By Sophie Alexander
After three long years of anticipation, Kanye West released his new album, The Life of Pablo (TLOP). Despite TLOP’s immense musical success, there has been much negative publicity as a result of its limited access. “My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal,” West tweeted Monday.
Tidal is a subscription based music streaming service similar to Spotify. Unlike Spotify, Tidal is considered the musician’s streaming service, providing artists better pay for, and control over the music they release. Jay Z is the owner of Tidal and West is only one of many big name investors. Others include Beyoncé, Rihanna, Madonna, Daft Punk, and Nicki Minaj.
West’s controversial move may be explained by the 53 million dollars of debt he claimed via twitter the day before TLOP’s release. The day of the album’s release West took to twitter again. First he asked Mark Zuckerberg to invest “1 billion dollars in Kanye West ideas.” Later, he tweeted imploring all music fans to subscribe to Tidal. Unlike Spotify who offers a free streaming option, Tidal requires a paid subscription to access its content.
It’s hard for even Kanye’s most dedicated fans to feel compelled to spend up to $20/month to support the finances of a man rapping about the $10,000 fur coat he bought his four year old. Erik Gross, a sophomore, said he would just wait for the album to come out on Spotify. When I let him know it would never be released on Spotify he scoffed and said, “Then I guess I’ll never hear it.”
Sure, Tidal may have jumped to the iTunes App Store’s top charts but at the rate TLOP has been illegally downloaded, it will soon be the most pirated album online ever. “After the first day an estimated 500,000 people have already grabbed a copy,” reported TorrentFreak. By Wednesday, over 16,000 people were simultaneously distributing the album on the file-sharing website Pirate Bay. Rumor has it Kanye plans on pursuing legal action against Pirate Bay.
The prevailing description of TLOP is “messy”, and this rings true in so many ways. The album is controversial in more ways than one. Not only has there been outrage over its exclusive release on Tidal, but also many are upset by its misogynistic content. In his new song, “Famous”, West reignites an old feud between him and Taylor Swift. He says in the song, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous.”
The music itself in TLOP is messy as well. West mixes rap, gospel, rock, and blues throughout the album, but in this case it’s a beautiful mess. The Life of Pablo is a collaboration of some of the most talented minds in music: Chance the Rapper appears on “Ultralight Beam” and has writing credits on several other songs; Drake and Future also have writing credits; Kendrick Lamar appears on “No More Parties in L.A.”; Rihanna appears on “Famous”; Greg Phillinganes, who worked with Michael Jackson, plays keyboard on “Highlights”; the list goes on. Amid all this talent, TLOP is still very much recognizable as a Kanye West album. The album is jam-packed with great beats, clever verses, and of course the usual Kanye crudeness.
So, as long as Kanye keeps making music this good, I can overlook the10 minutes it took me to switch my subscription from Spotify to Tidal (both services have the student discount anyways). It may seem like a strange way to promote his album but, as West says himself in his new song “Feedback”, “Name one genius that aint crazy.”