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As you might’ve heard De La Soul are giving away all of their albums for free on their website today. Err… allegedly that’s what they’re doing. The whole process is a mess.

If their site still doesn’t work you can hit the Torrents like any sane/savvy internet user should’ve done ages ago. Or you can go to a used CD store and spend two dollars to have something you can hold in your hands and show to your children.

It appears De La Soul themselves hit the torrents to source these files. Of the six albums that are actually downloading (the rarities compilation isn’t arriving in my inbox either), several seem to be no more than pirated MP3s. Check out the Comments field of the MP3 tags:

  • AOI: Bionix is sourced from, likely from this post. That was posted in 2009 before the MegaUpload shutdown and MediaFire’s subsequent paranoid crackdown, but the MP3s endured, comments field unedited. This explains why the song titles, like the one in the screenshot above, are all cut off after 30 characters. (ID3v1 specs!)
  • De La Soul Is DeadStakes is High, and 3 Feet High are all sourced from (see here), which appears to be a Russian music piracy site focused on hip-hop. This explains why there is no ID3 tagging at all on the De La Soul Is Dead MP3s.
  • Only Art Official Intelligence and Buhloone Mindstate don’t bear the marks of pirated MP3s, but I’m willing to be they too were not sourced from masters or something else more legitimate. The ‘Encoded With’ field on those albums, though, isn’t missing, so that’s a little encouraging—they may be directly encoded to MP3 from lossless files.

The sample rate on all six releases is 320kbps—as high-quality as MP3s go—but with an uncertain history there’s no telling if these have gone through multiple lossy MP3s encodings.

Will you be able to tell? Probably not. I can’t, and I imagine that somebody at the De La Soul camp at least vetted these by ear before putting them up for download.

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