The way big rap albums have been made for a while now involves a lot of e-mail and FTP sites, which keeps Lil Wayne from having to constantly be flying from one studio to another to keep up his packed schedule of guest appearances. Jay-Z and Kanye bucked that trend when making Watch the Throne, choosing instead to record the album in a series of luxury hotel suites with both rappers in the room together at the same time for every track. With the crazy outsized influence the pair has on the hip-hop world there’s been a flurry of talk about rappers and producers returning to in-person collaborations and regaining the creative crackle you really only get from artists vibing off of each other in close physical proximity.

There’s another reason for hip-hop artists to consider working face to face: that’s the main reason why Watch the Throne didn’t leak before it hit iTunes last Monday. Well I mean that and the encrypted hard drives in military-grade secure briefcases and a bunch of other Ocean’s Eleven-style security measures. Basically these days if you don’t want your record on RapidShare a couple of months before its street date you’re going to have to work like a terrorist cell. Billboard has the whole fascinating and slightly crazy story.

If you haven’t seen the Spike Jonze-directed video for WTT‘s first single, “Otis”—which somehow manages to make being an insanely wealthy and famous rap star look pretty fun—it’s after the jump.