By: ALEXANDER DELEON / STAFF REPORTER
Billionaire and Hip Hop Icon Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, released his 11th studio album Donda 2 at the end of February 2022.
What made this album different from all other albums dropped prior was the decision to release it exclusively to his brand new audio device, The Stem Player.
Ye made the announcement of this unique release in early February through an Instagram post captioned, “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.”
Ye has always done things differently than other artists in the industry.
Whether people agree with his opinion or not, Ye has always been known for his controversial takes and actions — and the release of this new album is no different.
Ye has long dealt with contract issues with record labels, a problem that can be seen in his new documentary “Jeen-Yuhs” on Netflix.
The film follows a young Kanye West fighting to get his name out to the world and get a record deal, but was ignored by the industry for the longest time.
From trying to be recognized as more than a producer, flying around the country asking other artists to borrow studio time to record, to spending more than $30,000 of his own money to shoot the video for breakout record “Through The Wire,” Ye has always gone the extra mile with little support from the industry.
Now, Ye is in a very different position than he was 20 years ago.
With the power and influence he currently holds in the music industry, Ye has decided it’s time to fight back against a music industry that he feels oppresses artists.
The Stem Player, the centerpiece of Donda 2’s release, is a disc shaped audio device that was originally released on August 25, 2021.
This audio device allows users to modify songs they listen to in ways never done before.
Users can isolate different elements of songs using touch sensitive light sliders. These sliders allow the user to adjust the volumes of the vocals, drums, melodies, and bass to get a completely unique sound from their favorite songs.
While the Stem Player comes with a hefty price tag of $200, Ye sold over 10,000 devices, with Ye making $2.2 million in just three days.
Ye could have funded his entire debut album with the amount of money he made from just three days of selling Stem Players.
Viewing the significance of the Stem Player from this perspective, fans can see why Ye is so passionate about having complete control over his music.
In reclaiming control over his music through his album release, Ye had his sponsorship deals cut with streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, who were originally supposed to have Donda 2 on its platforms.
Ye took to instagram to discuss the matter in a now deleted post where he was informed via text message that Apple Music no longer wanted to continue its $100 million sponsorship deal with Ye.
Even with the controversy this decision has brought, Ye proceeded to release Donda 2 on February 23, 2022, exclusively on his Stem Player device.
So far 16 tracks have been uploaded to the stem player, but as of right now, the album does not sound completely finished.
This however, aligns with the concept of the Stem Player, as Ye has the freedom to make adjustments to the album whenever he sees fit, essentially releasing an album that can potentially never be completely finished.