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I Refuse to Listen to Leaked Albums, Here's Why [Bonus Podcast]

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I hear the ding that notifies a direct message has been received, the third one today, a Zippyshare link to download J.Cole’s Forest Hills Drive. I feel like a teenager practicing abstinence in Amsterdam. With only a day until the release, temptation is in the air. My generation has it easy, downloading music is practically the birthright of anyone with WiFi, so why resist? Why wait?

When it comes to music, music I truly want to support, I want a deeper connection than just downloading the album a week early. There’s no feeling in going to Spotify, no connection with Mediafire. I love the anxiousness; it reminds me of Christmas Eve, when it was the longest day of the year, clocks moving on turtle time. Waiting for that album you’re anticipating, knowing it will be all new music, it’s like being a kid again.  

Nothing is better than a Tuesday morning, with weather in the high 70s, windows down and a tank full of gas. I’ve been going to the same Best Buy for years, about twenty minutes away from home, spending the drive blasting the artist's previous album, possibly the better mixtape, with anticipation building at every red light, and eagerness at every stop sign. There’s a feeling of triumphant once you have it in your hand, as the cashier tells you that it’s been flying off the shelves. I remember when I purchased Oxymoron; my cashier took one look at the cover, a look that seemed frightened crossed her face and I knew her virgin, country pop ears weren’t ready for whatever awaited me in my car.   

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Unwrap the plastic, break the seal, eject, inject, and then fly out the parking lot. Find the nearest interstate and let your wings spread for about five or six exits, while you got this album pulsating out of the speakers. It’s an experience, all the interactions just to acquire this sound, finally freed from the prison of waiting, and the feeling is rewarding. Your hands on the wheel swerving through traffic, the beat knocking as you accelerate, hearing all the lyrics you can’t wait to quote, skipping the radio single that was played out months ago, unable to tweet, unable to text, just you and this intimate moment with the album.  

If I download it, I probably won’t buy it. It’s easier to purchase a product that is new, that I haven’t spent the last seven days indulging. You don’t unwrap a Christmas gift on the 15th, play with it until the 22th, and re-warp it expecting a surprise on the 25th. It’s about giving sentimental value to your possession. Even when I buy albums through iTunes, I'd rather have that physical copy experience – one the internet isn’t able to recreate.  

My current car doesn’t have a CD player; the aux chord has been the medium for music since I got this model. I almost slapped my baby cousin last week when he reached for the aux to play "Firing Squad," and I couldn’t allow him to ruin my abstinence. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever understand; he’s 17, and proficient with downloading. Bank accounts just don’t have enough in them to allow the luxury of mass purchases, so I understand when the funds are low, that needs trump wants. I considered buying 2014Forest Hills Drive from iTunes at midnight, but the album booklet might convince me otherwise. It's the little things, the small additions, that make waiting for the physical CD worthwhile. I do challenge listeners to give it a try, take it back old-school, resist the freebies, find that special album from your favorite artist and wait for the full experience. I believe that Jermaine won’t let me down, that trust makes waiting to hear the full project on December 9th an event. This is how he wanted it and that’s exactly what I intend to do. 

[Editor's Note: I wanted to understand Yoh's point of view better, which is a nice way of saying that I think he's slightly insane, so I called him and we hashed it out in a Bonus Points podcast. - Nathan S.]

[By Yoh, aka Mr. Buy Yo Albums, aka @Yoh31]

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