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Posse Revival: The Leaks Heard ‘Round The World


It’s been a while since we’ve brought the Posse back but in light of Kanye’s recent leak out/freak out I decided to revisit this short post about my years as a teenage bootlegger and the two most memorable leaks of those years. This was originally posted at that other site on September 27, 2006, around the same time Lupe, irrelevant, was facing leakage issues similar to what Kanye’s been going through. Nullus, natch.

So I’ve been told that the commercial version of Lupe’s new after school special album pales in comparison to the original internet leak. Not being a bootlegging thief anymore, I wouldn’t know. But I wasn’t always as pure of morals as I am now. Like Lupe Little himself, I have a shameful criminal history that predates my days as an honorable member of the hip hop media. And it’s about time I come clean (no Jeru).

I was once… a bootleger.

Pause tapes aside, I’m sadly too young to remember the glory days of bootleging – sneaking tapes out of listening parties and such. By the time I was old enough to steal for profit, bootlegging was about to go digital. But when it did, like many an entrepreneurial youth, I saved up for a CD burner and got my Randy Wagstaff on, slanging Memorex for $5 a pop. [1] Join me as I reminisce on two watershed moments in internet leakage, coincidentally belonging to the formerly feuding kings of New York:

Nas I Am… (Columbia, 1999)
Originally planned as a double disc release, Columbia sent a 13 track sampler of I Am… to the press. And some industrious individual had the sense to upload it to the internet. Predating Napster, it was one of, if not the first, full length albums I remember downloading on Mp3.

The albums lead single, “Nas Is Like” was creating a lot of Nasty Nas is back… Escobar is dead buzz amongst Nas stans and the introspective nature of many cuts on the bootleg were backing that up. But reality struck when the retail I Am… was released some four months later. “Nas is Like” was merely a street single to complement the bloated “Hate Me Now.” The album was trimmed to only one disc. And just three of the weaker songs from the advance remained. The album had it’s moments, but it paled in comparison to the one that existed in our heads. Still this was an ideal scenario for the bootleggers – sell the CDs as the new Nas album to the real heads a few months early, then sell the retail version AND then advance, now rebranded as The Death of Escobar, when the actual album drops. Double the dollars.

I remember at the time I heard this I thought it was the second best Nas album of all time, but in revisiting it, I’m not so sure. I mean what is going on with this “Stay Dreamin’ Stay Schemin’,” the origins of singing Nas? “Wanna Play” is more respectable.

Years later, many of the stronger tracks (”Fetus,” “Poppa Was a Player,” “Drunk By Myself”) would turn up on the officially released Lost Tapes. Click here for the full I Am… advance tracklisting, and where those tracks eventually ended up.

Jay-Z Vol. 3: The Life & Times of S. Carter (Def Jam, 1999)
The leak of my favorite Jay album was notable less for it’s musical content than the circumstances surrounding it. It was the follow up to Jay’s biggest album to date, and was a big money maker on the bootleg circuit. But behind the scenes things were not all good.

Allegedly, Lance “Un” Rivera (the poor man’s Irv Gotti) was responsible for the leak. Jay (or his man, no ayo?) did what any self respecting artist would have in the pre-internet era and stabbed Un at a Q-Tip release party. The subsequent trial led to a flurry of press and a great video with R. Kelly. That said there were a few tracks on the leak that didn’t make the American retail [2] – a bonus “Hova’s Song” interlude verse and this early version of “Is That Yo Bitch” with Twista and Missy, a record that Jay would eventually hand down to his little buddy Bleek:

[1] Imagine Momma Noz’s confusion/anger when another mother
called up and said “My son says that I don’t have to buy CD’s anymore,
since I can get them from your son.” Stop snitchin’!
[2] Oddly enough, both appear on the UK release.

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25 Responses to “Posse Revival: The Leaks Heard ‘Round The World”

  1. Ivan Says:

    My man… I used to buy Memorex spindles at the Office Depot near school, burn them and flip them within a week. Made a killing. Good times. Shhhhh.

  2. benjy Says:

    i used to do this but with porn. super squirters was number one request. chasey lain 4 pack was a hot one too.

  3. D Says:

    i know you’ve been saying it for a while, but have you noticed the influx of people recently claiming vol. 3 as their favorite jay albums?

  4. scjoha Says:

    Noz, do you remember which year and month I Am and Vol. 3 leaked? Or what time of year, summer or winter? ’98 and/or ’99?
    And what was the tracklisting of the Vol. 3 leak?

  5. Stevo Tandarts Says:

    Hey thanks for this a little good post. But I still do not understand the first part though!

  6. Tony Gwynn Says:

    If you bootleg ya get ya leg broke…!

