Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What to Do?

Recently, OffBeat was offered the opportunity to review the new B.G. album, but the reviewer was going to have to go to a preview party to hear the album. When I asked for a copy for the reviewer to hear using his or her usual reviewing process, I was told that wasn't an option, but that a private listening session could be set up at the Chopper City offices. That didn't seem like a significant improvement on the party; in either case, someone else controls how the reviewer hears the music, which has to affect the review, if subtly.

When I was told this was a security concern, I pointed out that I didn't appreciate being suspected with no cause. I was told I wasn't personally suspected, but that doesn't make it better. If the label suspects everybody and treats everybody as a potential bootlegger, that doesn't mean they're not being suspicious. I gather other hip-hop labels exercise similar control over advance listenings, but that doesn't make it better.

As of now, the story has ended more or less where I expected it to. OffBeat hasn't paid enough attention to hip-hop and B.G. in the past to have much leverage in this situation. I'm bummed we're not reviewing the CD, and though I know I'm fighting the right fight for reviewing and journalism, I also have the nagging doubt that, like the last people stubbornly using "indices" instead of "indexes," I've put my heels in to fight a lost fight.

1 comment:

Frolic said...

A few years ago the New Yorker pop writer decided not to review anything he couldn't put on his iPod. That's how he listened to music, and that was how he would review it.

Not sure if got any labels to bend and give him copies. My guess is that the New Yorker doesn't have a lot of leverage with pop music not aimed at New York hipsters with trust funds.