Around these parts, we focus a lot on when an album is dropping, because it determines when we’ll do a story on an artist, especially our cover subject. Common sense: if the person has an album coming out, they’ll be doing more promotion and developing buzz, people are checking for them and we’ll have easier access. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder and harder to gauge the buzz-worthiness of an artist because albums keep getting pushed back. Sometimes we end up going too early, which is just part of the business. Case in point: our Jan/Feb cover subject 50 Cent. Although Before I Self Destruct was due fourth quarter, it currently has no release date. And now Fif has more excitement around him thanks to this knee-slapping back-and-forth with Rick Ross.

That’s a different case. I’m talking about albums that are completed. Maino’s debut, Tomorrow Never Comes—possibly the most ironic title since Saigon’s The Greatest Story Ever Told—has been pushed back about three times. It’s now, allegedly, due in May. Tomorrow came and went like yesterday. Perhaps the record labels can enlighten me. Is this a financial thing? What’s the reasoning behind pushing back an album that’s already done? The project is completed. Presumably, the marketing and promotions is in place. At this point, people know who the fuck Maino is. He’s had about three singles, including one very popular one, “Hi Hater,” and a new song with T-Pain (“All The Above”), which is pretty much a guaranteed banger. Either people will buy his album or they won’t. What exactly will change the consumer’s mind between the original release date and the new release date? I’m about to make like Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Know What You Did Last Summer and scream, “What are you waiiiittting foooor?!”

Pushed back albums are so much of an epidemic in hip-hop now that we don’t even think about it anymore. It’s not as much of an issue in other genres, and it wasn’t as noticeable a trend in past eras. I don’t remember hearing about many albums being pushed back in the ’90s. As a regular fan, not yet a journalist, I looked forward to a release date and that date rarely changed. If labels are waiting for the perfect climate, the perfect climate doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no telling what type of album or artist will sell and why, so if the album is done, put it out, release singles and move along, or just stop giving us release dates.

Maybe you fans don’t care as much because you download the albums anyway. Me too (I buy the ones I’d like to own), but the longer the album takes, the longer the leak takes. Do you think there is a “right time” to release an album? Should the label just drop the project once everything is in place? What are they waiting for? I just hope at least two of our 10 freshmen MCs actually drop this year. —clovito