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The Shift in Attitude Towards Leaked Music

Mike “The Visionary” Cotton

In recent years, snippets and leaked music have become quite popular within the rap industry.  From the late 1990’s and all throughout the early 2000’s leaked songs were often frowned upon by the original creator. As I mentioned before in a previous blog post, prior to its release, Nas’ 1999 album I Am was supposed to be a double album. Unfortunately for Nas, some of the songs were leaked, which resulted in Nas only using sixteen tracks for the album. Nowadays, there are artists that tend to accept when their music’s been leaked, especially when their fans love it. As a concertgoer I’ve noticed that artists capitalize off of their popular leaked music during their live shows. In most cases, they’ll perform certain leaked songs (along with snippets of future releases) and still won’t release it.

This is honestly a smart tactic, simply due to the fact that fans will be more willing to attend a show from artists that do this because they won’t only be able to listen to their favorite songs live, but they also get the opportunity to experience a moment in which they get to hear something exclusive that many other fans may not be aware of. This method of artists accepting that their music has been leaked is also smart because if the artist were to release a popular leak onto their next album, their fans would hear that track on the album, yet it wouldn’t have the same spark it did when they first listened to it as a leak. For instance, one of my favorite leaked songs is Young Nudy’s “Pissy Pamper” featuring Playboi Carti. During the spring of 2019,  “Pissy Pamper” was performed at Coachella, then unofficially uploaded to Spotify, and not too long after that “Pissy Pamper” was at the top of the Spotify U.S. viral 50 chart. Despite how much love the song got, and how much their fans have urged them to release the song due to its popularity, it’s still not released and is still recognized as one of the best songs that both Young Nudy and Playboi Carti have ever done. If this song were to have been released and put on an album that same year, the spark of the song wouldn’t have been the same.

The shift in attitude from artists towards leaked music has honestly made this era of rap music all the more interesting. I’ve been to a Nas concert and watched him perform the same exact songs that I can listen to on my phone at any given time. Two years ago, I went to an A$AP Rocky concert; and not only did I listen to the popular songs by him that a majority of his fans already love, but I also had the opportunity to watch him perform two leaked songs and one unreleased song that was released a couple of months later. Although there are crazy fans out there that are more than willing to leak their favorite artist’s music, a majority of the fans attending shows live to experience those moments where they’re listening to something many people haven’t heard before. It’s a beautiful thing to encounter.

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