The Lupe Fiasco "Shining Down" Leak: Point, Counterpoint

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Lupe Fiasco's new "Shining Down," the hyper-lyrical first single destined for his forthcoming Lasers, leaked in full quality today, to some considerable controversy. In response to the song's rapid transit around the internet, Fiasco posted an outraged statement to the comments section of the LupE.N.D. blog that read in part:

    I DONT LEAK MY OWN RECORDS!!! I'M NOT A FAN OF LEAKING RECORDS OR OF DOWNLOADING!!! My entire first album leaked and possibly cost me from going platinum my first time out as the final estimates of how many people actually downloaded that album illegally was well over half a million. So how do u think i feel that everytime i come to this site where my "fans" are i see you putting up links to download my records???...I dont care about the other sites. I care about where my real fans are supposed to be active. If you come across it and you like it and keep it to yourself thats all cool with me but to make it where as other people are able to download it in a public forum is honestly an insult to me. Especially because of how much i love you guys. that shit is kinda like a slap in the face.

Lupe has a point--two very different versions of Food & Liquor, his first album, circulated all over the place, and the gap between when that record first emerged onto the internet and when Atlantic finally got it together to release it felt like an eternity. So of any artist, Fiasco has one of the best claims re: being legitimately wounded by illegal downloading.

He's also insanely particular about his songs and his image--this is a guy who famously threatened to quit rap because, at the age of 25, he had already found too much success and was therefore bored. So leaks, among other things, fuck with some pretty elaborate self-presentation:

    Everytime i get the urge to do something new for my fans I go online and see "new unreleased lupe" from 6 years ago and i shrug and just say fuck it. Things like that fuck up the real plans and the mood. You dont just throw out bunch of records for the sake of having a bunch of records out. I dont operate like that as an artist. Some records aren't even meant to come out....

    Someone hacked my email. I was about to fire my entire staff and cut off relationships over shining down leaking last night. Bun B hit me and was like "the records dope" and i was like "what record?" nobody even has it. the only possible explanation is my email chain with the mix studio (which is air tight...the studio that is) was hacked and thats where the record came from.

It makes sense that Bun B would fall for "Shining Down." Lupe may float off into weird backpacker hemispheres at times, but some of the lyrics here--like the impossibly polysyllabic, internally-rhymed "We're trapped, and moving round in circles like it's ChapStick/ And that's the same encircled way of thinking that we chat with/ When rappers surround your head like the bandanas Fabolous used to wrap his hats with"--are pretty hard to argue with.

Anyway, Lupe's team is apparently on a real cease-and-desist tear. Nah Right's Eskay got one (or the polite request that preceeds one, anyway), which, though he took the song down, prompted him to go on a mini tear on Twitter about artists getting mad at the wrong people:

    rappers: song's leak, and you there's nothing you can do about it. asking me to take it down, doesn't mean it didn't leak.

    I know, the shit wasn't finished yet, marketing plan wasn't finalized, etc. it don't matter, just take the L.

    I wanna see artists prosper, I just don't think chasing iTunes sales and deading mp3 leaks is necessarily the best way to do it.

    artists gotta understand where i'm coming from too though I show respect, take shit down, and now I'm the only asshole without the song up.

    'cause you know you're not gonna ask fuckboy.blogspot.com to take the shit down, 'cause you never heard of him. just saying.

As Eskay says, the same high profile that leads Fiasco's label to ask Nah Right to remove the song could and does otherwise benefit the artist--every time Nah Right posts something on Lupe, a few thousand people are reminded that that guy still exists. Especially when he's got an actually good song behind him. Lasers is still off in the distant '09 future, and it's understandable that Fiasco not want any evidence of the record out in the world at this point and time. But "Shining Down" is out, now, and rather than playing whack-a-mole with bloggers--of whom there will forever be too many to successfully shut down--Lupe might think about crossing his fingers and praying that people just out-and-out like the song, now then or whenever.

Lupe Fiasco - Shining Down f. Matthew Santos [CDQ] [2DopeBoyz]
Lupe Talks About The Shining Down Leak [The LupE.N.D.]


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