It seems that if Jay-Z wants to keep his future albums from hitting the streets before their proper release dates, he'll have to hire a security detail that rivals the size of the secret service team in his video for "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)."
Bootleggers in New York started selling two versions of Jay's album The Blueprint last week, and on Tuesday (September 4), Def Jam announced that it has once again pushed the LP's release date up one week, this time from September 18 to September 11.
The Blueprint was originally set for release September 25, though that was changed by Def Jam and that date was given to DMX's The Great Depression. X's album has since been moved to October 23.
Def Jam does not cite the illegal street vending of the album as provocation for The Blueprint's switch. In a statement, the label said the change was "due to overwhelming demand by consumers and retailers alike."
Since last week, some impatient fans have been paying between five and 10 dollars to hear songs such as "The Takeover," where Jay sends acidic barbs toward Mobb Deep and Nas. "Went from Nasty Nas to Esco's trash," Jay says on the track. "Had a spark when you started but now you're just garbage."
While most of the official album's songs are on both bootlegged versions, "Heart of the City" and "Song Cry" and interchanged with "Lyrical Exercise" and the remix to "Girls, Girls, Girls."
In the past, Jay has combated bootlegging by making last-minute song additions and subtractions, as he did with Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter, which hit the streets two weeks before its scheduled arrival in stores.
In August, Jay said he was taking extra security measures to safeguard The Blueprint, such as waiting until the last minute to master the LP and mixing all of his songs in one studio.
Of course, no one can give an accurate account of how many sales are lost because of bootlegging, though it doesn't seem to have much of a negative effect on Jay's releases. His last two LPs, Vol 3 ... and The Dynasty: Roc La Familia 2000, which was also leaked weeks before it hit stores, both debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling over 460,000 copies in their first weeks of hitting the shelves.
Meanwhile, Jay's long-delayed trial on assault charges won't begin until at least October 15, according to his lawyer, Murray Richman. He was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday (September 4), but the appearance has been pushed back. Richman didn't give a reason for the change. Jay-Z is accused of stabbing record executive Lance "Un" Rivera; at the time of Jay-Z's arrest, both the New York Daily News and Newsweek quoted unnamed sources saying Jay believed Rivera participated in the bootlegging of Vol 3 ... (see "Jay-Z Turns Himself In To Police For Questioning, Denies Involvement In Stabbing").
Jay-Z is also scheduled to appear in court October 16 for a hearing on unrelated gun charges that arose when police allegedly found a weapon in his bodyguard's waistband outside a New York nightclub in April (see "Jay-Z Arrested On Gun Charge").
Jay's Blueprint Lounge Tour is scheduled to start on September 14 in Columbus, Ohio, and end on October 12 in L.A. (see "Jay-Z Announces Blueprint Lounge Tour Dates").
For a full-length Jay-Z interview, check out "Jay-Z: Blueprint For Success".