In a rather epic undertaking of graphic design manipulation, self-promotion, and petty crime, Los Angeles DJ Paz Dylan has swapped every Justin Bieber CD in the city, and replaced it with his own.
He made a bunch of fake Bieber CD cases, put his own CD in them, and then swapped the cases on shelves of stores all over the city - 5,000 CDs in all, he says.
Don't believe it? We didn't either, especially since Dylan, a veteran prankster, sent around his press release on April Fool's Day. But then we tested it ourselves, going to a random Best Buy on Pico Boulevard.
There, sitting on the rack were a handful of Bieber Believe CD cases, in plastic wrap just like all the others. If you look carefully, however, you'll see that, unlike other artists' CDs, Bieber's didn't have any stickers. Other than that, they looked totally legit.
Once paid for, we opened it up and - voila! - behind Bieber's urgent-looking mug was Paz's From The Bottom Of My Heart To The Top Of Your Lungs, whose art features a dog in a baseball cap wrapped up in a taco, and which sounds like Skrillex with Kendrick Lamar rapping over it.
A pretty neat trick, and one that he says took about a month of intense work. In fact, when we took the CDs to the front register and paid our 15 lousy bucks, the swapped-in cases actually scanned!
"The bar code was one of the most difficult parts," says Dylan when reached by phone.
His bio describes him as a "25-year-old subversive street artist and electronic musician." But what exactly was the point of all of this? Dylan, complaining about the difficulty independent musicians have getting into retail stores, says the goal was to get exposure for his own music.
He says he expects the duped patrons may be upset at first, but they'll listen to his music anyway and maybe give it a chance.
Ironically, Justin Bieber will still get the royalties from all of these CD sales, and of course there's no way to know if Dylan swapped every last one.
But it's still one hell of a prank. Particularly impressive was the packaging design manipulation. Dylan has experience in this sort of thing. Last year, to protest the lack of independent artists honored by the Grammys, he created a series of silly promotional displays with pictures of himself pretending to accept Grammys, and hung them (literally) in the Grammy Museum. They stayed up for about a month before anyone noticed.
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He also stole Paris Hilton's 30th birthday cake and gave it to folks on Skid Row.
Frankly, we love this kind of stuff, but had one question: What did he do with all of the real Justin Bieber CDs that he swapped out? He couldn't have bought them, so did he, like, steal them?
On the record, he wouldn't tell us, and we suppose it's understandable that he wouldn't want to potentially incriminate himself.
So we'll just say "bravo" for a prank well done. This won't make him famous as a musician, but as a performance artist he's killing it.