In 2013, Jai Paul soundtracked an entire summer by complete accident. Paul’s debut release of catchy, sample-driven pop may have garnered acclaim and attention, but the real kicker is that he didn’t even release it. Though the singer had long stayed silent over how, exactly, his debut release unofficially surfaced, he did clarify at the time that he had nothing to do with it:
To confirm: demos on bandcamp were not uploaded by me, this is not my debut album. Please don't buy. Statement to follow later. Thanks, Jai
— Jai Paul (@jai_paul) April 15, 2013
Six years later, though, and we’ve finally been blessed with an official release of the debut (in addition to some truly incredible new Paul tunes). The official release of Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)—Paul’s retroactively-titled debut—isn’t just the capstone to a story over half a decade in the making, but a throwback to a past era of music consumption.
In the age of Spotify and surprise releases, it’s pretty simple for music fans to resign themselves to entirely-legal means of musical consumption (even if the artist compensation is questionable). Back in the wild west days of the early internet, though, whether you armed yourself with LimeWire or BitTorrent as your weapon of choice, album leaks were the cornerstone of any music lover’s lifestyle, and it upset the shit out of artists and the music industry as a whole—for numerous reasons.
Whether you were hunting Radiohead albums months before they dropped or hyping Lupe Fiasco’s debut, we’ve highlighted 11 historic album leaks that defined the filesharing days of yore.