Now you see it, now you don't. At least that's what Geffen Records is hoping will happen with Mos Def's latest album, Tru3 Magic, which was unceremoniously released by the label on December 29.
Although the LP is available for purchase online and at some retail outlets, representatives for Geffen are calling the project a limited-edition "pre-release" rather than a full-scale album release by the rapper — a rare if not unprecedented situation. Responding to whether Tru3 Magic officially came out, a Geffen publicist told MTV News, "It did and it didn't."
According to the label, after the album began leaking online in early December, a decision was made to push the project forward and send it to stores to combat Internet piracy; some copies of the LP were in stores as early as December 19. The oddly timed December 29 official release date — a Friday as opposed to the traditional Tuesday, and during the slow media week between Christmas and New Year's Day — virtually guaranteed that the album would receive little attention. Sources close to Mos Def said the rapper also wanted to move forward with Tru3, which is his last contractual obligation to Geffen under his current deal, according to a label rep.
However, after both parties realized little time would be available to properly promote the LP, Mos and the label came to the joint decision to push the release date back. At the time of the decision, the packaged CD had already been sent off to distributors and shipped to stores. Geffen responded by attempting to recall the album, but once retail outlets receive copies, a recall is difficult: Whether or not to send back the albums is at the discretion of each store.
Now a springtime release, featuring a slightly altered track list and full artwork (the current packaging of Tru3> features only a picture-CD in a blank plastic case), the project will considered a new release for a second time even though it officially charted last week. The LP debuted at #151 on the Billboard albums chart on 11,004 copies sold, according to SoundScan. The single "Undeniable" also received a Grammy nod in the Best Rap Solo Performance category. By adjusting the track list, the album will be eligible to officially debut again later in the year upon its second release, explained a retail representative for Billboard magazine.
So fans who manage to get their hands an early copy of Tru3 Magic, consider yourselves the owners of a collector's item.