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Is a Kanye West-Drake album release showdown coming?

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Another week, another Kanye West release date rocketed – this time, for the second time, with his long-delayed album “Donda”. It was released first in July 2020, then on July 23 of this year, then on August 6, now it’s apparently August 13 – or maybe August 15! – according to eagle eyed detectives who spotted the change of dates on iTunes and Apple Music hours after it failed again last Friday.

Of course, a drop album is never ONLY a drop album for Kanye. His last three major releases – “Life of Pablo”, “Ye” and, well, “Donda” – have been accompanied by elaborate listening events. Damn, “Donda” had two at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and the damn thing still isn’t here, even though he went so far as to put on an elaborate and expensive show around him at the. last event, one that culminated with him, yes, being in fact lifted up towards the stadium ceiling by almost transparent cables, bathed in white light, as if he were ascending to the sky.

So what’s the delay? As with most things about Kanye, it’s either his perfectionism or just another way to keep fans engaged, interested, frustrated, and outraged – envelopes he’s been pushing back since he started his career nearly 20 years.

But industry sources, fans and others have come up with a different theory: that he’s waiting for Drake to announce a release date for his long-delayed new album, “Certified Lover Boy” – which the Canadian rapper says , will be released by the end. of the summer – so he can face off against him in a titans release date clash, like he did with 50 Cent almost 14 years ago.

In fact, now that he’s gone to heaven, it’s pretty much the only way for him to create even more anticipation around “Donda”, which he has already created and edited twice.

In fact, the 2007 stalemate with 50 – which saw the two artists’ third albums, West’s’ Graduation ‘and’ 50s’ Curtis, fall on the same day, no less than 9/11 – was in fact the Kanye West’s most elaborate outing event. And there was much more at stake than in a similar battle today.

Back in the day, before streaming services became the standard format for music, most fans actually had to pay for individual albums, through CDs, downloads, or vinyl. Artists and labels were aware that most fans were only going to spend a certain amount of money per week on music, and forcing them to choose between two new albums on the same day didn’t make commercial sense. For decades, artists vigorously avoided releasing big albums or singles on the same day.

However, “careful” is not a word that has never been used to describe Kanye or 50 – who in 2007 were pretty much the kings of the game, with Jay-Z still “retired” in the game. ‘time and during his last year of service. as President / CEO of Kanye’s parent label, Def Jam Records.

Back then, West was still a rising star, with 50 the sales titan: even in an era when CD sales were rapidly collapsing and the industry was the victim of illegal downloads and other forms of piracy, her 2005 album “The Massacre” sold 1.5 million copies in its first week – one of the last albums to hit the first million weeks mark. West’s 2005 album “Late Registration” had moved 860,000 units in its first week, but its popularity and influence was skyrocketing.

Some two months before the release date, the two began to clash: On July 13, 1950s label Interscope, announced that the release date for “Curtis” had been moved from September 11 to September 4 in order to avoid Labor Day (that was when most people were still buying music in stores). Six days later, sources confirmed that the “graduation ceremony” went from September 18 to September 11.

To the astonishment of the industry and to the delight of the fans, the battle was on.

The pair played the rivalry for all it was worth. 50 claimed he would retire from the music if West sold it better in the first week, although he later recalled the remarks. The two set up early skirmishes by releasing singles to create anticipation for their albums – West dropped two of his biggest songs, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Stronger,” while 50 enjoyed a collapse at the G-Unit offices in Midtown Manhattan. , throwing his cell phone out the window and ripping a flatscreen TV from the wall, after learning that the video of his collaboration with Robin Thicke “Follow My Lead” had leaked, weeks before he had planned to release it. publish.

While sales forecasts for both projects had been more or less equal in the weeks leading up to release, West’s lead widened in the days following the albums’ release – remember, the final tally. would only be available a week after release. In an effort to tip the scales, the couple stepped up their efforts that week: West appeared at the Emmy Awards while 50 embarked on a “5 Borough Tour” of his hometown of New York. Over the week, 50 began lashing out at West’s label Def Jam, claiming (without substantial evidence) that the company was buying copies of “Graduation” to increase sales.

In the end, as MTV News said at the time, West “beat” 50, releasing 957,000 copies of “Graduation” versus 691,000 copies of “Curtis,” according to Nielsen SoundScan, the standard for l industry at the time.

“It’s a big day for Kanye West and Roc-A-Fella Records and a fantastic day for hip hop and art,” said Jay-Z, then president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings (company mother of his Roc-A-Fella). label, to which West is signed). “It’s a good sign that sincere, sincere and honest music can do these kinds of acts. “

So, is West waiting for Drake’s long-awaited “Certified Lover Boy” album, which the Canadian superstar recently said is finally done? While Drake still feeds his audiences with standalone songs, feature films, and other media snacks, he hasn’t released a full album since “Scorpion,” a little over three years ago. He had initially promised that “Certified Lover Boy” would fall last January, but backtracked.

And while this is a clash of the titans – there aren’t any big names in hip-hop right now, and just a few others in pop music – what does a 2021 release date mean? Presumably, the race for a billion total streams for albums would likely be the finish line. But the fact that streaming is measured by songs rather than albums – and the fact that artists often add more songs to albums in the days after release to help boost the numbers – makes it a benchmark. difficult to measure: first 24 hours, first week, etc.

But that cuts hair in four: Nothing makes the headlines like a conflict, and there’s none juicier in music today than Kanye vs. Drake. Sources from the West and Drake labels declined to confirm album release dates – but in 2021, it’s the superstar artists who decide when to give up music, as West’s ever-changing release dates prove.

So all bets are off. Take out the popcorn popper …

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