Best Place to Acquire Not-Quite-Authorized Music, Post-Napster (2008)

Canal Street

While Shawn Fanning and Co. fight for your right to download, urban music fans have long been hip to an even more accessible form of alternate distribution. On Canal Street, amidst the broad selection of sunglasses and personal electronic accessories, there's the largest concentration of illegally reproduced CDs and tapes this side of Beijing. Every major hip-hop release graces these tables for a mere five dollars, along with a smattering of pop, r&b, dancehall, and Latin. Most troubling for the record biz, though, are the preponderance of leaked advances—versions of albums by Nature, Shyne, and Cam'ron hit the streets months before their proper release, satisfying eager consumers' demand. But for some artists, bootlegging may well be redemption. In the case of Tragedy Khadafi, recently dropped by V2, his bootleg is as close to an official release as he's getting. Personal satisfaction without a paycheck may well be better than having neither.


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