Music is currently in a very interactive space with technology. Most hits that we hear nowadays aren’t a product of live instruments, but instead programming done on software. The influence of technology within music has especially impacted how we listen to it. Streaming and entertainment platforms have given us access to music we’re not even supposed to hear.
Now listen, I love leaks. The entirety of my saved music on SoundCloud is specifically unreleased music. Being tapped in with leaks just adds an extra element of appreciation towards the artists for me. Even though I reap the benefits of this relatively new culture within music, I have to say I feel bad sometimes. Part of me feels guilty for enjoying something that’s- more often than not- against the will of the artist.
I understand that I don’t have to feel guilty because it’s not like I’m the person with no life who’s hacking these artists and releasing their music. I can even make the argument that some artists benefit from their songs being leaked. Think of Playboi Carti. The “Pissy Pamper” (also known as, “Kid Cudi”) leak where he featured on a hook with Young Nudy was huge on social media in 2019. I heard that song so many times that I grew tired of it. So tired to the point that I didn’t even care if it dropped anymore. Regardless, I can’t deny the fact that it put a spotlight on Carti. It built strength in his fanbase and introduced a lot of new people to his sound because of the leak going viral. This goes to show that leaks can bring lots of attention to artists that they wouldn’t always be able to attract without them. Artists have even started to incorporate leaks in their album rollout plan. We all remember how Gunna had the TikTok in the palm of his hands at the beginning of 2022 with the “Banking on Me” snippet. With that creating a large amount of attention and publicity over his head, it ended up being the perfect scheme to promote his eventual album of the year contender, DS4EVER.
While everything I just mentioned may be true, when it comes to unreleased music I really do have to sympathize with the artists. There’s just so much time, effort, and vulnerability that goes into creating music. Music is a way for a lot of artists to express themselves in ways that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Creating an album is an extremely meticulous process that is strictly calculated by the artist in terms of what songs they want us to hear, in what order, and when they want us to hear them. Whether we think about these things or not, they all have a huge impact on how listeners react to new projects. New York rapper, MIKE, said in an interview with Clash that he wanted to drop his newest album, Beware of the Monkey, on December 21 because it was the coldest day of the year. He mentioned that this album was very heavy and emotional, and the winter weather had a direct correlation with the feel of the project. I say this to make the point that when songs are leaked, the creative process of the artist is impeded. A perfect example is Young Nudy, who just had 172 songs leaked to the public. As a Nudy fan, when my friend sent me the link to the playlist containing all the leaks, I couldn’t believe it. 172? We were eating good. But I just can’t shake the thought that this is years’ worth of work that got completely thrown out the window. Some of those songs could’ve been for an album he was planning to release soon that we probably won’t ever get to hear because every track was leaked. Leaks automatically take away the creative and literal control that artists should rightfully have over their music.
How do y’all feel about leaks? Is it helping or hurting music as a culture? Let’s talk about it, be sure to let us hear your take in the comments.