Jay Z fired back at critics of his struggling music streaming service Tidal during a special “B-sides” concert Saturday at Terminal 5 in New York.
The iconic rapper and music mogul delivered on his promise to offer special content to Tidal subscribers by performing two decades of hits in a show that streamed live for subscribers. Hov also offered free tickets to thousands of Tidal users who created the best B-sides playlists — helping him pick out what to perform.
During an epic freestyle, the “H to the Izzo” rapper called out racial injustice and paid tribute to Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Trayvon Martin. The music legend also took aim at Tidal critics and dissed competitors Spotify, Apple and YouTube.
“So I’m the bad guy now I hear,” Jay said, referring to Tidal criticism. “All because I don’t go with the flow and ain’t nobody taking advantage of me. And I love my ni**as… I don’t know why everyone is acting like this is brand new. They ain’t give me a record contract, so I made my own record company… I’m never gonna go with the flow. I’m never gonna let nobody take over our music. I see s**t that maybe you don’t see.”
He then took aim at Tidal’s competitors. “I feel like YouTube is the biggest culprit. Them ni**as pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get. You know ni**as die for equal pay right? You know when I work I ain’t your slave right?”
In a throwback to his 2000 collaborative album “The Dynasty: Roc La Familia,” Jay invited some of his Roc-A-Fella Records crew onstage, including Memphis Bleek, Young Gunz, Freeway and Beanie Sigel. Jay also did a tribute to blues legend B.B. King, who died on Thursday. After playing a portion of King’s hit “The Thrill Is Gone,” Jay said: “Rest in peace big homie.”
Tidal launched last year and was bought by Jay Z in January for a reported $56 million. He relaunched the app on March 30. Tidal is seen as a rival to Spotify, though it doesn’t have a free, ad-supported version. Standard definition streaming starts at $9.99 a month, and a high definition audio version goes for $19.99.
The service is aiming to differentiate itself from competitors like Spotify by locking down exclusive streaming windows with artists. Beyoncé recently released an exclusive track on the service to coincide with her and Jay Z’s seventh wedding anniversary.
Despite its lofty goals, Tidal has been hit with a barrage of criticism, not just from fans, but from performers alike, including Mumford & Sons and Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard.
Watch the video of Jay Z’s two-hour concert. His freestyle rap is at the 17:18 mark.
Below is a transcription of his freestyle from the “B-sides” concert:
“Don’t ever go with the flow, be the flow
And I don’t need no middle man to talk to my ni**as
I understand if you don’t understand, I figure I’m Jigga
That’s where we differ
I take what’s mine, you accept what they give you, I get you
I don’t take no checks, I take my respect
Pharrell even told me go with the safest bet
Jimmy Iovineoffered a safety net
Google dangled ’round a crazy check
I feel like YouTube is the biggest culprit
Them ni**as pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get
You know ni**as die for equal pay right?
You know when I work I ain’t your slave right?
You know I ain’t shucking and jiving and high-fiving, and you know this ain’t back in the days right?
Well I can’t tell, how the way they killed Freddie Gray right?
Shot down Mike Brown how they did Tray right?
Let them continue choking ni**as,
We gon’ turn style, I ain’t your token ni**a
You know I came in this game independent, right?
Tidal, my own lane, same difference
Oh ni**as is skeptical about they own shit
You bought nine iPhones and
Steve Jobsis rich
Phil Knight worth trillions you still bought those kicks
Spotify is nine billion and they ain’t say sh*t!
‘Lucy you got some ‘splaining to do’
The only one they hating on look the same as you…
That’s cool, I know they trying to bamboozle you
Spending millions on media trying to confuse you
I had to talk to myself, ‘Hov you used to it’
It’s politics as usual”