Drake might be a budding superstar, but he's gotta eat. That seems to be the consensus on the major hip-hop blogs, many of which have decided not to post more songs — many of them unfinished — from the Toronto MC's forthcoming Thank Me Later LP, which leaked early Wednesday (June 2).
Many times in the past — with Jay-Z's Blueprint 3, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III and Kanye West's 808s and Heartbreak — we've seen blogs post a myriad of songs immediately after the album leaks. While they might not post the entire album, you'd get at least three new joints from it. With Drake, however, most blogs have decided to ignore Thank Me Later's early, unplanned release.
"Enough is enough," Andrew Barber of FakeShoreDrive.com told MTV News on Wednesday. "I know, for my credibility, we kinda already take enough from the artists. I know it's a give-and-take relationship, but we already take enough from the artists. At a certain point, you have to take a stand. Most ethical blogs won't post the album or keep posting [individual songs]. At a certain point, you're cutting into their sales. Its one thing to post a few songs, but to post every single song, that's basically pirating. That's where I draw the line."
"To be fair," RapRadar.com founder Elliott Wilson said, "I think a lot of the sites, when the album fully leaks, they don't put up the full album leaks. They kinda slowed down on the leaks and they'll make the bold statement, they'll decide, 'This is the last leak we're gonna put up from the project.' "
Sure enough, on Wednesday morning, NahRight.com posted a CD-quality version of the Drake/Jay-Z lyrical throwdown "Light Up." At the end of the post a message read: "Last Thank Me Later leak we're posting here. June 15th."
"You've gotta credit Drake, especially with NahRight and other sites," Wilson added. "He was well-connected to those guys. You do form relationships, and again, as a rap fan, you sort of think a lot of these bloggers are fans at the end of the day. They don't want to hurt his sales. You start looking in the mirror — we got excited by [Jay Electronica's] 'Exhibit C.' When it went to iTunes, we was rallying people to go buy it legally just to support the movement of this new energy in hip-hop. I think those people are taking stock and they want Drake to do well also. He comes from them. He has a line in the new album about the backpack guy who's getting to this level. He did his due diligence. He went through the blogs. So much of So Far Gone's initial ascent was from the blogs. In terms of good will, they don't wanna come back now and do anything they feel could possibly hurt him."
NahRight captains a conglomerate of blogs known as the New Music Cartel: YouHeardThatNew.com, 2DopeBoyz.com, DaJaz1.com, OnSmash.com, and XclusivesZone.net are also affiliated. The NMC has become known as the leading source of new hip-hop music to hit the Internet, even getting tracks before some top DJs.
"I think many of the top blogs posted the memorable or anticipated tracks from the album for their readers but refused to post more," XclusiveZone's Mr. X said. "It's not only because of Drake — I can speak for myself and possibly the NMC, we don't post full albums. We give the readers a sample of what they want to hear but tell them to support [artists], and always plug in the release date. But with Drake, because the anticipation was so high, everyone expected us to post the full album. We want to see him go gold or platinum the first week. We aren't trying to take from someone's plate — we're all trying to eat together. We never condone unauthorized leaks but if something does leak, it's best to take it and move on. Look at Drake's response to his album leaking: 'I gave away free music for years so we're good over here.' That made me respect him even more. It's better than crying about it. The track is already out. Enjoy the free promotion, I guess."
So the question is, will Drake's leak hurt his album sales? Perhaps not — there hasn't been a single hip-hop LP in recent memory that didn't doesn't get leaked. In Drake's case, he may be one of the lucky ones: Some artists' albums get leaked as far as a month out (in the case of Lil Wayne's Rebirth, four months). Thank Me Later hit the black market less than two weeks from its June 15 release date.
"I don't think it's gonna hurt him," Wilson said. "I think it's close enough to the release date. There's a lot of people that want to support him. This is a moment that we've been waiting for. I've been trying to figure out what this feels like and what makes this different. Even though this is a debut album, it's not like 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' or Kanye's College Dropout, in the sense of 'this person really heated up the game.' We all kind of like wanted to be a part of this guy celebrating and reaching that level. I feel like with this Drake situation, it's kinda similar to Wayne where he's already killed it on a lot of levels. He's on so many hits, this is kind of like his ascension. If this record does get embraced the way people think it will be, it will [definitely make him] the next star — which reminds me of the way Tha Carter III went down, where Wayne set the table of him being the next dude but you needed the album to really prove it. Even though Drake is unproven as far as putting out a debut album, he's been part of so much success already."
What do you think about Drake's album leaking? Has this gone on long enough? Let us know in the comments below!