After posting previews of two songs from the now-released The Life of Pablo in January to his SoundCloud (where he’s also posted the Andre 3000-assisted “30 Hours”), then releasing the third season of his Yeezy fashion line in a precedent-setting show at Madison Square Garden last Thursday (Feb. 11), then bringing “High Lights” and “Ultralight Beam” (with assists from Young Thug, Chance the Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin) to Saturday Night Live Feb. 13, Kanye West‘s seventh studio album finally came out, streaming exclusively on Tidal and as a download on KanyeWest.com.
And then it was gone.
For one of the most anticipated records of the year, Pablo‘s release was as messy as the public persona of its creator. (And The Life of Pablo‘s artistic achievement is as certain as its status as a piece of commerce is confusing; opener “Ultralight Beam” is a galaxy away from “Gold Digger” in ambition and scope.) Preceded by rumors of its not even being complete in the week leading up to West’s SNL bow, Kanye ecstatically pointed fans towards Tidal (to stream) and West’s website (to purchase) at the end of his visit to 30 Rockefeller Center.
But the album didn’t arrive until more than an hour later, when Tidal announced its release with a seven-day exclusive stream shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Those wanting to purchase the album were directed to West’s site, where it could be purchased for $20. Then within a few hours, the download link was taken down, and Twitter users were claiming that their credit cards were either charged multiple times without delivering the album, or that the album just never arrived at all.
Sources close to the situation tell Billboard that shortly after its posting, West decided he wasn’t happy with the mastering of the record, and removed it from his site while it could be re-worked. Almost simultaneously Kanye’s site crashed, leaving some fans stuck with completed purchases never delivered (because ‘Ye removed the album) or with multiple charges on their card due to repeated purchase attempts made while the site was unresponsive. For many, those charges have been cleared up and the album has been delivered; however, nearly 4,000 fans who paid for the record are still without it.
Currently, Pablo is only available for streaming via Tidal and is not available for purchase or download.
Wielding Twitter like a publicity shillelagh in the past few weeks, West then addressed the home of Pablo directly, saying the record would never be for sale and “never on Apple,” but only “on Tidal” in a tweet sent on Monday (Feb. 15).
My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016
Apple and Tidal declined to comment on West’s tweet, and a request for comment from Def Jam went unreturned as of press time. Sources are unclear on the plan moving forward, though one says Tidal is still planning on its seven-day exclusive window; afterward, whether it becomes available to other streaming services or for purchase on Tidal or any other retailer is up in the air.