Preserving the last remnants of my youth requires staying in touch with rap music, and this year I have enjoyed no two rap albums more than Future’s F.B.G.: The Movie and Tree’s Sunday School Pt. 2. Future is commercially successful, consistently on the radio, and featured on songs by Rihanna and Lil’ Wayne, whereas Tree is more of an underground sensation, just beginning to make a national name for himself. F.B.G.: The Movie is a cinematic haze of keyboard steroids draped over Future’s warbling and Sunday School Pt. 2 is a soulful, introspective walk through Chicago’s war zones. Amazingly, both albums are free, distributed widely by each artist across the Internet.
When I think about the time and creative thought each artist put into the album and the money that must have gone into mixing and mastering the music at a professional level, it astounds me. I assume this tactic to be effective marketing—give people something in order to build a proper fan base so that the artist can tour for pay and put out an “official” album that people will have to purchase. Nonetheless, it still seems bizarre that 20 years ago these albums by Future and Tree would have been exclusively available at brick-and-mortar stores for at least 10 real American dollars.
Whether through Spotify, online mixtape websites, daily MP3 outlets, Soundcloud, or illegal downloading, free music is easily available and is the primary source of listening for many. Free music has obviously changed the way we consume music—but does it also affect the way we experience it?