Update: Purchase and STREAM Kanye's new "The Life Of Pablo" album here.
An album has two release dates. There's the day when sales start to be recorded and physical copies are purchased and then there’s the day it actually comes out.
Leaks have become the industry standard, it’s almost expected at this point. Remember when To Pimp A Butterfly (the biggest album of 2015) leaked? What about 2014 Forest Hills Drive? Shit, even Yeezus leaked way back when. And of course we are all too familiar with Rihanna’s leak debacle. I mean, there's literally a site dedicated to leaks. It’s the seemingly inherent nature of a business with so many moving parts.
With albums being WeTransfered to others for mixing, to labels for approval and sample clearances, to streaming companies for hosting, physical copies shipped, and just how easy it is for someone at a studio to grab a zip drive, leaks are unavoidable.
Unless your name is Kanye West.
Between calling women bitches and shutting down MSG to debut that little album he's been making headlines for these past 24 hours, nobody’s talked about one Kanye-related thing. Can we talk about that one thing?
How has this shit not leaked?
When you think about this album and the buzz surrounding it, the fact that it hasn't leaked is a miracle. For leakers, this album is the Holy Grail right now. Think of how many people were in and out of studio sessions? I mean, Andre 3000 brought a random Uber driver into the studio for fucks sake. Every single one of those people is a potential leaker, and yet nothing.
At first I thought maybe the album he played yesterday off his phone was the only copy, but it's not hard to imagine in planning the huge MSG event that Kanye would need to let people like his visual and lighting designers hear the project, right? And we know the album's still being worked on.
Yesterday, Vic Mensa's management tweeted that "Wolves" wasn't final yet (and then promply deleted that tweet). Could it be? Could Yeezy really be running such a tight ship that he and GOOD Music exec Virgil Abloh really do have the only copies in existence and they're not letting those copies out of their sight? This feels less like an album release and more like a James Bond movie.
This might be Kanye’s most impressive feat so far. We know he likes to keep things under lock and key, but the fact that the final version of this album, one of the most anticipated albums of the past few years, one which has its every move well-documented, has not leaked is remarkable.
Maybe Kanye really is our Lord and Savior? He's clearly got someone looking out for him.
[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. Art via Matt Reuter. Enjoy more of his work here.]