  7. nico Says:

    man… 1999 junior high bootlegin but me and my boys shit!

    we burnt new albums and computer games and in our spare time robbed vending machines with the help of txts like the anarchist cookbook. I fucking counterfeited that year too man! Broken windows, graffiti, my old buddy sellin spice channel vhs’ for ten bucks… i had the whitehouse.com porn password for 20 bucks… unlimited membership! That was the hustle… small town america too

    bootlegin rules and defines a big year in my adolescence!

    rock on bitches!

  8. Rap Round Table, Week Ending 10/1/2010 Says:

    […] Posse Revival: The Leaks Heard ‘Round The World by Andrew Noz […]

  9. Peak Street Magazine Says:

    My bootleggin career started with the same two artists, but Illmatic and Reasonable Doubt were the two tapes getting dubbed so hardcore the fuzz was unavoidable on the TDK’s doing the rounds of the schoolyard.

  10. david Says:

    bootlegger till i die ESPECIALLY with whack ass new york rap.

  11. nico Says:

    dam cbrap is ded?

  12. Matt Says:

    Thanks for the Twitter linking. Respect.

  13. omfgtom Says:

    Haha i wish you would just post something. anything. something pointless. please. im sick of this being at the top of the site.

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  15. nico Says:

    wtf mayn. hungry over here. we love you andrew


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  17. 5 grand Says:

    You forgot to mention the Murda Musik bootleg. That was around the same time as the Nas I Am… bootleg.

    I was living in Harlem at the time and I can remember the song “I Will Survive” was getting heavy play on the mixtape circuit before the LP dropped. I can remember when Hate Me Now came out on the radio. Funkmaster Flex must have played it 3 times in a row.

    Also, there were a bunch of Mackavelli bootlegs. One of my roommates had Mackavelli part 6 or 7. I wasn’t much of a 2pac fan at the time but I had to admit that some of the stuff was hot. Looking back I wish I had copped all of those Mackavelli bootlegs because now all of those songs have been remixed with different beats. Its unimaginable why anybody would want to listen to 2Pac’s vocals over a different beat than the original beat he was rapping to in the studio.

  18. nico Says:


  19. scjoha Says:

    “Apologies for the delay with the Pac series. There is really an overwhelming amount of information about this guy and I’ve been learning to swim in the deep end. But here we are back at the beginning with no rarities at all, just a quick post about “Same Song.” But with more to follow. Regularly, I promise.”

    Patiently Waiting.

  20. bk Says:


  21. Josefine Cassada Says:

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  22. Alf Says:

    I would just like to say that I stumbled across your website by accident (I was actually googling for information on a software called DUBturbo) but I have officially become addicted to reading your work

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  23. SonnyFromBronxTale Says:

    The I Am… double disc woulda been hot, but it its good share of filler tracks like Pac & Big’s did. Still, it woulda made him have 3 straight hot albums, but he wouldnt have made a Stillmatic afterwards.

    Btw I wish I had the Makaveli originals, like the “Toss It Up” on the beat later used for “No Diggity”

  24. bbk Says:

    The original 13 track “I Am” promo was actually leaked to the internet on 12/13/1998. Here is the tracklist:

    01. Fetus (Belly Button Window) (later on The Lost Tapes)
    02. Small World (later on I Am…)
    03. Money Is My Bitch (later on I Am…)
    04. Project Window (later on Nastradamus)
    05. Poppa Was A Player (later on The Lost Tapes)
    06. Dr. Knockboots (Do’s And Don’t) (later on I Am…)
    07. Day Dreamin’ Stay Schemin
    08. Sometimes I Wonder
    09. HardestThingToDoIsStayAlive
    10. Drunk By Myself (later on The Lost Tapes)
    11. Wanna Play (later on Dame Grease’s “Live On Lenox” The Album)
    12. Blaze A 50 (later on The Lost Tapes)
    13. We Will Survive (later on I Am…)

    So only three remain unreleased to this day.

    The only “Death of Escobar” bootleg I am familiar with was released in 2001 and had some of the same tracks but the tracklist was as follows:

    1. Fetus
    2. Drunk By Myself
    3. Blaze A 50
    4. Gangsta Tears
    5. Just Another Day In The Projects
    6. Gotta Luv It
    7. I’m A Villain
    8. In Too Deep
    9. Poppa Was A Player
    10. Sometimes I Wonder
    11. Stay Schemin’
    12. Tales From The Hood
    13. Wanna Play Rough
    14. Everyday Thing (Feat. Dr. Dre & Nature)
    15. H. To The O.M.O. (Jay-Z Diss)

  25. kae the barber Says:

    thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you bbk been looking for this

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