Latin Grammys 2018
Kanye West Blames Conflicts Between Tidal and Apple For Absence from Drake's 'Views'
Kanye West's Saint Pablo tour continued in Seattle last night (Oct. 19) at the KeyArena and Yeezy, as he has all summer long, dedicated a piece of his set to some of his high-profile guest verses he's lent out this year so far. But before he went into "Pop Style," the Drake song that originally included a verse from West and a few lines from Jay Z -- aka the Throne -- 'Ye had something to get off his chest.
"I wasn't on this song 'cause of Hov. 'Cause of this Tidal-Apple bullsh-t," he said, according to videos from the show originally reported by Fader, and also adding that there will never be a Watch the Throne 2. "And this sh-t be getting me tight every time I perform this motherf---er. That y'all didn't get what y'all were supposed to get with me and Drake on this song 'cause of some Tidal - Apple bullsh-t."
He continued, "This sh-t got me tight, yo. Every time I perform the song I think about this sh-t. I think about the politics and the bullsh-t. I think about how hard I go for music, for art, for y'all, for the fans, how hard we go."
In a second video, as part of the same monologue, West went into some detail about how he and Jay first came to be on the song -- and why Jay ultimately backed out, citing his respect for Meek Mill, who is signed to Jay's Roc Nation management company and over a year into a long-running beef with Drake.
"I start freestylin' to it. Jay thought of a couple lines, I said, 'Man, just go ahead and throw that on there, [Drake] would be so surprised he probably wouldn't expect you to be on there,'" Kanye said. "And we sent it back to him. And he was like, 'Oh sh-t, the Throne is on this sh-t.' Then Jay thought about it, and out of respect for Meek Mill he didn't want to be on the track. And I said, 'Look, I'll call Drake, I'll call Meek, I'll call y'all, we gotta squash this sh-t, we gotta let people have this song.'
"But then it went out of that and went into some Tidal, some political sh-t, some sh-t about percentages on songs. I can't take this sh-t, bro."
Now for some context: Kanye, of course, is one of the 20 artist-owners of Jay Z's Tidal streaming service, and released his Life of Pablo album as a streaming exclusive on Tidal for six weeks earlier this year. (In February he claimed it would "never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale." It is now available on all platforms and is for sale on his website.)
Drake's close relationship with Apple has included the exclusive release of his album Views and his short film Please Forgive Me via Apple Music; his OVO Sound radio show on Apple's Beats 1; his Summer Sixteen Tour with Future that was sponsored by Apple Music; and his music being used in Apple Music's now-iconic Taylor Swift treadmill commercial. (Oh, and that jacket.)
The situation, digitally at least, puts Kanye and Drake on opposite sides of the fence as Apple and Tidal compete for subscribers in the race to catch market leader Spotify. It's a frustration that Kanye has voiced before; in July, he started a run of tweets criticizing the arms race that began with, "This Tidal Apple beef is fucking up the music game." He continued by saying he wnated Apple's Tim Cook, Jimmy Iovine and Larry Jackson to get together with Jay, Drake, Roc Nation's Desiree Perez and himself and his manager Scooter Braun to work things out. "F--k all this dick swinging contest. We all gon be dead in 100 Years. Let the kids have the music." Finally, referencing the persistent (and frequently denied) rumors that Apple is lining up a bid to purchase Tidal: "Apple give Jay his check for Tidal now and stop trying to act like you Steve."
The last time West addressed the topic, Billboard dove into the myriad reasons why Kanye would be so insistent on ending this "beef" between Apple and Tidal, which have been the two most prominent players to use exclusives from high-profile artists to boost their services. (Amazon joined them this week, too.) But while he's clearly frustrated with the business -- the "political sh-t," as it were, that blocks him from putting out whatever he wants with whoever he wants -- the reference to percentages is a little more vague. Tidal's initial launch, marred in confusing messaging as it was, came with the promise of a higher royalty rate paid to artists than what Spotify was paying at the time (Apple Music wouldn't launch until three months later).
The reality is a little more muddled than that, but if a joint Drake-Kanye album were to be released, it would likely not be exclusive to Apple or Tidal individually (though maybe to both collectively) and would seem to make that distinction a moot point. Any other analysis would be speculation as to what Kanye was referring to, whether it be writing credits or production points or label politics or some combination of them all. But Kanye's frustrations seem to have ended any potentially imminent joint release, either collectively with Drake or collectively with Jay.
Reps for Apple and Tidal did not return requests for comment as of press time. And the streaming merry-go-round continues spinning for another day.