By Alfred Branch, Jr.

With CD sales continuing to slump industrywide, what do a couple of multi-Platinum artists have to do to spark sales? How about invent a feud, and then sit back and watch as both see sales skyrocket on the initial days of their new albums’ releases.

50 Cent and Kanye West, in a stroke of marketing brilliance, recently squared off over who would sell more copies of their new albums, “Curtis” and “Graduation,” respectively. Both released their albums Tuesday, Sept. 11, and even appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine to play up their alleged feud.

So far, West appears to be leading 50, according to the Associated Press. After the first day, West had sold 437,000 copies compared to 310,000 for 50, based on data obtained from Nielsen Soundscan. Estimates published by Billboard place West on pace to sell between 575,000 and 700,000 copies in the first week, while 50 might reach 550,000.

Upping the ante on the competition, 50 reportedly said he would retire if West’s CD outsold his in the first week. “I just don’t view him as competition based on our previous sales histories,” 50 recently told AP.

Jonathan Cohen, Billboard’s senior editor, reportedly told AP that 50 hasn’t exactly helped his own cause. “I don’t think it’s helped 50 that so many of these prerelease singles that have come out have fizzled on the charts right away. There were street date changes. It has just not been a good run-up to this record for him.”

“These tantrums [West] goes on, these outlandish comments he makes, they don’t really hurt him. If anything, they’ve got more people interested in what he’s all about,” Cohen added, referring to various charged exchanges West has unleashed.