Label drama has confounded musicians since the idea of a label first came to be. These days, however, the internet has allowed musicians to hold a trump card, a nuclear option if the situation becomes too dire: they can leak the album themselves.
Death Grips are the resident gurus of leakage, and they’ve found more and more disciples as the digital era continues to shift and twist in the wind. But there is another way. When Kool A.D. (formerly of Das Racist reported there was still no word from his label on a release date, he put together an album of B-Sides and let it fly off into the ether.
“Not O.K.” is 15 songs that didn’t make the final cut, but too often that means those songs will never be heard by the general public. It’s something bands like Grizzly Bear have been doing with most of their releases, a peek behind the curtain. It immediately doubles the depth of Kool A.D.’s discography, and gives us an idea of his musical influences for the “real” album—”Not O.K.” features production from Toro Y Moi and guest verses from Alim, Jabee, and Del Tha Funky Homosapien.
The whole album is a beautiful walk through a chapter of self-proclaimed weird rap. Kool A.D. is relaxed. He knows how good he is, flipping social commentary into rhythmic gymnastics (“Fools cry over spilt milk and argue over whether a leather kilt is hetero”) with ease. The album is abrasive only in that every track demands your attention—the songs themselves are serene symphonies, thoughtful and calming, closer to a conversation than a pop song.
Kool A.D. also released a video for “Swole,” a heat-mapped profile of the rapper directed by Nick Knight (of “Bound 2” fame). You can stream that after you listen to the whole album below. Kool A.D. is also king of free music btw. You can buy “Not O.K” for however much you’d like to pay. I personally put this album’s value at about $14,000, but it’s up to you.