CD Reviews: 50 Cent, Kanye West

50 Cent: Curtis Shady/Aftermath/Interscope
Music •••½ Sound ••••
Kanye West: Graduation Roc-A-Fella
Music •••• Sound ••••

In the Fight of the Still-Young Century, 50 Cent and Kanye West square off with CDs released on the same day. Who's the victor? On Curtis, Fiddy again has loads of help from friends. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland beef up the electro-banger "Ayo Technology," and Robin Thicke adds (sappy) soul to "Follow My Lead." Hitting hardest, though, is Curtis himself, his words blazin' on the rock-flavored "My Gun Go Off" and the keyboard chiller "I'll Still Kill."

Over on Graduation, Kanye can still have a ball with the old school (the discofied "Flashing Lights," the gospelly "Can't Tell Me Nothing"). But he also continues to bounce hip-hop into exciting new realms that are booty-shaking and artful, whether he's landing subtle instrumental nuances ("Good Morning") or soul-searching to lush orchestration ("I Wonder"). So whereas Fiddy still packs heat, West transforms the game and wins it.

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