Rapper Kanye West has announced that he will be releasing his upcoming album exclusively through his own device and platform, and not on any major platforms, blaming the switch on low commissions and a move toward independence from binding contracts.
“Donda 2 will only be available on my own platform, the Stem Player,” Kanye, who has changed his name to Ye, said in an Instagram post while sharing a teaser of his upcoming track. “Not on Apple, Amazon, Spotify, or YouTube. Today, artists get just 12% of the money the industry makes. It’s time to free music from this oppressive system. It’s time to take control and build our own.”
Kanye encouraged fans to order the Stem Player, which is a device as well as a streaming platform. The $200 disc-shaped device, featuring a cross of four lights, allows users to split songs into “stems.”
In audio production parlance, a stem is a grouped collection of sounds used as a single unit and can be edited, removed, or changed during a song. The Stem Player allows users to control vocals, bass, samples, and drums.
In addition, users can add effects and isolate parts of a song. The device has four touch-sensitive light sliders, a 3.5 mm jack input, a 97-decibel speaker, Bluetooth, 8GB storage, and supports a wide range of song formats. The official Twitter account of Stem Player uploaded a video on Feb. 3 previewing how the device can be used.
In another Instagram post, Kanye revealed getting the same feeling releasing the Stem Player as when the rapper first moved to New York before making it big in the music industry. He just knew that he “had to move.” Kanye said that he made 10 albums under 10 contracts, and has now turned down a $100 million Apple contract.
“No one can pay me to be disrespected. We set our own price for our art,” Kanye said in the post. “Tech companies made music practically free, so if you don’t do merch, sneakers, and tours, you don’t eat. Jay Z made Tidal and fake media attacked him. Well, in the words of my big brother, ‘Come and get me.’ I’m willing to die standing cause I ain’t living on my knees no more. God please cover me.”
The popular rapper added that he was working on “more things.” Tidal is a streaming service.
The Stem Player will ship with Kanye’s 27-track “Donda” album released in August last year, a follow-up to “Jesus Is King,” which was released in 2019. “Donda” was named after Kanye’s deceased mother, Donda West, and featured collaborations with multiple artists like Kid Cudi, Jay-Z, and Lil Baby.
Donda West, who died at the age of 58 in 2007, worked at the Chicago State University as an English professor. Her death reportedly left a massive impact on Kanye who eventually named a creative content company as well as two albums in her name.
Some Instagram users criticized Kanye’s decision to only release “Donda 2” on a $200 device, as many won’t be able to afford it.