No rapper has been genuinely surprised about his album being leaked to the Internets since the days of Jay-Z's Vol. 3 album, and that was back in the 1990s. Your father was barely out of high school. In fact, not that I follow these sorts of things, but I can hardly remember the last time an album wasn't widely available on the Internets before it officially hit the streets. Best case scenario, the album might make it all the way until the week before it comes out before everyone has it, like the most recent TI album.

In case you haven't heard, Lupe Fiasco's highly anticipated (by Hashim Warren) debut album Food and Liquor was recently leaked to the Internets. In statements that have popped up all over the hip-hop Internets, he either doubts that the album will be released now, or is looking to go back in the studio to record some features with Jill Scott and the Academy Award winning Ben Affleck Three 6 Mafia. Seriously. Not to ruin anyone's marketing plan, but I can't help but think that this is all an elaborate publicity stunt.

First of all, you can hardly opt to not release an album that's already floating around on the Internets. Dave Matthews tried that shit back when I was in college, and he only ended up having to give that album an official release. And that was back before today's youth was as sophisticated as it is today, what with MySpace and what have you. Niggas was tradin' shit on CD-r, son! If Lupe Fiasco, or Atlantic Records or whoever opted not to release Food and Liquor, they'd be stopping basically no one from hearing the album, but they'd be forgoing $8 per from the type of stans who would buy that shit anyway.

To support the artist.

That said, I'm sure there's a business case on the part of Atlantic Records, and whoever else has a stake in this[1], not to sink much more money into it if they think there's now a significant chance the album, in its official FBI-approved form, doesn't stand to make much of a profit. As Elliott "Money Pants" Wilson proved in his most recent industry shattering column on this site, rappers aren't moving that many units these days anyway. And certainly, there's no shortage of stories of rappers whose albums never came out for whatever reason.

Since it was announced, by Lupe Fiasco himself, that Food and Liquor is readily available from both Limewire and Bittorrent (who are they?), stories about Lupe Fiasco and this album have popped up on seemingly every hip-hop site there ever was on the Internets - except for this one, of course. Also, interestingly enough, this leak happened to coincide with the video for "Kick, Push" being featured on "TRL," which I'm sure MTV is just doing out of the kindness of their heart. Could it be that this is all an elaborate attempt to a) generate way more publicity for the album than he would have had otherwise, and b) guilt trip people into actually buying it?

Slick move, Mr. Fiasco, but I can tell you right now that I'm not about to spend any money on an album with Jill Scott on it.

[1] If Lupe Fiasco is signed to Atlantic Records, how come he claims his album is being executive produced by the alleged president of Def Jam, Jay-Z? This serves to lend further credence to my theory that there's only really one major record label, which is run by Jimmy "Double Fantasy" Iovine.