Like Kanye, who had fans drive out to particular buildings to see projections of "New Slaves," and J. Cole, who let fans stream his album in an app that could only be unlocked when the user arrived at particular coordinates, Jay is takin' it to the streets. His publicist, Jana Fleishman, tweeted out a series of photos and clues on June 22, and superfans pursued a trail of virtual bread-crumbs to books containing the song titles to Magna Carta Holy Grail. Information about collaborators, however, was "redacted."

This is today's major-league rap promotion. A sort of viral marketing-meets-street team kind of thing. It's innovative, no doubt. And maybe even "necessary" in some kind of real-politik sense. But these kinds of high-profile publicity stunts are helping turn hip-hop coverage into the kind of strategy analysis that hampers so much of today's political reportage—where the actual issues (in this case, the music) are ignored in favor of discussion of tactics drawn up in a campaign war room. This is a 'smart' strategy, this is a 'bad' strategy, whatever your angle, we're all suddenly armchair experts on the world of marketing and business. How much hype can Jay build without ever actually letting us hear the music?