You can love or hate Kanye West but anything he does catches the public attention.
The rapper promised to release his The Life of Pablo album shortly after his Yeezy Season 3 fashion show at Madison Square Garden in New York on February 11th but kept delaying it, much to the disappointment of fans.
He then promised to release the album as soon as it’s “finished” but the problem was, he was still playing around with the track listing, which he changed at least thrice, and finalizing the mixes. It was finally released around 3 am on February 14th as a Tidal exclusive, soon after his Saturday Night Live performance but fans didn’t have a smooth experience streaming or downloading it. Some customers have till date not received a download of the album which they bought bundled with the ticket to the fashion show. To make matters worse, the song ‘Fade’ was just the song ‘Facts’ repeated right in the end. Needless to say, this is one terrible experience for a fan who has spent his hard earned money on a product. Tidal has now responded to fans’ query that the current version of TLOP is only a “partial” one and the “final version” will be serviced to fans soon. But this is Kanye we’re dealing with so that may never happen.
So Kanye set free an “album” he finished just hours prior to release, missing audio of a song that was mentioned in the tracklisting. It was not available to download for a good section of public. It had zero credits or guest features mentioned (at the time of release but are available now) and is never coming out on retail? Yes, the mystery is exciting till a certain time but then starts to get on your nerves.
The project has been supposedly kept out of reach from his label Def Jam and its parent authority Universal Music Group who obviously had little control over the whole process. ‘Ye decided to make TLOP available exclusively on Tidal, the streaming service where he reportedly holds a 3% stake and promised on his Twitter that it will never be on sale. TorrentFreak estimated that TLOP was pirated a whopping 500,000 times in the first 24 hours of its release. We reached out to Def Jam and UMG for comment on the retail situation and received no response but he’s sure to lose out on millions of dollars as a consequence of his decision.
When you look at the presentation of The Life of Pablo, it’s really like a typical mixtape from 2010 where there is a song repeated twice by mistake (‘Facts’), someone like Swizz Beatz just freely shouting his “it’s way too late” ad libs on an instrumental like he’s hosting a Ruff Ryders mixtape (‘Famous’), Kanye freestyling and shouting out his homies in the end of a song while the beat is riding out (‘30 Hours’), Max B appearing on an interlude via a recorded phone call from jail (Silver Surfer Intermission), and the list goes on. Also, who can forget the instance when he tweeted the official artwork but changed it to an altered one hours later.
I personally refuse to call a project like TLOP an “album” when the rollout was nothing like one. It’s all about the perception they say. In addition to the presentation and rollout, any fan who lays extra stress on the quality of sound will admit that some of the mixes on Pablo just do not sound crisp enough. On the chart front, none of the sales have been accounted for so far according to Billboard so until a proper release is delivered, if at all, the numbers will remain uncertain. Do these circumstances really fulfill the conditions for a “studio album”? Think again.
The Life of Pablo isn’t an album, it actually qualifies as a mixtape and it might be his best and most sophisticated one yet.
UPDATE (Feb 25): This piece makes even better sense now considering Kanye & Tidal made sure the numbers didn’t make it to Billboard so it doesn’t chart and ‘Ye has announced a new album for the Summer.