Traditionally hip-hop fans look toward every Tuesday with hope and anticipation as new albums are released from their favorite artists after months of tireless promotion and hype. With the advent of pirating, record label snafus and most notably the Internet, it has become harder to keep rabid fans at bay as some have come to expect albums to drop early — sometimes several weeks before their slated release date.
With Kanye West and Jay-Z’s — known collectively as “The Throne” — upcoming Watch the Throne album set to be released digitally on August 8, Web savvy fans searching for the new album have no doubt scoured blogs, message boards and quite possibly manufacturing plants where albums are shipped from labels to be stocked in your local Best Buy in hopes of an early copy and have so far come up empty. In a time when leaked albums are commonplace, many are wondering how Watch the Throne has managed to beat the odds thus far.
Jay-Z, a victim of bootlegged and leaked LPs himself, explained that the Watch The Throne recording process was unique in that it helped the stars not only work on the album at their pace, but also aided them in avoiding the dreaded leaks to the Web. “We made this album, it took eight months. We should be able to release it the way we like without everyone being all up in arms,” said Jay-Z. Hov then further added about the unconventional release tactics, “The real reason behind it is was we didn’t want the music to leak. We wanted to present to the people in it’s entirety. When you send it out, once it leaves the plant and that’s the end of it.”
Hov quipped that email hackers play a huge role in Internet leaks, with the staggering of dates and the stars keeping the product close at hand and staving off the potential for a premature release. “We took great care to deliver this to the people without it leaking at all,” said a cool and confident Jay-Z in regards to the security of the album. To date Watch The Throne, has not been affected by a leak, a first for Jay-Z.
Brooklyn’s native son has been through this before pretty much his entire career. Two albums ago Jay’s studio album The Blueprint 3 was leaked ahead of its official date in 2009 forcing the MC to alter his release date. The original Blueprint was the victim of similar circumstances in 2001, and Def Jam pushed up the album release date after the record was being heavily bootlegged weeks prior to its release. While most certainly damaging to his sales in some part, The Blueprint still went on to sell platinum.
Two albums prior, Jay notoriously made headlines in December 1999 when the Roc-A-Fella captain was charged with assault against music producer Lance “Un” Rivera at a record release party for his Vol. 3 … Life and Times of S. Carter album. The incident took place days after the highly anticipated album was bootlegged.
There have been many leaks over the years to other rap superstars including Mr. West and his The College Dropout and Late Registration albums. Lil Wayne is no stranger to leaks himself with his Tha Carter II and Tha Carter III albums leaked weeks in advance of their release. All of outspoken rapper Lupe Fiasco’s three studio albums dropped early after they were leaked, sometimes months ahead of schedule.
Nas’ classic debut Illmatic was released in 1994, well before the Internet figured so prominently in hip-hop releases when a demo version of Illmatic reportedly made the rounds in and around New York City before the album’s actual release. For the most part, artists have taken the high road when victimized by leaks, adjusting to this inevitable consequence of the business that has economically changed the rap landscape dramatically and severely crippled the music industry.
Jay-Z and Kanye West should be commended for keeping WTT safe from those eager to post up their wares for free and more importantly bringing fans back to a time where all could share in the joy of hearing new music for the first time. If things go there way on August 8, Jay and Kanye would be the first in a long line of hip-hop acts to break the long suffering chain of seeing their months of hard work end up in the hands of bootleggers. History is seemingly in the making.
Are you surprised Watch The Throne has yet to leak? Are you going to buy a digital copy on August 8 or wait for the physical copies on August 12? Tweet to us at @MTVRapFix or leave us a comment below.