Kanye West’s New Album Donda 2 Will Only Be Released On His $200 Stem Player


By all accounts, it seems like Kanye West’s Donda 2 is really going to be released. But it wouldn’t be a Kanye drop if the album just, you know, came out. West announced the latest wrinkle in a February 17 Instagram post, revealing that the LP will not be available on any of the major streaming services. Instead, it’ll live solely on the stem player that he designed and released in conjunction with last year’s Donda.

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 [percent] 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.”

Currently, the stem player retails for $200. Per KanyeWest.com, it gives purchasers the ability to “customize any song” and “split any song into stems,” meaning that you can isolate the individual vocal and instrumental tracks. The player currently comes loaded with Donda, as well as a few bonus tracks, but users can upload other songs to it as well. Kanye’s statement didn’t make it clear whether existing owners will be able to access Donda 2 free-of-charge, or if they’ll have to shell out another $200 for a new player. (The stem player’s website also hasn’t been updated to reflect what will happen.)

“Artist releases album on their expensive, proprietary technology” sounds like a goof, but the stem player does exist, and is consistent with a widely-circulated Kanye post where he said he was not interested in getting into NFTs because “I make music and products in the real world.” Eager fans can find the stem player available on eBay selling for as low as $125 and as high as $1,000. A quick YouTube search shows fan made remixes both of Donda tracks and unrelated songs like Lil Uzi Vert’s “That Way.” and Tyler, the Creator’s “EARFQUAKE.”

When the stem player was released last November, it was reviewed by tech platforms like CNET and PC Mag. In a mostly positive review, PC Mag said, “While the Donda Stem Player is an imaginative and surprisingly flexible music creation tool, it’s more of a toy than a path to superstardom.” The site also praised its ability to support a wide range of file formats and the “various fun audio effects” the player lets one use. In recent years, an increasing number of artists have released albums as stems, including Charli XCX with 2020’s How I’m Feeling Now, 100 gecs with 2020’s 1000 gecs, and Nine Inch Nails, who were early pioneers of the medium.

In a February 18 follow-up post, West wrote, “I feel that same feeling like when I first moved to New York to make it in Music. I ain’t know what was gonna happen but I knew [I] had to move. After 10 albums after being under 10 contracts. I turned down a hundred million dollar Apple deal. No one can pay me to be disrespected. We set our own price for our art.” He also likened releasing Donda 2 through the stem player to Jay-Z founding Tidal, and said that his mentor was attacked by “fake media” for doing so.

“Well in the words of my big brother. Come and get me. I’m willing to die standing cause I ain’t living on my knees no more. God please cover me,” West said.

Still, despite West’s noble intentions, many fans online have expressed frustration over the high price point on the stem player. Donda 2 is slated to come out on February 22, coinciding with a stadium show in Miami. Who knows, maybe you’ll have to bring the stem player to go to that, too.





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