RuPaul Charles, who has built a career on an over-the-top irreverence for convention, pulled another fast one for his latest album, "Born Naked."
This time, the queen of drag turned the table on pirates by putting out a decoy album on several popular Torrent sites that traffic in bootleg music. While this trick has been done before, few have gotten the viral online buzz that the RuPaul's decoy has received, largely because of the stream-of-conscious monologues it contains (check-out two tracks from the "Born Naked" decoy album below).
Reposts of the decoy's tracks have been shared tens of thousands of times across various blogs and social media accounts, drawing nearly about as much attention to itself as the legitimate album it was meant to promote. One Tumblr repost of the decoy received more than 108,500 listens as of Monday. The author, Tyler Oakley, noted, "This is how you handle an album leak." Another Tumblr blogger admitted to downloading the album illegally and posted, "Oh my god I am so embarrased right now." The apology was liked by more than 8,600 people.
"We work so hard on this music," RuPaul said in an interview. "So we thought, why not flood the torrents with a decoy album that educates consumers on why it's important to buy music."
The decoy also turned out to be oddly entertaining, with each track starting with 20 to 30 seconds of the actual song before fading out and giving way to RuPaul's random commentaries, sometimes chiding listeners for illegally downloading the album.
On the bootleg version of "Freaky Money" RuPaul pipes in, "You done stole my album! Uh uh, no you better don’t, hooker! You better get your tail on over to iTunes, baby!" The entertainer then admits, "Hey, who hasn’t illegally downloaded an album? But when it’s somebody that you admire or that you want to support, child! How am I gonna keep my lace fronts on point if I can’t make a living doing what I’m doing with that 'Freaky Money'?"
RuPaul also sprinkles in behind-the-scenes commentary on the tracks.
For "Can I Get an Amen," RuPaul tells listeners, "Now, I have done a duet with Martha Wash before. She asked me to do a duet with her.... She is one of my favorite singers of all time" then proceeds to recite a history of Wash’s career.
RuPaul, who released "Born Naked" on Feb. 24 to coincide with the season seven premier of his television show "RuPaul's Drag Race" on Logo TV, said the idea for the decoy originated with Lucian Piane, his longtime producer. Piane, whose viral remix of Christian Bale's outburst received 5.5 million YouTube views, said the two recorded the decoy album six days before the official release at Piani's West Hollywood studio in one, 45-minute take.
It's too early to tell whether the ploy has helped boost sales for the official album, which won't be reported by Nielsen SoundScan until later this week. For now, the artist is content just to be a topic of conversation.
"There's a saying that when a man goes to a dinner party, all he needs is a nice jacket," RuPaul said of the decision to record the decoy. "But a woman must have at least two pieces of gossip. That's what we wanted to do with this album -- give people something to talk about. Infiltrate the discussions around popular culture and be subversive about it."