At last, Kanye West has dropped his seventh studio album, now officially titled The Life of Pablo. Originally, it went by So Help Me God, and then it turned into Swish, and then Waves. Moving on! The album was first previewed to the public at Madison Square Garden last week where ‘Ye hosted a massive gathering to also show off his Yeezy Season 3 fashion line. The plan was to drop TLOP on Friday, Feb. 12, but due to production delays, he ended up formally announcing its availability following his two live performances on SNL. Interestingly, the album does not include previously released tracks such as “Only One,” “FourFiveSeconds,” and “All Day.” Of the 18 total tracks, fans will instantly recognize these four: “Real Friends,” “Wolves,” “No More Parties in LA,” and “Facts.” Production and vocals on the final versions of these songs, mind you, were tweaked from their original incarnations, so you might want to hold onto both versions in your collection. Eye the album’s questionable artwork after the break.
And now for some sour news for Kanye fans all over. On SNL, West told fans to head to Tidal to stream The Life of Pablo. News came out that the album would be a Tidal-exclusive during its initial launch period of about a week or so. Turns out that window will go on indefinitely. The meddling rapper has been ranting on Twitter lately, and a tweet that stuck many fans (myself included) right in heart reads, “My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.” This very well may be a marketing ploy to get his fanbase to sign up for Tidal subscriptions, and TLOP may still be on track for a regular major release across the other music streaming services. But this stings. If Kanye indeed has this power over his label, he is doing a massive disservice to his fans who don’t subscribe to Tidal and instead rely on iTunes/Amazon/Google or even the collection of physical copies of CDs. As a longtime fan and supporter of West’s contributions to music and the rap scene, I am incredibly displeased with all of this. Not cool.
Among his many recent Twitter rants, Kanye is pleading Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other wealthy individuals to give him money so he can live out his creative dreams. Hey Kanye: If you released your new album on more than one platform you’d make yourself some more money! According to TorrentFreak, “an estimated 500,000 people” have illegally downloaded a copy of TLOP on torrent sites like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay. Of course, illegal sharing and downloading of albums, movies, etc. is a normal occurrence these days, but I think it’s safe to say that ‘Ye could have curbed this astronomical number by selling his album on the industry’s most popular platforms like iTunes. Here’s to hoping he comes to his senses, or his label strong-arms him into sharing his latest work (which has been receiving solid reviews) with the rest of us.
Update (2/17): Kanye’s uploaded the album’s credits on his website; big talents like Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, and The Weeknd can be spotted. Unfortunately, there’s no update on TLOP extending its reach beyond Tidal. For now, make due with Stephen Colbert’s scathing review of the rapper’s recent tweetstorm. READ MORE Kanye West finally releases new album, but it’s a Tidal-exclusive (for now)