50 Cent vs. Kanye West

A bad sign is when the guests outshine the host. The single “Ayo Technology” benefits more from Timbaland’s psychedelic beats and Justin Timberlake’s crooned hook than anything the rapper has to say. On party jams like “Peep Show,” Fiddy sounds assured, the flow comes naturally, but Eminem’s sick

rhyme about defecation distracts from the headliner. Ultimately, 50 Cent looks more and more like a marketing success story whose skills as an emcee are suspect.

Kanye can’t get over himself, but memorable rhymes — “I’m a fly Malcolm X/Buy any jeans necessary” — never grow old. And when the rapper gets preachy, like he does on the opener “Good Morning,” — which features a subtle sample of the Elton John tune “Somebody Saved My Life Tonight” — one can’t help but admire his talent. Nearly the entire CD, especially numbers like the self-produced smash “Stronger,” hit the mark. But there are weak spots. Kanye’s collaboration with Mos Def finds the rappers listlessly

complaining about “Drunk and Hot Girls” over a beat more bland than the subject matter.

Comparing a hardcore rapper like 50 Cent to a progressive rhymer such as Kanye West is like pitting a hair metal band against an alternative rock act. As far as substance goes, the former will always lose out to the latter. That said, Kanye’s latest still makes for a considerably more realized production than  Fiddy’s.

Curtis 2.5 stars

Graduation 3.5 stars

—Wade Tatangelo







The images line the shelves of stores nationwide. One artist glares at the camera while the other opts for anime by renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. It’s hardcore thug tales and club bangers versus “messages” and fashion boasts. With both discs released on Tuesday of last week, the mainstream media couldn’t help but hype the event as a monumental showdown, one that would dictate the future of hip-hop and perhaps the ailing music industry in general. We’ll see.

50 Cent has milked his crack-dealer past to no end; so has his label and just about every music writer in the country. He’s not cuddly yet like Snoop Dogg, but it’s getting harder to take his thug routine seriously. For instance, the threatening “Fully Loaded Clip” attempts to reassert Fiddy’s street cred, but he sounds silly making smooching noises in between rapping: “When Jay and Beyonce were kissing, I was cooking 1,000 grams in the kitchen.”

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