NPR logo Lil Wayne's 'Rebirth' Hits Web Prematurely

Lil Wayne's 'Rebirth' Hits Web Prematurely

Amazon mistakenly leaks Lil Wayne's new album. Ben Rose/PictureGroup via AP IMAGES hide caption

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Ben Rose/PictureGroup via AP IMAGES

Amazon mistakenly leaks Lil Wayne's new album.

Ben Rose/PictureGroup via AP IMAGES

Remember waiting for your favorite album to come out? You know, patiently anticipating the release as the first single played over and over on your favorite radio station. Or going to Sam Goody on a Tuesday morning for that new CD, or cassette, (or eight-track)?

Well, it seems those days are over. And the recent woes of America's biggest rapper, Lil Wayne, are proof.

Wayne's last album, Tha Carter III, was the biggest selling album of 2008.

So, clearly, anticipation for his next disc, a rock-infused romp entitled Rebirth, has been high.

But, early singles, like "Prom Queen", never really caught on, and in my opinion, they sucked...

In spite of this, scores of fans still pre-ordered Rebirth ahead of the January 2010 release date.

But this past Monday, about 500 Wayne fans who pre-ordered the disc on got an early Christmahanakwanzika present — a copy of Rebirth, in their mailboxes.

This was NOT supposed to happen.

And as you can already guess, as soon as the album hit mailboxes, it hit the Net. Within hours, the entire album was leaked online. So much for that whole 'album release day' idea.

As a result, Wayne's headed back to the studio to entirely reconfigure the new disc. Some tracks are being cut, some are being added — he's doing any and everything to make sure people actually have a reason to legally buy Rebirth when it hits shelves.

Besides making us all wonder just how much Amazon should be forced to pay Lil Wayne and his crew for perhaps the biggest musical screw-up since Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers at last year's Grammys — the Rebirth saga should make us all question the actual point of album release dates.

The last big rap album event, Jay-Z's Blueprint III, actually hit online streaming sites like Rhapsody an entire week before the CDs hit shelves — and that was on purpose.

And if you dug hard enough, you could find all of Rihanna's Rated R online before its official release date last month. Leaking is NOT just a rap problem...

We've all been hearing about the death of the CD, but the foolishness of this past week really puts it in perspective. The relationship between record companies and distributors like Amazon, iTunes, and traditional record stores is dysfunctional, if not entirely acrimonious.

And the future of the entire industry seems in flux. But if anyone can make it, I suppose Weezy can. On the uber-smash "A Milli," from Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne said of himself,

"My name ain't BIC, but I keep that flame..."

Well, we're trusting you Lil' Wayne. Don't let Amazon hold you down. Keep the fire burning.