Def Jam Pulls Off The Most Successful Hip Hop Publicity Stunt Ever?

September 20th, 2007

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard of 50 Cent and Kanye West dropping albums on the same day and unless you have been living inside a hole [thats under a bigger rock], you must have heard of Kanye outselling 50 by almost 300,000 copies. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m shocked; Not because Kanye sold more, but because 50 did not cross the 800,000 mark on his first week [He went platinum (1,000,000 +) his first week on both of his prior solo efforts]. I guess thats what happens when you beef with half the industry and stick with the same tried and tested formula [Formula 50?] on your albums [Or maybe all the 13 year old gangsta wannabes finally realized that shooting people is not cool… at least not as cool as snapping their fingers and cranking that soulja boy… but thats another blog].

But as you might have guessed from the title of this blog, the topic is not Ferrari but rather the marketing genius of Def Jam. By not moving Mr. Louis Vuitton Don’s release date in order to avoid competition [and of course 50 promising to fulfill every hip hop head’s dream by promising to retire if Kanye beat him on the record sales], the people in suits at Def Jam got a portion of the hip hop community that isn’t usually active when it comes to buying albums to go out purchase an album.

We all know at least one of these people; the hip hop head who hasn’t bought a record since the Goodie Mob days, the random guy on the street with a “Hip Hop Is Dead!” T-Shirt, the college kid who only listens to underground/conscious hip hop, the old school guy [who probably rocked a huge gold chain and a shiny suit back in the day] who swears that Common Sense is the GOAT, the white dude who knows so much more about hip hop than you do, the guy who’s a member of the Facebook group “Lupe Fiasco = Da truth” and the list goes on and on. To a lot of these people, it not simply a matter of Kanye v.s 50, its a matter of “Uplifting Music” vs “All that is wrong with hip hop today”, its about “A rapper who disses everyone” vs “An emcee/producer who has collaborated with almost everyone”, its about All Falls Down” vs “P.I.M.P”, its your modern day good vs evil scenario in Hip Hop.

Last week, buying a Kanye album was kind of like voting; A lot of people weren’t actually voting for Kanye West, they were simply voting against gangsta rapper Curtis Jackson. Whether or not the marketing gurus at Def Jam planned all this out is a matter of speculation, but if they did…

50 or Kanye ?