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.  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  – 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:
 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’!
 Oddly enough, both appear on the UK release.