• What Could Have Been: Nas’ “In Rainbows” potential

The Original Cover, The One You Won’t See In Stores

So, Gregg Gillis, Mr. Girl Talk himself, has announced that his next release, the 300-plus (up from Night Ripper’s 250) sample party entitled Feed The Animals, is going to be a net-based pay what you want release, much like Radiohead’s In Rainbows, and while that makes sense for him, there’s another artist who I think should be going out there and releasing their music independently: Nas.

Of course the odds of this happening are nil since Mr. Jones just signed that deal with Def Jam which started with Hip Hop Is Dead. I assume he’s got the money in the bank to produce a whole album and videos, etc., but I may be wrong there. On the I-Just-Heard tip, though, Nas and Green Lantern just dropped the mixtape The Nigger Tape.

With statements like

“This record is about how the older generation looks down on us. … There’s a crew of older black people, [they’re] on their way out and we’re on our way up,” Nas said. “It looks like hip-hop n—as is about to make that Oprah money, and that’s scary to them.”
MTV Interview

you’d think that this would also be the prime opportunity to make a statement by doing things differently. Some grass-roots promotion, while still making bank. An artist like Nas doesn’t have to send promo copies, he could get reviews through listening parties to avoid as quick a leak as most artists would have to endure.

Further, I see three distinct advantages to a self release:

1) he could have had the freedom to call it whatever he wanted, and make it a true artistic statement record and not be tainted by Wal-Mart not wanting to sell anything controversial and Al Sharpton being so tight-assed.

2) this could have been that major career moment that he seems to keep striving for yet never quite pulling off, partially in thanks to the free press that he’d be getting for it, more than he even already is.

3) Not only could he do an online release, but the physical level sales could be done in any number of ways, from selective record stores getting Exclusives to guys who sell mix tapes on the street. This could be reverse psychology marketing, make it harder to get to drive up the demand. And hell, if Nas could afford it, he could have released a full studio quality album for free online with the purpose of getting it to as many people as possible, getting his message out there big time.

Luckily for us, though, despite the fact that this will not be happening I think the album will be able to stand on it’s own.


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