By Maurice Bobb
Chance the Rapper’s critically-acclaimed mixtape, Acid Rap, was released for free by the Chicago spitter on his website back in April, so why is it for sale on iTunes and Amazon and, more importantly, why did it recently hit No. 63 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart after moving 1,000 units one week in July? The answer’s simple: independent artists aren’t protected by the RIAA.
"I've never heard of Mtc, so this has taken us by surprise," Chance's manager Patrick Corcoran told Billboard about a company called “Mtc,” which is selling an unauthorized physical version of the CD for $14.83.
Digital versions of Acid Rap were being sold, too, but have since been taken down. The odd occurrence of the charting bootleg is unheard of for major label artists, but for independents like Chance, protection from third parties offering physical copies of unauthorized projects for sale is not hunted down by the notoriously litigious RIAA, leaving indies to have to fend for themselves, legally speaking.
"When I first saw it I showed Chance, and his lawyers are trying to stop it," added Corcoran.
Some digging revealed that Mtc’s distributor is Houston-based 1-Stop Distribution. Companies like 1-Stop sell CD's to larger distributors like SuperD, who in turn, moves the units via retailers like Amazon.
"It's a new world out there and there are always people trying to figure out how to break the rules," said SuperD CEO Bruce Ogilvie. "But if we find out someone is a bad actor, we shut them down. We don't need that headache."
With the head-scratching "free-mixtape-for-sale-that-shouldn’t-be-for-sale" problem still unresolved, Chance is taking it all in stride. "This shows that there's a strong appetite for Chance in the marketplace," he said. "How often does a bootleg hit a Billboard chart?"