"Serious question....how do these projects get leaked? Common sense always told me that the artists leak it themselves. Is it a case of someone hacking computers to get the music?"
I've actually been to a couple panel workshops at music conference covering the topic of leaking. Typically only less than 10% of the time the artist leaks it themself. Primarily it's more one of these 4 faults:
a) a threat of digital security at the studio (people hacking, copying, stealing from, or intercepting stream of emails to/from the studio).
b) often times larger more profitable bootleggers/bloggers in the past make a very fast buck (and notoriety) seeding & tagging the original leaked download files, as well as the back-end of pirating the music...so they have been caught offering engineers/studio workers money to "accidentally" send them the finalized music.
c) The lack of security/laziness at the label headquarters after the mastered music is turned in. MANY times the label is housed in a plaza of multiple offices (sometimes on different floors) and workers/executives are too lazy to get up and walk it over to another office. So instead them send over the unprotected internet (vulnerable to hackers), or give it to interns that don't even work in their department to deliver it. Some alot of these interns copy the files for themselves before they deliver them.
d) During the release process, retail-wise at least, manufacturing companies make the CDs, send them to distribution companies who send out cd shipments often times 3-4 weeks early to storage facilities for the respective retail chains [best buy has their own, FYE has their own, target has their own, etc-etc]. Once they get there, the cds are stickered and then just sit awaiting for the Monday delivery date to the stores, so they can be put on the shelves on Tuesday. Alot of times, the freight, fort-lift, and packing workers at these distribution storage facilities aren't the most brightest nor honest set of people - and will swipe a cd within storage. Since labels have been getting a little more secure, lately alot of bootleggers/bloggers have targetted these workers for pay-offs to steal them specific CDs. And like dude said above...even once it gets to the retail stores some of the young employees have sticky fingers and will take 1 cd and upload it to the net early.
Now, do I think Jay's manager got his game on strong to protect this album = Yes. They've been taking alot of special precautions during the studio process (producer/engineer Mike Dean was explaining how they aren't emailing ANYTHING for the cd, instead they are flashdrive the pro tools sessions and delivery and/or fedexing overnight the flashdrive to the next studio/artist it needs to goto), gonna aim more for a digital release at first, the turn-in process, and the shipping process. BUT, in my experience, I still think it'll leak a little early. Honestly, after the shipping process it's kinda out of their power.