Should We Have Posted J. Cole’s “Lost Ones”?Posted by Nathan S. on 06/13/11 | Filed under Top Stories, Features, J. Cole
This isn't a topic I'd normally be willing to have on the interwebs, considering the typical level of online conversation ranges somewhere between angry coked up trucker and middle school drop out, but minus the occasional overzealous Wiz Khalifa or "Lasers" stan, RefinedHype Nation has thankfully proven to be an intelligent place. So....should I have posted J. Cole's "Lost Ones"?
Quick background: Last night a new J. Cole track, "Lost Ones', leaked, prompting J. Cole to express his disappointment via Twitter, prompting his hardcore fans to flood sites' comment streams in protest, prompting many of those sites to delete the post (or at least the download link). I'm keeping it up, here's why.
First, and I'm going to be absolutely real here, sites are in the business of attracting readers. If no one reads RefinedHype I don't pay my rent and my daughter can't go to day care. On some level this is a purely numbers game, and although people may like to say in public that they don't click on posts like "Lost Ones", they do. Think about it like the the Brett Farve saga. Everyone said they were sick and tired of the constant Farve coverage, but I've got friends at ESPN who swore that anything with his name attached was guaranteed gold. (See also: "Men lie, women lie, numbers don't lie.)
But that's just the first level. If RefinedHype was all about pageviews we'd be WorldStarHipHop. I've got this weird idea that I should only post things I would want to read and listen to, that RefinedHype should be a site I'd actually want to visit. So that means that, unlike other sites (you know who you are) I'm not posting it unless it's dope, or at least terrible in an entertaining way. "Lost Ones" more than passes the quality test. Ideally, of course, popular and quality aren't mutually exclusive. For example, Kim Kardashian's titties. They're very nice, and a lot of people wanted to look at them. In fact, I bet you're looking at them right now.
The final consideration, and the most complicated one, is ethical. This is the argument that Cole and most of his fans seem to be making - that I shouldn't post "Lost Ones" because it's wrong. The argument is that artists have the right to control what the public hears and what it doesn't, and that music would be better off if we only heard the final, finished product. Frankly, it's a really good argument, we should respect an artists wishes. On the deepest level those people are right. They're also probably hypocrites.
While howls of protest go up when some Cole/Kendirck/K.R.I.T./etc. track gets leaked, no one seems to care when, for example, new Nicki Minaj leaks. So we should respect an artists' wishes and not download/post leaked material, as long as its an artist we like? Sorry, but if it's ethically wrong it's ethically wrong all the time, for everyone. So if you're not downloading "Lost Ones' in ethical protest you might want to take a closer look at your iPod and get to deleting, because I'm pretty sure half your library would be gone under those criteria.
Here's a level of honesty you won't find anywhere else: I don't know if I'm making the right decision here. The online music game is in a constant state of flux, and so is RefinedHype. Everyday I try to balance popularity vs. ethics vs. quality, and in all that balancing I'm sure I make mistakes. Part of me feels genuinely bad for posting "Lost Ones", and the other part of me thinks that artists complaining about leaks are like horse and buggy makers complaining about car engines way back when. Or is that me just trying to justify doing something I know is wrong in the name of pageviews? See, I actually don't know the right answer.
In the end, as always, I'll have to turn it over to RefinedHype Nation. How about it people? Should I have posted "Lost Ones"? Would you have?