By Chris Yuscagave
Quick, somebody call a plumber.
Thanks to the rise of the Internet and new forms of technology that have made it easy for almost anyone with a cable modem and a laptop to become a computer hacker, today's hip-hop songs and albums are springing leaks like never before. Many hit the Web days, weeks and even months before their scheduled release dates.
The latest victim is Kanye West, who nearly canceled last week's G.O.O.D. Friday release after his unmastered songs, "Lost In The World" and "All Of The Lights," unceremoniously leaked to the Internet. As a result, he unleashed a tirade on his Twitter account, taking aim at computer hackers and saying that they're messing things up for rest of the hip-hop community by leaking music before it's ready.
'Ye isn't the only artist facing the harsh realities of bootlegging, though. Many other rappers have been fighting off bootleggers and hackers for years now. To demonstrate what we mean, RapFix collected a list of 10 hip-hop albums that hit the (digital) streets so early even a plumber would've had a tough time controlling the leaks.
The Rapper: Lloyd Banks
The Album: The Big Withdraw
The Leak: You actually can't blame the bootleggers for this one. After going platinum with his debut album The Hunger For More in 2004, Banks reportedly lost a CD containing more than 20 songs intended for his sophomore album after a sexual encounter with two women in 2006. That forced the G-Unit rapper to head back into the studio to release a new album, Rotten Apple, that was released in 2007.
The Rapper: Lupe Fiasco
The Album: Lasers
The Leak: At the top of 2010, Lupe had several new songs, including a prospective single called "I'm Beaming," leaked from his third album. Thanks to the leaks, Lupe showcased his frustrations during an MTV News interview and also revealed that he would no longer be putting out his Friend of the People mixtape, the follow-up to his December 2009 mixtape, Enemy of the State.
The Rapper: Ras Kass
The Album: Van Gogh
The Leak: Once one of the most anticipated rappers from the West Coast, Ras Kass and his third album, Van Gogh, got caught up in label politics with Priority Records in the early 2000s and ended up sitting on the shelf for years (and, eventually, forever) after bits and pieces of the album leaked to the Internet. Ras actually recorded more songs for the album and retitled it Goldyn Child, but that album met the same fate and was never officially released either.
The Rapper: Lil Wayne
The Album: Tha Carter III
The Leak: It's hard to tell exactly what Wayne recorded for Tha Carter III and what he recorded just for the hell of it, but in the two years leading up to TCIII's June 2008 release, dozens of new Wayne songs leaked to the public. Things got so bad that Wayne actually turned a small collection of these songs into a pre-TCIII EP appropriately titled The Leak.
The Rapper: Lil Wayne
The Album: Rebirth
The Leak: Unfortunately, Tha Carter III isn't the first album Weezy's struggled to keep under wraps until its intended release date. Wayne's experimental rock album, Rebirth, faced a similar fate late last year after Amazon.com accidentally mailed out about 500 copies of the album almost two months before it dropped in February 2010.
The Rapper: Dr. Dre
The Album: Detox
The Leak: More than ten years after releasing his sophomore album, 2001 (which was technically released in 1999, for those doing the math at home), Dre has still not put out his long-awaited third album, Detox. But rap fans have heard a number of references tracks (songs that include Dre verses written and rapped by other artists) and a small selection of songs—like "Under Pressure," featuring Jay-Z—that are due to appear on the final tracklisting.
The Rapper: Snoop Dogg
The Album: The Last Meal
The Leak: Three weeks before Snoop released his final album on No Limit Records (remember those days?) in December 2000, the Doggfather's former boss Suge Knight got his hands on it and leaked it on the official Death Row website alongside audio of Snoop's unsanctioned Death Row release, Dead Man Walkin'. Suge's strategic move didn't pay off, though, and Tha Last Meal still went on to sell more than a million copies.
The Rapper: Big Boi
The Album: Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
The Leak: About a third of the songs that appeared on Big Boi's recently-released solo debut have been out for more than a year now. Because he shifted over from one record label to another (he started the project signed to Jive Records and ended up releasing it through Def Jam) and because so many hands touched the album while he worked on it, a lot of the songs that ended up on the album weren't actually new by the time the album finally dropped.
The Rapper: 50 Cent
The Album: Before I Self Destruct
The Leak: Just about every new album today leaks a week or two in advance. But Fif's fourth album actually leaked more than a month in advance in October 2009 and forced him to push his release date up two weeks for the retail copy and three weeks for the digital copy.
The Rapper: Game
The Album: The R.E.D. Album
The Leak: Figuring out what's going to be on Game's forthcoming fourth album and what's not is a little like trying to figure out who Game gets along with and who he doesn't. There have been countless promo singles, street singles and plain old regular songs leaked from The R.E.D. Album that have forced him to go back into the studio time and time again to re-record new material. But with the way rap albums are leaked these days, are you really surprised?
Can you think of any other hip-hop albums that have leaked before their time? Tell us in a comment below or tweet us at @MTVRapFix and let us know.