Let’s keep it real: if you buy albums these days you either don’t know how to find the latest DepositFile link for it, downloaded the album and still felt the need to cop a hard copy or still use a Discman with the cassette adapter in your car. Whatever your reason, chances are that your purchase is not going to fill that artists’ pockets after the costs of the album’s actual production effectively take any and every lucrative aspect of it from the rapper.

For artists to still complain that money is getting taken out of their pockets each time their album is showcased on your favorite messageboard is preposterous. If the person swacked it online, they weren’t going to buy the album in the first place. Premature leaks and cyber-bootlegging are about as commonplace as overpriced alcohol and digital cameras at a show. Every rapper faces it, most can’t find ways to overcome it, but all still take the time out of their so-called busy schedules to bitch about it.

Rappers not moving units shouldn’t throw the blame on the cheapskates of the hip hop world. Instead, more should use these on-the-surface hindrances to their advantage. When I spoke at a panel in Washington, DC, last month, producer-on-the-mic Oddisee spoke on how free music has provided new and more opportunities, including work with other artists of different genres of music or in a different country. During the blitzkrieg of promotional interviews Jay-Z seemed almost ecstatic when The Blueprint 3 leaked a week prior to its release, claiming that he enjoys it when people get to listen to it before actually buying it.

I think Shawn’s losing it a little with that statement.

Perhaps the most lucrative aspect of hip hop is the live show. Regardless of the too-short guest lists and Flip Cam footage that permeates throughout the Internets, there’s really no way to pilfer the live performance (unless you’re Carlos Mencia). After attending Nas and Damian Marley’s concert the other day, I’ve realized that nothing really compares to the energy of a well-executed concert. While labels have caught on to that and will only offer 360 deals that will effectively rape even the signee’s mother, touring is still essentially the best way of keeping those mortgage payments in check for rappers, particularly when their album doesn’t sell. Peep last year’s Freshmen from this very site’s print equivalent: none of their respective albums – or at least those that actually came out with an album – cracked the gold plateau, yet they’ve managed to stay relevant by being on the road like Bill Bixby ever since.

Except Ace Hood. But then again, nobody really cared about him in the first place.

Rapster community, just do us listeners all a favor and find other ways to make money. Barking at the world that leaks are killing your financial status will only make us continue to not buy your stuff. That’s word to the four albums I’ve loaded into the iPod in the past 24 hours already.