No Trivia

So Kanye leaked his album, right?


Judging from the glowing Rolling Stone review that arrived yesterday–a major publication wouldn’t release a genuine review of a leak, even in 2010–and the lack of Kanye’s bitch-fit tweets about the leak, this is part of the P.R plan for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s a way for critics to get the album out early enough to start making those thinkpieces and listicles. It side-steps the inevitable leak without damaging the mystique of the album altogether. Also: via “G.O.O.D Friday,” Kanye’s been casually leaking the album and adjusting listeners to the prog-rap epics for a few months now.

The clean version is also a less obnoxious variation on the “for promotional purposes only” audio-stamps that were popular a few years ago but made listening close to impossible. No one can pretend this is really an exclusive or a big deal (“You got the clean version off the internet like the rest of us buddy!”) because it isn’t the entire experience but, it’s not so short that it isn’t enjoyable. It’s the album but it isn’t. Late next week, when the “dirty” version finally does leak because the CD will be pressed by then, it won’t be a big deal anymore because we’ve all heard it. And two weeks from now, when we’re all still wrapping our heads around this masterpiece, many of us will give-in and buy the thing, joining the masses who aren’t all that interested in getting shit early and have never heard of Hulkshare or Mediafire.

Also: Feel free to use the comment section to gush about the album with me.

Written by Brandon

November 10th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Kanye West

27 Responses to 'So Kanye leaked his album, right?'

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  1. hi, here to get the ball rolling.

    “dark fantasy” is kanye’s best album opener since “we don’t care” — and it should be said that kanye’s opening tracks are always perfectly chosen/constructed, like excellent-rapping reminders that the album you’re about to listen to is a JOURNEY not meant to be skipped around.


    10 Nov 10 at 8:25 pm

  2. Wes-
    Totally agree with the best 1st track thing. On ‘LR’ and ‘Grad’ the opening tracks are these like easing you in type tracks. “Dark Fantasy” just drops you in it. It’s good just hot rapping. Yes!


    10 Nov 10 at 8:36 pm

  3. you think we’ll hear the “kanye is only an average rapper” argument? i’m expecting a few but “graduation” and beyond solidified his technical abilities for me. i’d probably point the naysayers to “gorgeous’” second verse this time around.


    10 Nov 10 at 8:38 pm

  4. I guess I’ll download it later tonight.


    10 Nov 10 at 8:40 pm

  5. Major publication reviewers (especially RS reviewers) have always promo/advanced copies of albums provided to them by the labels.

    I think we’ve gotten to the point now that a large enough portion of the album-purchasing demographic knows how to use Google to find any album they want that it’s time for record companies to start putting the albums in digital outlets as soon as the leak hits the internet.

    Two things about humans/modern industry – 1) some people are just not going to pay for music when they can get it for free and 2) people are just not going to pay for something they already have.

    There is a big chunk of the 25-40 music dloading demo that steals music because they don’t want to wait 2 weeks/2 months after a leak to listen to the album. This same demo has disposable income and an active iTunes account.

    If I could buy the album right now off of iTunes, I would. But I can’t so I’m going to download like you and then not buy it.


    10 Nov 10 at 9:09 pm

  6. Josh-
    I know record companies give promo copies earlier, sometimes they even give them to me! But it’s no doubt that the 2-week early leak schedule developing stems from this kind of promo-ing. Critics or I don’t know, friends or girlfriends of critics are the one putting it on the internets.

    I also think that less people than you think know how Google blogsearch works. I work with mostly hip, with-it 20-somethings, a few of them are even tangentially connected to the music industry and if they steal music, they use torrents.


    10 Nov 10 at 9:20 pm

  7. Yeah man, I know you’re involved enough to know the way things work regarding promos – I hope me including that didn’t come off the wrong way.

    A few more reasons I didn’t think this was an intentional/promo leak: 1) for major releases like this record companies have been known to only give the whole CD to like three people for the first review cycle, knowing that Rob Sheffield will skeet if he gets to write the RS review. 2) i don’t know if you saw the twitpic Kanye posted of the CDR when the album was finished, but nowadays promo copies are watermarked which makes people hold on pretty damn tight.

    I do think the clean leaking first is intentional, but at first I thought it was maybe because they decided to press the clean versions first?

    I’m surprised about your bros – everybody I chill hard with knows google+album name+med1afire/megaupload/whatever means free tunes. and a lot of them don’t even post on forums.


    10 Nov 10 at 9:52 pm

  8. Josh-
    Could be an age thing though, in regards to google blog search. How old are you/friends? I’m 26, most of my co-workers are 25-35. Could be a generational thing?


    10 Nov 10 at 9:56 pm

  9. I am going to agree with Brandon, even with my friends and kids I know ago at least a good five years younger than Brandon. They still use torrents or even worse sites, they have no concept of those dozens of upload sites on the web.


    10 Nov 10 at 11:41 pm

  10. “Still” use torrents might not be the best way to put it. Invite only torrent sites like make getting them a fucking effortless thing. But yeah i’d agree, through college and now every one i know has been torrents mostly.

    I think maybe brandon said this before about kanye as master arranger, but All of the Lights to me sets kanye apart as a fucking damn near conductor. He got all those people on that track in a beautifully coherent way.


