Yesterday, MTV News published a story about a mysterious package that been addressed to one of its editors. The package— wrote Hillary Hughes, to whom it was addressed—contained various unexplained objects, such as a VHS tape, which only played static, and some sort of pebble. Also included was a white plastic card that with a string of numbers printed onto the center, as well as the words “NASA,” “PROJECT 10,” and, most interestingly, “KANYE WEST.”
“Is Kanye West Releasing a Secret Project on Monday?” asked MTV’s headline about the parcel. Despite an unnamed Kanye rep musing on the record that it all seemed like a hoax, the article that initially accompanied that headline was thorough in following the leads provided by the anonymous package, with MTV, for instance, following up with Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Nonetheless, the article did not definitively answer the question asked by its headline.
Later, the post was updated with an official statement from “Kanye’s team” saying that Kanye had nothing to do with it, and sometime since then the post has been taken offline. You can still read it via the Wayback Machine, but the original URL turns up a 404.
It’s unusual for a website to nuke an article from the internet, even if it fell for a hoax, which does appear to be the case here. There is a secret history of sorts of people who have created art projects related to, but unaffiliated with, Kanye deciding to mail cryptic packages to journalists in the hopes of drumming up viral attention. I, and others, have been sent several such packages over the years, and they’re almost always obviously fake. The one that MTV received was more elaborate than most—Vogue, one of many publications to pick up MTV’s story, noted that similar ads had also popped up on at least one subway car in Atlanta—but it nonetheless stretched the imagination to believe that Kanye, who recently has been intensely press-averse, had decided to launch his new album by sending journalists on a scavenger hunt.
Representatives for both West and MTV have not yet commented on this story, but we’ll update this story if and when they do.