Yup, Lupe's LP leaked. Van damn! Well shit happens in hip-hop when a bloodthirsty rap fan from every corner is adamant about getting his hands on the hot product before his homies. Truth be told, getting my grip on the new shit before anyone else is the reason I got into the rap journalism game in the first place. Back in the days, record labels would try to soothe the savage beast and send out advance cassettes usually a month before the record release. And when they didn't send them, I sometimes stole them. Ah, the memories. I got you Ur-sher, here are my confessions:

Nas Illmatic
Two years in the rap game, a young YN was lounging in the offices of Columbia Records. He was there to approve some Danny Clinch press shots for the cover of the debut issue of ego trip magazine. But all he had on his mind was snagging a copy of Illmatic before its release. Finally when the publicist left the room he jacked a copy off his desk. Later back at his mama's house, the young eager beaver called the rap mag on the other side of the nation, Cali's Rap Pages who he knew had a Bobbito-written cover coming soon. Hoping to get in where he fit in, he was shocked when he phoned the editors over there and they revealed they didn't have a copy in their possession. He was offered a review, he took it and it ran as sidebar to the historic cover story. Look it up, geeks! And send an old man a JPEG of the clip, I can't find the shit.

De La Soul Buhloone Mind State
Concerned with pesky bootleggers Tommy Boy sent a few select copies of De La Soul's third LP complete with gun shots (sike!), it was donkey noises strategically placed in the mix. I think it was lifted from a Police Academy movie I caught on HBO one night. Actually, the album sounded better with the fuckin' noises.

Ghostface Iron Man
This advance contained the real "Box In Hand" song that I'm sure you can find on Limewire. It also had different mixes of "Iron Maiden," "All I Got Is You" and a few other songs. Tape is still laying in the et office somewhere. I hope.

A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders
Back in the days, Jive Records was on some shit. It was a Quest press day and journalists were allowed to go on one floor and listen to new album and then go upstairs to intv group. Then each writer would be given a sampler of album as a parting gift. Well Q-Tip fell asleep during my intv which pissed me off so before I exited building I lifted the master copy and put it in the sampler labeled cassette case and bounced. A few hours later at my mama's house I get a call from an irate publcist. "Elliott did you take a copy of the real album?" "Naw, wait let me check my backpack." Meanwhile, I'm feverishly dubbing a copy in my Maxell cassette deck. "Oh shit, damn, I'm sorry. I took it by mistake. I'll bring it back to your office," I insisted. Don't remember if I ever did.

Alkaholiks Coast To Coast
This version contained Erick Sermon instead of Q-Tip on the song "All The Way Live." An outraged 'Liks made the switch when they got wind that E-Double spit the same verse on a song from Keith Murray's debut LP. Shame on you, E!

Notorious B.I.G. Ready To Die
Got my hands on this bad boy when I pulled double duty interviewing Frank White for et and Urb. Yup, it had the uncleared sample, superior version of "Me and My Bitch" which stayed in constant rotation in my Sony Walkman. Original version of album also didn't have "Big Poppa." It's clear Puff made the nigga go back in and make a second single.
Interesting tidbit from intv was when I asked Big about weed he insisted we talk off the record. I was unaware at the time but he had just tied the knot with Faye and Big told me this funny story about how he likes to get blunted while he fucks. I promised I wouldn't blow him up but then he fucked around and put it in a song. ("Smoke L's while you do me," from, you guessed it, "Big Poppa")

Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
I was pleased as punch that when I got my hands on this pre-Purple tape and it was better than I even thought it could be. At the time I was assigned an article for Rap Pages for a joint GZA/Raekwon feature ("Soon to get an article in Rap Page." Yup, that's me!) but Shallah probably deserved his own piece. Advance copy was same as released version but I just thought I throw this story out there to show you how cool I am. Thanks for paying attention and continuing to cosign my genius.

P.S. As memory serves, I spent a lot of time at the Tommy Boy offices stealing their demo tapes of rappers trying to get signed to their label: Sadat X, Mic Geronimo, Da Youngstas, Gravediggaz… Couldn't get my hands on Wu-Tang, though (And to this day, I only have shitty quality version of it). Shout out to BA Makabi for having a weak bladder.