In early 2016 Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert started receiving attention for his clothes and on-again off-again romance, than his pop punk inspired music. Though he did have a Twitter account, his primary medium of public communication was via Instagram. Even if his music eventually found on a home on SoundCloud, it was through Instagram the rapper would play unreleased songs that fans furiously would upload onto YouTube. The act of preserving his yet-to-be-released music provided semi-permanent to what was intended to be ephemeral moments.
Lil Uzi Vert never stopped playing songs for his Instagram audience and the result is that YouTube is now littered with song clip compilations. The end result is that if you remember a Lil Uzi Vert song preview from an Instagram live, then there is a rather good chance it’ll be online in some form.
(Aside here: If I was going to champion what makes YouTube Music special compared to Spotify, etc. it’d be this but I’ll get more into that later.)
Now this isn’t a particular new habit of releasing songs early or having them leak out in such a manner. I distinctly remember multiple versions of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” that leaked online where West kept adjusting and attempting to perfect the drums. Years ago the innovative trap producer Lex Luger would go on livestream and just smoke blunts while playing endless unreleased beats. Chief Keef even did the same in the mid-2010s where fans would be anxiously awaiting for songs to drop because they already heard early versions either on Instagram, Snapchat, or however someone with camera recorded Keef’s music.
Earlier this summer I decided to watch a few of these compilation videos that featured all of these Lil Uzi Vert unreleased tracks because even if I’ve heard the song a hundred times I don’t even want to think how many times I watched his early Instagram uploads of same tracks. Once I finally clicked on the videos and I started to notice in the description a long string of Content ID tags, which is the system YouTube uses to identify copyrighted material and in this instance songs.
I kept scrolling down these videos and clicked to the licensing details and saw numerous songs where their rights were being claimed. One video called “Lil Uzi Vert Best Snippets That Released!!!!
” featured five songs tagged through Content ID, but one stuck out to me.