Steal This Album!

Steal This Album! is an album by System of a Down, released on November 26, 2002, on American Recordings. Produced by Rick Rubin and Daron Malakian, and reached #15 in the Billboard Top 200.[1]

This album was released shortly after a collection of medium-quality MP3s found its way onto the Internet under the unofficial name Toxicity II, a year after the release of the group’s multi-platinum record, Toxicity. The band issued a statement expressing their disappointment that their fans were hearing unfinished material, and released the finished versions of the leaked material. Most, but not all tracks from the original leak (e.g. “Cherry”) made it onto Steal This Album!, and three new tracks such as “Roulette” were also added. Many song titles, lyrics, and melodies were changed, making the new album significantly different from the unfinished product.

Though often reported in the media as being a collection of B-sides and outtakes, the band insists that the Steal This Album! material is of the same quality as the tracks which made it onto Toxicity. Vocalist Serj Tankian has said that the songs were left out of Toxicity “because they didn’t fit the overall continuity of the album”.[2]

The album title is a reference to Abbie Hoffman’s book Steal This Book, which is regarded as a classic example of counterculture literature. A similar title (Steal This Movie!) was used for a movie about Hoffman’s life. A year prior to this album however, The Suicide Machines had already released an album titled Steal This Record. The Coup had also released a Steal This Album in 1998. An alternate version of “Streamline” was used in The Scorpion King soundtrack, which was released in early 2002, and as a B-side on some copies of the Aerials single.

The packaging for this album is quite unusual. The album comes in a normal CD jewel case without a booklet, only the CD. On the CD and the back of the case, it looks like it has been written on with a black permanent marker pen, in faux-bootleg style to make it look like it has been pirated. This is an obvious response by the band to the people who leaked the original Toxicity II CD.

Most songs on the album have received limited play to a live audience. However, songs “Mr. Jack” and “Roulette” were played extensively to live audiences. Multi-instrumentalist Arto Tunçboyacıyan sings on the song “Bubbles”, making his third appearance with System of a Down (having appeared on two songs on Toxicity).

In May 2009, drummer John Dolmayan revealed that the album is his favorite System of a Down release.

Steal This Album!
Studio album by System of a Down
Released November 26, 2002
Recorded 2002
Genre Alternative metal, hard rock
Length 43:31
Label American/Columbia
Producer Rick Rubin, Daron Malakian

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