    11 Nov 10 at 1:15 am

  11. oh man, i’m old. i’m 31 and my friends are maybe a few years younger than me, but then again maybe i’m being too insular. but i don’t think it changes my point all that much – i still think we live in a time (or are getting very close) where stealing music using google instead of FTPs or IRC becomes common enough that record companies are going to have to compete with the leaks that are inevitably going to exist.

    i have enough money to buy the album. i want to buy the album. but i also want the album now instead of when you feel like letting me buy it. you are rewarding the people that steal it. people are becoming more and more desensitized to stealing music. if paying for the album is the morally correct choice, give me a chance to do the right thing.


    11 Nov 10 at 1:24 am

  12. Josh, you’re making a lot of sense. I think (probably mistakingly) that it might have to do with first week sales and shit. Imagine what they will look like when your first week digital downloads for an album released thursday night with no real announcement. Weak as fuck. I will admit that’s happened to me though. When Big Boi’s album came out I got it early and then i was like well fuck, I wanna go to my record store to buy. But then they didn’t have it on time and then I got lazy and then it was like am I gonna pay Steve Jobs for the exact same thing I already have but at a lower bit rate? I didn’t cop that shit for months afterwards.

    Unrelated: as much as Kudi kind of sucks, he makes Gorgeous work like a motherfucker.


    11 Nov 10 at 1:34 am

  13. “you think we’ll hear the “kanye is only an average rapper” argument?”

    If I ever actually listen to this I suspect that will be my reaction. It certainly was my reaction to ‘Power.’ I know that some will say it’s thick to care about whether he’s actually a good rapper or not given that making good rap albums is no longer what he’s even aiming for, but as long as rapping, rather than singing or whatever you would call what Ke$ha does, is the way he chooses to express himself, I’ll continue to care whether the actual rapping is good or not. But to be fair, and I suspect this is true of most people who say Kanye’s just not a good rapper, even if he did become a better rapper (and to be sure he has improved from the punchline-happy nadir of Late Registration or the huge empty spaces between lines nadir of Graduation), I still wouldn’t like him because (a) staying away from his emo mix of arrogance, massive insecurity, and obsessive introspection is why I listen to rap more than anything else in the first place, and (b) I feel he has one of the most unfortunate voices in music. Of course, I can see why people would find Kanye both thematically and vocally appealing, but such people and I, obviously, simply have very different tastes and values.


    11 Nov 10 at 1:40 am

  14. “Unrelated: as much as Kudi kind of sucks, he makes Gorgeous work like a motherfucker.”

    I’m not a Cudi fan (though Pursuit Of Happiness is/was a beautiful thing) and it’s only now, with MDTF, that I’m really realizing that Cudi’s appeal lies not in his (nonexistent) raps or singing, but his actual voice. I also don’t mind Rihanna on “All Of The Lights.”

    This feels like one of Kanye’s most organic records even though, in reality, it’s probably one of his most orchestrated/funded. Also, are there official production credits? Man, the beats on this thing ooze catharsis.


    11 Nov 10 at 2:36 am

  15. so my friend and I just had this conversation on facebook about the theory that Kanye leaked it himself. Here are the main points:

    “So Brandon Soderberg of the village voice put out this far-fetched but semi plausible theory that Kanye himself leaked it (which could explain the non-rant on his twitter, i mean this guy rants about everything and he has to know about it b…y now). The theory is essentially debunked by the comments section but it’s food for thought and potentially genius. Carter III and Recovery leaked and didn’t feel any ill effects in album sales. I think at this point, having the digital version of it available to me two weeks early won’t stop me from buying the cd b/c it’s such a solid piece of work.”

    *Do they press clean and explicit cds at different times because the walmarts of the world just carry more copies (and only sell clean)?

    patrick c.

    11 Nov 10 at 7:26 am

  16. Kid Cudi is the female Rihanna.


    11 Nov 10 at 10:46 pm

  17. ^^^^ And both sound great on this album


    11 Nov 10 at 11:40 pm

  18. Damn. Honestly, I’m still waiting on November 22. I’ve been holding off on the album releases of artists I care about. I’ve stopped myself from listening to any other leaks other than the ones Ye has dropped. It’s not for everyone but it’s something I like to do.

    But Brandon, you think this is truly a P.R. plan? I mean when you’ve got someone like Lupe fighting for control over every fuckin’ thing that leaks about him.

    I mean I want to do a write-up of my own reactions to the album, but will a couple days after November 22 be relevant in the blogosphere anymore?


    12 Nov 10 at 3:01 am

  19. does “All of the Lights” remind anyone else of “Never Let Me Down?” for me, the way very different artists are matched up, the scope of the song, and its ambition are a great giant mess that reminds me of that first album.


    14 Nov 10 at 8:20 pm

  20. I love this album, been listening to it all week, but I feel like Gil Scott Heron has the best verse. I also would love to see some production credits….I think bink and rza both did some tracks…


    14 Nov 10 at 11:32 pm

  21. Not much to add, except that I’m buying it when it comes out despite having heard the whole thing via individual leaks/Youtube/G.O.O.D. Friday drops. And I say this as someone who barely buys albums anymore. It’s THAT damn impressive.

    Ray Cummings

    15 Nov 10 at 10:00 pm

  22. Bink did Devil in a New Dress. I heard something about Rza giving him some beats, but it was unclear if any of those were used.

    Its a fantastic album. Anyone still quibbling about whether Kanye can rap in 2010 is playing themselves.


    21 Nov 10 at 8:30 pm

  23. Complete production credits:


    21 Nov 10 at 8:54 pm

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