The two most anticipated hip-hop albums of the summer are already out on the streets.
Recovery, Eminem’s highly anticipated follow up to last year's Relapse, leaked online a few days ago. Not due until June 22, the album became available for free a full two weeks before it will be available in stores or as an official download.
Drake’s debut album, Thank Me Later, slated for a June 15 release, has been available online for more than a week now.
And while both Tuesdays will still arrive with excitement attached to them, for many fans who have already got their hands on both albums, June will go by without so much as a blip.
I would love to tell you that I am a good person and haven’t downloaded either album. But I would be lying to you. But within both of these leaks are two separate issues.
With Drake, I illegally downloaded the Toronto MC's album because I was skeptical of its content. Drake seemed to have lost the originality and freshness that morphed him into a hip-hop heavyweight ever since signing with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment.
I wasn’t planning on purchasing Thank Me Later to begin with, but with the album leaking, I was able to lend my inquisitive ears a listen. And I was impressed. The album is by no means an Illmatic, but it is a solid debut for a guy who spent year rolling around in a wheelchair on TV.
So in this case, the leak is a positive for Drake: A doubtful pseudo-fan listened to an album he otherwise wouldn’t have and now might throw down some cash to support the rapper's next effort. It is in this sense that free music, whether purposely free or not, can benefit an artist.
In Eminem’s case, I found an opposite scenario. I love Eminem. I grew up listening to his women-beating, death-threatening, self-loathing rhymes, and enjoyed every second of it.
And although he completely lost his way after The Eminem Show, Recovery was supposed to be his second coming. His lyrical prowess had returned and he was no longer rapping using that weird accent in his voice that sounded like a geographical mixture of the Middle East and Boston.
When I found out Recovery had leaked, I couldn’t help but download it. The rumors were true: Shady is back to his old self. The album is great, but in a sense, he lost a sale. I won’t be buying Recovery when it comes out because I already own it. June 22 will go by for me without much of a bang. Even though I am a huge fan, the leak won’t allow me to prove it.
Leaks are a double-edged sword, and Eminem and Drake are a perfect example of the pros and cons of this so-called “free” music.
What do you think? Do you download leaks? We'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter, especially regarding these two upcoming monster releases. —Jordan Zirm