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.