Kanye West will not sit idly by as — well, pretty much ever. But he certainly won’t sit idly by as he’s accused of swindling music consumers.
“808s & Heartbreak” rapper West has fired back in a lawsuit accusing him of falsely claiming that his album “The Life of Pablo” would be exclusively released on Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service, only to have the album released on other streaming services afterward.
In court papers filed Monday in federal court in New York, West’s legal team contends that the rapper committed no wrongdoing, because the other releases of the album were alternate versions.
“As Mr. West has chronicled in his Twitter feed, his ‘The Life of Pablo’ is like no other album in that it is a ‘living breathing changing creative expression,'” the court papers read. “He has altered lyrics, changed vocals, added new beats, and remixed songs. In other words, the original version of ‘The Life of Pablo,’ which debuted on Tidal in February 2016, was always exclusive to it. The versions of ‘The Life of Pablo’ that are available on other streaming services are different from the original, Tidal-only version.”
For this and other reasons, West is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
West was sued over the matter in April 2016. The suit, filed by Justin Baker-Rhett, contends that Tidal part-owner West tweeted that “The Life of Pablo” would “never never be available on Apple. And it will never be for sale … You can only get it on Tidal.”
However, West changed his tune — and made it much more widely available — a month and a half later, when “The Life of Pablo” suddenly was offered via Apple Music, Spotify and in West’s online marketplace, the suit says.
By then, the suit says, Tidal had benefited greatly, with subscriptions spiking from 1 million to 3 million in a month.
In the process, the complaint says, Tidal collected customers’ data, including email addresses, social media account information and “other personally identifiable information” from subscribers as young as 13 years old.
In all, the suit claims that the supposed exclusivity of West’s album was worth “as much as $84 million to Tidal.”
“Consumers were uniformly tricked into handing over their private data and credit card information by a singular mistruth,” says the suit, filed by Justin Baker-Rhett. He’s representing a class of people who he says were duped into subscribing to Tidal.
Alleging fraudulent inducement, unjust enrichment and other claims, the suit is seeking unspecified damages.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.