When it comes to album leaks, Kanye West‘s are often considered the crème de la crème. Ever since the release of ‘Watch the Throne’ in 2011, the G.O.O.D. Music camp has been known for its wickedly protective security team, who only let out what Mr. West wants let out. In spite of this, every few years – around the time rumors start to spread that a new Kanye record is in the works – somebody manages to secure an unauthorized “demo reel” of the project, before attempting to share it to the masses. These “leaks” are usually taken down immediately, but it’s not uncommon to get hands on one yourself. Still, the question that needs to be asked is: Just because you can secure an unreleased copy of an album online, should you?
It’s hard to ask yourself such a direct life inquiry when you’re scrolling through the /mu/ message board of 4chan, when – all of the sudden – a link to Kanye’s new album appears. Could it be? Have you, the ever-ambitious hip hop head, really stumbled across an unreleased recording of Ye’s new LP? You’ve already done your homework: you know that the project is called SWISH (you also know that title probably won’t stick), you’ve memorized every lyric to “All Day,” and you hate “FourFiveSeconds.” Well, pal, it looks like all that devotion has finally paid off, as you’re about to get your hands on one of the most sought-after treasures in contemporary music: a Kanye leak.
The URL, pointing to FedsWatchingFileShare.com, seems fishy, but since it’s caused quite the stir amongst the other commenters, you bite. After wading through several hardcore porn pop-up ads (more like thoughtfully observing them), a CAPTCHA box, and a 30-second “guest” timer, you are finally granted access to what looks like your download link – named, innocently-enough, KANYE_WEST_SWISH_COMPLETE_ALBUM.zip.
“Did that whole album really download in under 60 seconds?” you ask yourself, as you locate the new ZIP folder in your computer’s file manager. “Even compressed, shouldn’t this thing be bigger than 15MB?” you wonder as you begin to extract its contents. Your gasp is audible as you realize what you downloaded wasn’t an a collection of songs at all, but a single MP3 file.
You open the 45-minute long “track” in iTunes, expecting to hear Kanye’s voice, droning synths, or something else, drastic yet original. But instead, you hear the voices of other people, attending what seems to be some sort of party, chuckling and clinking their glasses together in good cheer. In the background, something resembling hip hop plays, but your computer’s speakers are all-the-way-turnt-up, and that only makes the chatter in the foreground louder. “Is this the intro?”,you wonder like an innocent babe, as you wipe the blood dripping from your ears – you know how conceptual Yeezy can be.
You wait for the “introduction” to finish, but it never does. You’ve been listening for close to seven minutes now and you haven’t discerned any voice as distinctly Kanye’s. Flustered, you scrub ahead fifteen minutes in search of some actual music, only to find more of the same: a single, noisy, apparently undercover taping of a crowd hearing Kanye’s album for the first time. Only, the audio appears to have been recorded on an iPhone, in someone’s pocket, while they jumped up and down excitedly. Under the layers of digital artifacts and fuzz, you manage to hear a woman telling a man to remove his hands from around her waist, and what sounds like a fart. After torturing yourself for the remainder of the “song”, you hear Kanye say something like “thank you”, before the audience erupts into applause, blowing your speakers in the process.
What. The. Fuck.
To make matter worse, the following day Kanye states in an interview that, because of the low-quality leak, he will be re-tooling the album from square one, delaying its release by another three months at least. Humiliated (and still unable to close that last porn ad), you close your laptop, promise yourself you’ll never download another “leak,” and cry yourself to sleep. From that day on, you set out to be a shining example of an online music consumer; one who waits patiently for albums to drop, if only so as not to ruin the hype machine for everyone else.
But how, how do you prevent this shit show from happening again?
A few tips, young tadpole:
1. Assure that the album is downloaded from a popular torrent site, not a Pakistani P2P server.
2. Did the “album” leak months before it was supposed to? It’s probably a fake; Kanye’s been known to finish mixing a project the week of its release.
3. How big is the file you’re downloading? If it’s under 50 MB, it ain’t the rap masterpiece Yeezy has been known to drop.
4. Song titles should shock, like “I Am A God (feat. God)” – but should not directly offend, like “You Are An Idiot (For Downloading This)”.
5. The real deal should sound clear, like this one, “Midas Touch” …
… and a fake will sound more like this, a bag of garbage being dragged across the floor:
Now you know! And knowing is half the battle.