Thursday, November 29, 2007
Men's Health 2008 Tech Guide: Lupe Fiasco
I'll never know definitively who leaked Food and Liquor. That hurt, man. The music is the most important thing—not the videos, not the interviews, not the sponsorships. So when it leaked, that woke me up. It let me know that people really wanted the album. But it also made me wonder how good the album could have been if I'd had a chance to finish it.
With my next album, Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, I have a system to protect myself. It's like a safe-deposit box, with two keys you have to turn at the same time. There's only one place where all the pieces of the new album are in one spot: on two LaCie hard drives in Chicago. And only me and my engineer, Greg Magers, have access. Not the record company, not anybody. I have a real serious trust thing going with him. He understands what it meant for Food and Liquor to leak.
I still have to send things out to other producers, other rappers. But everything's in pieces now—two songs at this studio, half a song at this studio, maybe a beat over here. If any of those pieces leak, you can figure out what happened. And you won't lose everything. Because it doesn't matter what you're trying to control. If someone wants it bad enough, you can't stop it. You just want to find the source, so you can kill it.
There's a difference between album songs leaking and the viral stuff. I look at it as dual campaigns: a viral campaign and then an official, deliberate campaign in which the label is actually spending money. I don't believe in using BitTorrent or file sharing to steal music. But I think it's dope when people go and get the viral stuff.
I did a song with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams called "Us Placers." In 2 days, it went from Kanye's mix tape—online, for free—to all over the world, to MTV news headlines, to reviews in Rolling Stone. That was just the strength of the record. Personally, I appreciate when I'm getting something for free, so I make sure I go out and buy the stuff people are actually trying to sell.