On Thursday, Kanye West took a break from posting about his personal life to promote his upcoming album Donda 2, which is due for release on Feb. 22.
It is the rapper’s much-anticipated sequel to his 2021 LPDonda, which famously faced a series of delays and was pushed back several times before its release in August.
As a result, fans questioned whether the sequel will face similar holdups, but it appears that it is full steam ahead for Donda 2 to come out next week.
Unfortunately there is one condition, and Kanye, who changed his name to Ye last year, sparked backlash yesterday when he revealed that his album will only be available via his product, the Stem Player, which costs $200.
Making a stand against streaming platforms, Ye told his Instagram followers that his new device is his way of taking back control from the “oppressive” music industry.
“Donda 2 will only be available on my own platform, the Stem Player. Not on Apple Amazon Spotify or YouTube,” he wrote. “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 then urged fans to visit the website to order their player, which ships with a copy of Donda 2 — but fans were horrified when they saw the hefty price tag.
In fact, many said that the $200 expense was enough to make them boycott Ye's album, despite how much they’d been looking forward to hearing it.
“Not buying,” one simply commented on Ye's Instagram post. While another shared: “😂😂😂 and just like that I'm not listening nomo,” a sentiment seemingly shared by many as the comment racked up over 3,000 likes.
“Quite possibly the biggest ‘fuck you’ I’ve felt as a Kanye fan,” a third put-out follower wrote on Reddit. One more argued: “You don’t like streaming services, cool. Sell the album on your own website. Only sell physical copies, whatever. But to make it only available on a new piece of technology that costs $200? That is beyond absurd and there’s absolutely no way to justify that. All he’s doing is hurting his own fans.”
“200 dollars for an album is ridiculous Kanye 👎🏽” a commenter wrote. “Fuck you, Kanye,” added another, with the remark getting more than 7,000 likes.
“Lots of people currently struggling to make it monetarily and a billionaire wants to charge mostly poor people $200 to listen to some songs. What an asshole,” one more said.
Other fans vowed to illegally pirate the album instead of spending the cash, with one writing: “Expecting fans to cough up $200 each whilst being incredibly wealthy? nah I’ll catch it on thepiratebay cya.”
“Never been more ready to illegally download something in my life,” a second agreed. “KANYE, I AM NOT SPENDING $200 FOR DONDA 2. I'LL FIND THAT SHIT ONLINE 😡🤬” another warned.
The $200 fee for the Stem Player does not include shipping, which is an additional cost, and some fans claimed that the website said they wouldn’t receive the device for three months, despite Donda 2 being released this coming Tuesday.
Ye, who has an estimated $1.8 billion net worth, appeared to address the backlash in a follow-up Instagram post, where he said: “No one can pay me to be disrespected. We set our own price for our art. 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,” Ye went on. “I’m willing to die standing cause I ain’t living on my knees no more. God please cover me. I run this company 100% I don’t have to ask for permission.”
He also broke down how a Stem Player works, telling followers: “You can download new music from stemplayer.com. You can play 4 different elements of the track: vocals, drums, bass and music. It also has a MP3 player available.”
Ye said that at the moment only 67,000 of the devices are available, but they are making 3,000 more a day.
Ye has taken aim at both stars in a series of now-deleted Instagram posts, and just before he promoted his album on Thursday he shared an old clip of Pete discussing him on Saturday Night Live in 2018.
In the resurfaced video, Pete wore a cap that read “Make Kanye 2006 Again” and joked about the star being off his medication as he said to camera: “Being mentally ill is not an excuse to act like a jackass, okay? I’m quoting my therapist, my mom, and my mailman."
“This is not harassment. This is payback,” Ye claimed in the post’s caption, having previously acknowledged that sharing screenshots of his private messages with Kim “came off as harassing” her.
In response, Ye told his 14.2 million Instagram followers: “UPON MY WIFE’S REQUEST PLEASE NOBODY DO ANYTHING PHYSICAL TO SKETE I’M GOING TO HANDLE THE SITUATION MYSELF.”
In addition to his social media posts, Ye has lashed out at Pete in new music, with last month’s release “Eazy” including the lyrics: “God saved me from the crash / Just so I can beat Pete Davidson's ass."
In a more recent track, “City of Gods,” Ye rapped that Pete should “thank” him for letting him be with Kim.
As a result, fans are expecting to hear some more references to both Kim and Pete on Donda 2… If they are willing to cough up the $200 to listen to it.