Apple and JAY-Z don’t see eye-to-eye.
JAY-Z owns a large stake in the streaming service Tidal, which is notorious for debuting new music exclusively for a short window, and keeping it off competitors like Apple Music and Spotify.
The New York rapper calls out Apple Music exec and industry legend Jimmy Iovine in a song from his new album “4:44,” which is, of course, exclusively available to stream on Tidal (for now).
In the song “Smile,” Jay raps about his beef with Apple and the streaming music industry as a whole:
“F— a slice of the apple pie, want my own cake / Chargin’ my own fate / Respect Jimmy Iovine / But he gotta respect the Elohim as a whole new regime / And n—– playin’ for power, huh / So our music is ours”
JAY-Z relaunched Tidal in 2014 with a roster of other A-list artists as a response to other streaming platforms paying low royalties to artists. (Tidal claims to pay more royalties and was set up as a co-ownership with JAY-Z’s artist friends, like Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Madonna.)
When Apple launched Apple Music in 2015, it ignited a war with Tidal by paying top dollar for exclusive music releases. Tidal struck back with its own exclusives, like Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo.”
But Tidal has struggled to grow its business and faced numerous setbacks over the past couple of years, and Apple was rumoured to be eyeing a takeover last fall. Apple’s Iovine denied the rumour at the time, and Jay later sold a third of Tidal to Sprint for a reported $US200 million.
Whether Jay would have sold to Apple or not, his message on “4:44” is clear: at least he’s still his own boss.