Some things are too good to be true. Others are stunningly creative marketing techniques by major labels.
The story began this morning when SwagSec, a self-professed gay black hacking collective, defaced Amy Winehouse’s website. It was impressive, and entirely NSFW. Along with a tirade against other hacking groups, the “white devil” and “heterosexual niggaz”, the group claimed to have a password dump from fans of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Klaxons and Def Jam.
Gay black hackers? Lady Gaga? Yeah, that’s probably a story.
Minutes before submitting my piece to AOL Music, SwagSec struck again, this time on Lauren Pritchard’s site.
I got a screenshot of the flashing page of offensive lyrics, but amazingly I took it just as the background turned white:
You’l notice the rapper Lil B, appears on both pages. SwagSec (short for Swagger Security) are keen fans of the rapper, as you’ll notice from their twitter feed where they post his lyrics and youtube links. The Amy Winehouse hack also pointed to a video of Lil B talking about his love for hackers and the internet, and my favourite quote of 2011: “Carpal tunnel, I love you”:
But some of this didn’t add up. ‘Gay hackers target Amy Winehouse’ still seemed too good a headline to be true.
Then I saw that Lil B was releasing his new album today. Apparantly his album ‘I’m Gay’ (named so in support of the LGBT community, though Lil B is himself a heterosexual) had been released without any notice.
Convenient? I later hear through the grapevine that Winehouse and Pritchard share the same PR guy. Would it be too cynical to imagine he has a new client in Lil B? Yes, it would. Until you see that Lil B had a ‘secret’ meeting with Universal staff back in March.
Does this smell even a tiny bit like a marketing campaign? Is it possible that the site owners and label did this purely for press coverage?
In the interests of balance, here’s the reasons against it all being engineered by the label:
Putting offensive lyrics and music over a site where young innocent fans might see it would be morally irresponsible. And of course, major labels always behave.
It’s too clever to have been engineered. It would take a genius on the pulse of all modern culture to think it up and time it with the notoriety of LulzSec and Anonymous fresh in everyone’s memory.
Lil B doesn’t appear to be signed to Universal anyway.
What could be more likely is that Lil B is personally connected to SwagSec, and suggested they do something special for his album launch.
It’s hard to tell what really happened today, and Universal have made no comment whatsoever. The only way to see if SwagSec really have hacking chops, and aren’t connected to this label, is to see if they can pull off a coup outside of the realm of Universal Music.
Update: Just to be clear, all of the aforementioned artists are on Universal. It’s unclear whether they’re being targeted because hackers have something against Universal, or if this whole thing is somehow coming from Universal itself.