One of the most heavily anticipated albums of the year randomly drops onto the internet one April night at 2am, no warning, no promotion and no track list. Now, had this have happened with 99% of other artists around the world, alarms bell would ring instantly. It would be denounced as an unofficial leak, removed as quickly as possible and that would be the end of that. This is where Jai Paul is markedly different - over the next 24 hours the story would twist and turn, ultimately ending with the release of a tweet from the man himself stating the music was leaked from a stolen laptop, put out by someone else and was not in fact the long awaited eponymous debut. When looking at the details closely it all seems a bit odd, nonetheless that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. So in recapping, here’s who won and lost over the last 48 hours.
The Fans: The fans, me included can be excused for being whipped up into the frenzy upon the 16-track ‘album’ emerging. The tracks now denounced as demos, some unfinished, some never meant for our ears and some we needed to have been patient enough to wait for. Well, firstly, they sounded pretty good to me, fantastic even. There was the genre-defying “BTSU”, a slightly tinged studio version of “Jasmine”, the incredible 2012 single and other standouts included “Track 15” (All Night) and “Crush” a cover of the 1998 Jennifer Paige chart smash. I’d already given away my coveted ‘album of the year so far’ award on Twitter by time rumours of illegality started to creep out. It was almost too good to be true and in some ways it was; coming from a man with only two solitary single releases over the span over his 3 year career to date, I’ll gladly accept it. Before I rest my case, I’ll leave you with this – you know that ‘Sound Of’ list the BBC put together at the end/start of every year, tipping the next big things that we spent the previous year already getting into? Well Jai Paul landed on the longlist in 2011, alongside guys now on their second and third projects today, so thank the music Gods for Bandcamp-Gate, for it’s finally given us an actual project to attach fandom towards and that can’t be a bad thing.
The Label: The confusion could have been, should have but ultimately wasn’t cleared by XL Recordings, their actions throughout helping to muddy waters further. A label A&R tweeted “Surprise”, hours after the album dropped; this was then retweeted by Head of Marketing at Beggars Group records (of which XL is an offshoot). Pretending to be in the know and having the situation under control in the face of what looked like elusive weirdo music guy going rogue and releasing his album in protest (surely he wouldn’t be that stupid? Yes, I’m looking at you Wiley). That’s just the kind of thing you’d expect in this business.
The Artist: Jai Paul hadn’t even posted a tweet on his verified account, up until two days ago. How he managed to rack up over two thousand followers without a single tweet is anyone’s guess but that number has now swelled to eight after the momentous first140 character occasion. When accessing the situation for the man from Rayners Lane, it’s far from a tragedy. Trending for the day on Twitter, albeit probably alongside whatever the guys from One Direction had for breakfast, is never an easy feat (for regular musicians, with sane fans). It also seems the villainous perpetrator uploaded the tracks and managed to link the payments to Jai Paul’s personal email account. Who knows, now he’s apparently pocketed a couple of quid from his undeniable talents, he might actually get used to this whole concept of releasing and earning and that way everybody wins eventually.