It’s Personal: Why Jay Z’s Tidal War Is Heating Up With Jimmy Iovine’s Apple Music
There has always been a problem with music industry executives exploiting artists, specifically Black artists.
Throughout Jay Z’s new “4:44” album, released on Thursday, the Brooklyn rapper talks about personal things — his marriage, his daughter, and his views on how capitalism and entrepreneurship can help Black people.
Jay Z calls out the names of dozens of people on the album, including Jimmy Iovine, an executive at Apple Music streaming service. In 2016, Apple was reportedly in negotiations to buy Jay Z’s Tidal music streaming business. Iovine later denied this.
Iovine teamed with Dr. Dre — now considered the world’s richest rapper — in 2006 to found Beats Electronics. Apple bought the company for $3 billion in 2014 and hired Iovine to create Apple Music, the electronics giant’s foray into streaming music.
Jay Z released “4:44” as a digital exclusive on his Tidal streaming service, which he bought in 2015. Here are some of the lyrics from “Smile”:
Fuck 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 niggas playin’ for power, huh
So our music is ours
— lyrics from Jay Z’s “Smile” track on “4:44.”
Before Jay Z took lyrical shots at Apple Music executive Iovine on “4:44”, he pulled most of his music from rival streaming services including Apple’s music streaming platform, Beats Music. The friction between Tidal and Apple seems to have taken a turn for the worse commercially and is now getting personal.
In a statement, Jay Z described the release strategy for “4:44” as a “perfect storm of sharing music with fans.”
Music streaming is dominated by Apple Music and Spotify. Tidal “has relied largely on splashy exclusives from its artist partners to encourage sign-ups, making itself the first — and, in some cases, only — place to hear new music from Kanye West, Rihanna and Beyoncé, whose ‘Lemonade’ has remained a Tidal exclusive since its release in April 2016, New York Times reported.
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