NEW YORK — Kanye West has expressed confidence about his chances on the SoundScan chart on September 11 — the day he and 50 Cent face off by dropping their respective new LPs. Fif has voiced his skepticism, recently telling Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97 that he thinks Roc-A-Fella CEO and Def Jam President/CEO Jay-Z will move ’Ye’s release. Nah, according to Hov. In fact, the Jiggaman has embraced the competition. Let the games begin.
“I think it’s great, I think it’s a fantastic day for hip-hop,” Jay said last week at his Rocawear offices in Manhattan. “I remember having those dates [facing against] Outkast a couple of times. I actually had one with G-Unit [with Beg for Mercy]. It’s great. It’s a fantastic thing for hip-hop, especially retail. I know they’re loving it. You’re driving people to the store. We love it, we think it’s a fantastic thing.”
Kanye has just released yet another record to accompany his recent Graduation singles “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Stronger”: a remix to the former track that features Young Jeezy. Jay said it’s no accident that the Roc is keeping the ammo coming, building up anticipation for ’Ye (see “Kanye West Says He’s Ready To Pit His Album Against 50 Cent’s: ’We Ain’t Moving’ “ and “Kanye West And 50 Cent Set For Epic Battle: Both Releasing Albums On September 11” ).
“There’s a strategy involved,” he said. “You wanna put yourself in the best position. But you do that anyway. You do that if nobody [else] was on [your release date]. We’ve been plotting since his first album, when it was like, ’We’re just gonna cover you. We’re gonna put so many people on your album with the great production.’ And then he just stood up to be an artist and that whole idea changed. So ever since that initial conversation of how we’re going to release Kanye, we never stopped plotting.”
Jay’s game-plan mapping, as you know, doesn’t just pertain to music. He has a slew of businesses under his umbrella and just launched a whole new campaign for Rocawear called “I Will Not Lose.” Obviously that has been one of the mogul’s mantras for years, and now he’s flipped it into his clothing line.
“With the ’I Will Not Lose’ campaign, it’s the voice of what Rocawear stood for,” he explained. “Rocawear is culture — it’s more than a clothing line; that’s why we could be here eight years now. We wanted to be inclusive of everybody that got us to where we are today. We’re speaking from their point of view as well. Everybody sees Rocawear as a thing — it’s actually hope. It’s possibility. This is something you could do because they didn’t make me out of nowhere, I come from the same place they come from.”
Ciara and Chris Brown are the spokespeople for Rocawear, but the company is also highlighting other unexpected celebrities in its new set of ads: Rich Boy and Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, as well as other people who have excelled in extraordinary circumstances. IWillNotLose.org features such people as Jamilla Farrakhan, granddaughter of Louis Farrakhan, and Amie Steele, editor in chief of the Virginia Tech student newspaper, Collegiate Times.
“We started finding current events, things that were going on,” Jay said about how he and his company decided who to spotlight. “Like [Steele] … it started morphing, and you start finding these interesting people. We didn’t start the submission process until recently, to be more inclusive of everybody.”
On the site, you can vote for who you think is the most inspirational person — Rocawear will also be donating funds to related charities through the “I Will Not Lose” campaign.