Apple in Talks to Exclusively Release Kanye West’s New Album

The burning question: like Beyoncé, or like U2?
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Kanye West

Later today at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, Apple is widely expected to announce their new music streaming service, following their $3 billion acquisition of Beats Music last year. More on that Spotify/Tidal competitor as information becomes available. 

If the prospect of yet another music streaming service entering the crowded space isn’t very exciting, maybe this will pique your interest. Here’s Brendan Klinkenberg, who usually has well-placed sources, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Sources familiar with Apple’s new music-streaming service tell BuzzFeed News that when the company rolls Apple Music out to the public, it will indeed do so with limited or “windowed” exclusives from some big-name artists. And one artist it’s been pursuing aggressively with the help of Beats Music co-founder Jimmy Iovine — now an Apple employee following the company’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics last year — is Kanye West.

Apple is particularly keen on an exclusive from West’s forthcoming album, currently — but not definitively titled Swish. Sources say the company has been talking to him about it for some time, but hasn’t yet been able to finalize a deal, and negotiations between West and Iovine continue.

It’s probably safe to assume that were Apple to exclusively release Kanye West’s new album, it would resemble their roll-out of Beyoncé and not Songs of Innocence. We’d like to think Apple, who talk a big game about privacy, learned their lesson after that U2 fiasco. But it would probably be more accurate to assume that the explicit and controversial nature of Kanye West’s music would keep the album from automatically downloading onto the 800 million iTunes accounts that exist today. A free, optional Kanye West album, though? That would be something. 

And now: a brief history of Kanye West’s new album—

Kanye West was inordinately active in the first three months of 2015. He dropped his single with Paul McCartney, “Only One”, on New Years. A few weeks later he appeared on Rihanna’s big, strummy DUI anthem “FourFiveSeconds” (also with Macca). Just a few weeks after that he performed “Wolves” on SNL’s 40th anniversary special with Sia and Vic Mensa (an official studio track was never released) and dropped off “All Day” at the BRIT Awards. With the constant post-Beyoncé threat of “surprise albums” hanging over our heads at all times, and considering Yeezus’ own quick-paced roll-out, it wasn’t farfetched to think Kanye’s new LP—at some point called So Help Me God, then changed to the less effective Swish—was literally just around the corner.

But then Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly came out and Kanye’s musical output has hit the brakes ever since. But try not to read too much into that.