After Billboard determined that Ye‘s latest album, Donda 2, failed to meet chart eligibility requirements due to its release exclusively through the rapper’s $200 proprietary hockey-puck-sized Stem player, the artist formerly known as Kanye West declared victory in his bid to shake up tradition.
“Big win for the kid We can no longer be counted or judged We won we won we won we won,” West wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday morning (March 9) that included an image of the boundary-pushing rapper staring blank-faced while wearing a black hoodie. “We make my own systems We set our own value aaaand yesterdays price is not todays price baaaaabeeeee!!!!!” he added.
West released the 16-track album on his Stem player on Feb 23, holding back the music from streaming services and self-reporting on Instagram on Feb. 18 that he’d racked up $1.3 million in sales in the first 24 hours after the album announcement on sales of 39,500 for reported total net sales north of $8.6 million. The Stem player allows users to remix songs as they listen.
Though West continued to chart a unique path with his latest project, Billboard ruled that because the album is being sold with a device that can be used for other means besides the playing of the album, the Stem/Donda package fell within Billboard’s latest merch bundle policy, where albums sold with merchandise are not chart eligible.
Since the Stem Player is a fairly new concept, however, people familiar with the matter from both Billboard and MRC say they plan to continue to monitor its evolution as it relates to chart eligibility. West celebrated the album’s release with a listening party and live performance in Miami at LoanDepot Park on Feb. 22, releasing an additional 12 tracks the next day as the Miami Version.
When Ye released Donda on Aug. 29, it topped the Billboard 200 albums chart with 309,000 equivalent album units moved, according to MRC Data, becoming 2021’s top single-week release to that point.