8 Diagrams by Wu Tang Clan

8 Diagrams, the conflicted comeback album from the Wu-Tang Clan, has leaked online. The version currently circulating bootleg sites features 16 full songs with a tracklisting slightly different from what’s available at the official Wu-Tang Store. This may or may not be the very final retail version but never the less it has enough material to warrant serious attention from the label and other stake holders.

In the three and change years that GRANDGOOD has been online, we haven’t taken an official position on mp3 leakage. We never really felt the need to do so because we did not consider ourselves an mp3 blog. With regards to audio distro, our unspoken policy has been to concentrate on distributing approved promo tracks, unreleased songs and out-of-print material. Of course this does not include our monthly audiocast which features nothing but new and upcoming releases. But the idea behind the monthly mix is that, although it includes unapproved tracks, the tracks are all mixed together in a way that if someone really wanted to add a particular song to their music collection, they would have to cop it from somewhere else. No one is going to cut up the audiocast to get one song and if they do they’ll get a version with a messed up intro and outro. So basically, it is our way of bootlegging without really bootlegging. It is our way of sharing music with hardcore fans that are willing to download entire mixes just to listen to a few songs they are interested in.

Well, here’s the deal. Slowly but surely I’ve come to the conclusion that the interweb’s black market for music distribution has advanced to the point of no return. What I mean by that is, whether or not industry executives (like Dupri) try to hold on to their traditional forms of distribution, unless there is government intervention, the online community of music fans will not cease to download music. And their numbers will only continue to grow. This must have been obvious for some people since the beginning but I always had that doubt in my mind that maybe the industry would be successful in lobbying politicians to draft laws that would force the ISPs and hosting companies to crackdown on their subscribers. I just don’t see that happening now. The only question left in my mind is, what will the approved avenues of digital distribution begin to do to compete? Will the MBAs and other suits ever prevail? And also, which avenues will take the lion’s share? Will it be individual mp3 blogs? Will it be official retailers like iTunes? Will it be community driven sites like Mysp*ce?

I have a dream that one day an online retailer will develop a model that will be based on shared-revenue. Basically a method of distributing music through widgets that can be placed on individual blogs as easily as adding an advertisement. This way people can continue to share music, continue to support artists and have a practical incentive for reasonable compensation (I think $0.99 is still too high for a single, but once the veteran labels are out of the picture, the price should be able to drop significantly). Anyway, what does all this have to do with the Wu-Tang Clan? Nothing really. It just so happens this is a significant release for rap music, both in an indie sense and a pop-music sense. This is because the Wu, although no longer at their height, have a strong following in both realms.

When I first learned the album had leaked and I saw it posted on a relatively popular site I thought it was f*cked up. How could you claim to support the artist while giving away their product? Something they obviously had to struggle to put out? I dwelled on it all day and came to the conclusion that, if the Wu (or Bodog or SRC) were in line with their consumer’s expectations, they would have been first to market and released the album digitally in a convenient manner, thereby cutting the throats of the bootleg sites. Basically, they are failing to compete with the interweb’s advanced methods of distribution. So, without further ado, and echoing Anticon, with the Advancement Of Digital Distribution In Mind (A.D.D.M. for short), GRANDGOOD is honored to present the unofficial, official retail version of 8 Diagrams, recorded in strife by the Wu-Tang Clan. Spread this link if you agree the record labels and artists still need a kick in the ass to figure this whole online thing out. Thanks. Link

Bootleg Tracklisting:

01 Campfire
02 Take it back
03 Get them out ya way pa
04 Rushing elephants
05 Unpredictable
06 The heart gently weeps
07 Wolves
08 Gun will go
09 Sunlight
10 Stick me for my riches
11 Starter
12 Windmill
13 Weak spot
14 Life changes
15 Tar pit
16 16th chamber (O.D.B Tribute)