Chance, "Surf" & Fan Insanity in the Age of Surprise Albums - DJBooth

Chance, "Surf" & Fan Insanity in the Age of Surprise Albums

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I woke up the other day and felt something in the air. Was it the pollen count? No, though my watery eyes would say otherwise. Was it the faint smell of dissipating weed? Yes, but that's par for the course. No, this was something else, a feeling that was uncommon and undeniable. I felt a special electricity that had made its way into the gallows of my Chiptole-filled tummy.

That would finally be the day Surf would drop. I knew it. 

For the past week, I have been on Surf Defcon 1. I've been refreshing Donnie Trumpet's SoundCloud constantly and would occasionally check Chance's too. After all, he's the one who said it would drop this week. My obsession with #Surf makes Lil B's #GirlTimeUSA look like child's play. By Thursday it had reached a fever pitch. Sure, I had Oddisee's album, sure Knxwledge's album was there too, and let's not forget about Snoop-A-Loop, but all I could think about was Surf. I needed it. It's why I sent Chance and Donnie a gif ever hour or so. I was going to will this album onto the internet if it killed me, and it almost did. 

As the sun began to set on the day, I realized what I was doing was ineffective and borderline clinically insane. I had to admit that I was a grown man tweet-spamming two other grown men and I had to force myself to go on with my life. After all, there were rent checks to drop off, groceries to buy and dogs to walk. I tried as hard as I could, but I came up short. Still, I left it all on the field, I'd live to fight another day. But just as I had finished willing my thirst away, I pulled up to a red light, did a Twitter check and I saw this.

Holy shit! Holy shit! Sweet baby Jesus, holy shit! I let out a little yelp - half orgasm, half getting a Razor scooter on my 10th birthday - and immediately called Nathan. I couldn't wait to break the news. With his kid jumping on a trampoline in the background of our phone call, we plotted how we would break the internet.

"I'm tied up monitoring this trampoline playdate," Nathan said. "A 1 Listen Review is all yours if you want it. You want it?"

"Hell fucking yeah I do," I responded.

I could see it now. Penning an amazing review inspired by a revolutionary project, sitting back with popcorn, watching analytics rise like Rick Ross' cholesterol level after a Taco Bell binge, and counting the pageviews that would be rolling in to the tune of Donnie's trumpet. What a way to spend a Thursday night. I envisioned Chance and Donnie calling to tell me how my gifs were the driving force behind the release, how amazing my review was, how I was now an honorary member of their clique; the Cappadonna of SaveMoney. I hadn't eaten since lunch, but food wasn't important. I passed by three Chipotle's but never even thought about stopping. I ran red lights. I may or may not have hit three mailboxes...were those mailboxes? I didn't have time to check. Had I gotten pulled over, I would have demanded a police escort home because I have to protect and serve too.

I parked haphazardly, rushed to my door, and flubbed with my keys. You know how in horror movies the people being chased can't seem to function as normal human beings - can't open doors, can't find the right key? I used to laugh but now I totally understand. I thought about how Donnie first stole my heart at a Kids These Days show. I thought about how I've listened to "Juice" more than any other song in the last three years. Finally. FINALLY all of the fandom, all of the articles, everything I had ever done culminated here; before this my life was pure and utter shit. I flung open my computer with so much force I thought I might break it in two. Surf was here! It was time! I dove into the spiraling Twitter tornado. I was ready.

Surf never dropped...

If you ever see those crazy people yelling about god, Obama, and the apocalypse on a street corner and wonder how they got there, I think you'll find my tweet sequence from last night very informative. You can literally trace my descent into madness.

First, I couldn't find a link, but still assumed it dropped, or was going to any minute:

A part of me knew then and there that it wasn't going to happen, but I couldn't let go:

I begged and groveled:

I started to lose hope for real this time:

I can only express my thoughts, feelings and desires through gifs:

As a "journalist" I always try to maintain some aspect of professionalism, but I love music too much to try and play it cool. The day I'm not a fan first is the day I quit:

A few hours and four gifs later:

Midnight was the new time according to randoms on Twitter; I was so sprung I believed 'em. It's amazing the way your brain will suspend rational thinking when you really want something. Midnight rolls around and:

Then I was informed it wasn't midnight in the Chi, so I waited around until 1:30. Gotta give him a half-and hour grace period right?

