent who at that point in his career was untouchable. Fif was simply bigger than any competition put in front of him.

Now in the blue corner approached a cocky, flash, arrogant and egotistical Kanye West. Kanye was new, electric and against the grain much to the hatred of the rap eccentrics.

Whilst Fif was rocking his saggy, jeans and baseball jackets, Ye was styling out with an edgy kind of look, largely based off a visit to Japan where he took a keen interest and collabed with what was to be known as A bathing Ape and its designer Nigo.

But to be fair to 50 on the face of it, he should have felt confident going into the battle, he had already essentially ended the careers of Ja Rule and Fat Joe, landed on the rise side with his beef the Game and had easily dispatched Shyne following his send from jail.

Yet, in 2007 music commentators believed that rap was changing, the trio of Eminem, 50 and Dre had enjoyed years at the top with their individual and joint successes, but new and upcoming artists were making noise. Furthermore, as complex stated in an article leading up to the anniversary ‘it was not a case of who would win, but after hearing the records [Stronger and Straight to the Bank] back-to-back it was clear the two artists could no longer co-exist.’

But when the Get Rich or Die Tryin star released ‘I Get Money’ followers believed that was it and it would be a case of ‘And Still…’ when announcing a winning.

But Ye countered that, and as the excitement of ‘I Get Money’ wore off, ‘Stronger’ meanwhile was played across several radio publications and more importantly appealed to a wider audience when compared with Fif.

It just so happened that was the tipping point. The new flashy and fashionable Kanye was able to appeal to a mass audience and was seen as the future of rap, contrast this with 50 and he was very much the image of yesteryear.

970,000 copies of Graduation sold in its first week compared to the 691,000 of Curtis. 50 said if Kanye beat him he would retire from making music – although in spoken terms he didn’t, his era very much did.

The shift had started, and Kanye’s popularity signalled a new era of rap music that is reaching us today. Forward thinking artists such as Drake, A$ap Rocky and J. Cole came off the conveyor belt to become raps popular force and gangsta rap had died. 50 would never go platinum after that and his G-Unit crew became dismantled.

Nevertheless, 50 had rebranded and remodelled with his business and television ventures being immensely successful.

But should gangsta rap have died that day? Who was your real winner?