Late last night (Nov. 6), while Drake  was in his hometown debuting a new song, "Crew Love," from his upcoming sophomore album, "Take Care" (Nov. 15), on Toronto's Flow 93.5, a leaked version of the project began circulating online. The version of the album that appeared featured 16 tracks -- a few shy of the full collection said to be coming to retail. "I am not sure if the album leaked. But if it did thank God it doesn't happen a month early anymore," Drake tweeted just after 11pm EST. Minutes later, he posted a second tweet, saying, "Listen enjoy it, buy it if you like it… and take care until next time."
In early October, Drake spoke exclusively to Billboard about album leaks and their impact -- almost predicting to the day when his album would leak online. So was last night's leak a coincidence or all part of the "Take Care" plan?
J. Cole 's album "Cole World: A Sideline Story" leaked a week early and then came in at No. 1. There's been talk that positive reception to his leak spurred sales.
I agree. I think that giving people the opportunity to judge before they go and buy, I think that can only help. There's a loyal fan base that's gonna go and support you just based off the fact that they want to own a copy of your material, and they know what it means to give you that one sale, and they hope that there's another hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred, five hundred thousand people that are gonna do the same thing. And then there's genuinely the people who heard it that night and were like, "Yo, I need to support this, I need to go buy it, I need to own this." His leak was like 10 days before, seven days before. I think those leaks are very beneficial to artists who have the product, who can reel people in with their music as opposed to turning people off.
Do you anticipate leaks? Is that something you factor in and assume is going to happen?
Yeah, always. I look forward to leaks -- knock on wood. I shouldn't probably, but I do. Like I said, if it's a reasonable leak, I look forward to it. We're all sitting here in the studio like, "Oh man the night this leaks, it's gonna be so crazy!" People talk about, "Are you gonna go on the Internet? Are you gonna stay off the Internet? What are you gonna do?" And [producer Noah "40" Shebib] has his own views of what he wants to do, and I have my own idea of what that night's gonna be like for me. The thing about 40, as well as being a great producer and great musician, he's also an incredible, incredible engineer and protector of our music. He set us up a system for this album that I think worked very well. We've suffered no leaks. I've heard rumor of a couple records floating around out there that people are just listening to for their own personal enjoyment, like early demos and shit like that. But most of the records that they're talking about are features, so you know, usually when you start sending to other camps, stuff gets a little messy. 40 protects the music really well, and I think God willing I get like the same thing I'm talking about, like a 10 day leak. And that's something I'd be extremely excited about because I feel like if people get the opportunity to live with the music for a week before they go buy it, it's only gonna help me, not hurt me. So I'm looking forward to hearing the feedback from everyone -- that's gonna be an exciting night when it comes out.
Keep checking Billboard for more information on Drake and "Take Care" -- this week's Billboard magazine, available Friday, will feature a comprehensive interview with Drake. Email Elisabeth Cesarano (email@example.com) to pre-order a copy, head here to subscribe to Billboard  and head to the Billboard Store  for single issues.
- The Juice