I went to bed tired, hungry, alone and Surf-less. Thank god for Oddisee. If I didn't have that album I may have gone on revenge mission that would make Liam Neeson's voice tremble.

Before bed though, I tried to find the source of this leak. I had to know who was responsible. Maybe it's this Kanyetothe forum, maybe it's a random tweet (like this one) that spiraled out of control. I'm sure Reddit had something to do with it too. By the end of the night I felt like Charlie in the mailroom.

I woke up refreshed, sad and determined, ready to find out who gave me musical blue balls. Unfortunately, the internet moves too fast to track anything and it's too easy to get swept up in the hype. There's no accountability, no ramifications for filling the feed with pure and utter bullshit. Trying to find the source is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except instead of a needle it's a piece of bullshit and instead of a hay it's a stack of more bullshit.  

I'm convinced nobody wanted Surf more than me (well, maybe Aaron who was sharing in my misery all night), but like with To Pimp A Butterfly, most of these people didn't want Surf because they've watched "Zion" a million times, they wanted to start a rumor for the sake of followers or retweets. If they are right, they can make their conjecture look like an "inside source," they can brag about it. If they are wrong they don't apologize, don't say they were wrong, they merely go on with their internet lives like nothing happened. But I'm no longer concerned with who turned me into a chicken with its head cut off (at least that's what I'm telling myself). I'm more concerned with why I felt the way I did in the morning. Before the rumors, before the gifs, why did I feel like I needed Surf? Why did I feel entitled to something I had no right to be entitled to?

Social media is an incredible force, it connects us with artists who would otherwise never know we exist. It gives a face to the face in the crowd. To even think Black Thought read my words is amazing. I saw myself that close to Donnie and Chance. If Black Thought saw my tweets, maybe they would too. Before Twitter, Kanyetothe and Reddit, before Beyonce and Drake albums started falling from the sky without warning, we read a release date in a magazine, circled it on the calendar and camped outside of Best Buy. We had no choice, no influence, no say in the matter. We were completely passive recipients. Now, all it takes is 1000 retweets and we have a new song. We have an agency in the music like never before and with independent artists like Chance, an artist who seems so normal, so close to us, that sense of agency increases ten fold. We aren't passive anymore, instead we are active participants in making music history. It's remarkable. It's amazing. It's also very, very dangerous. It's how expectations get out of control, bloggers go crazy, fans get offended.

Think of how many tweets there were about Surf that night. Not one, I repeat, NOT ONE SINGLE TWEET, came from Chance or Donnie. No cryptic, illusive tweets, no Vines, nothing. They literally said nothing, and yet we were all convinced Surf was imminent. We thought we could will it out. Do they know about the rumor? I can picture Chance scarfing down Junior Mints and watching the new Avengers while the internet goes crazy, his phone lighting up in his pocket as Thor drops the hammer. Then emerging from the movie, checking his phone and seeing how many people were disappointed that he didn't give them something he never said he was going to give them. 

Here's a crazy thought; what if Surf isn't ready? What if they are waiting on a guest verse form Kendrick that will make us flip our shit? What if Donnie doesn't like his horn section on the "All Day (Remix)"? If they had caved into the pressure and released it early, when it wasn't finished, my 1 Listen Review would reflect that and I would be unhappy. I'd call it sloppy or unfinished. I see that it's a trap for artists. Fans demand perfection, transcendent art, and they demand it NOW. 

I could end this with, "let's give artists space and time to create," and that'd be true. But as fans I also think it's ok to want an album so bad you think you can hashtag it into existence. We love music. We're excited. We're anxious. There's nothing wrong with wanting more music, the key is finding a balance between art and time, business and pleasure, our demands and the artist's supply. What exactly that balance looks like I don't know, but I know it's nothing like my night last night.

Seriously though, where the fuck is Surf?

[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth]

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