The Time Kanye West Totally Botched the Release of ‘The Life of Pablo’

Between new album names, endless revisions and technical snafus, the release of West’s 2016 record was mired in problems

Last Updated: June 1, 2018 @ 6:02 PM

Update, Friday June 1: Yep, we called it — Kanye changed the title of the record to “Ye,” and also changed the cover art. Read about the mixed reaction to the new record here.

Kanye West’s new album “Love Everyone” comes out June 1. Or at least we think it does. Or at least we think it’s called “Love Everyone.”

Everything we think we know, we know only because Kanye West said so on Twitter. And well, Kanye says a lot of things on Twitter, so no one is sure whether to take anything he says (or even his music) seriously. Hell, for years we all thought the new record would be called “Turbo Grafx 16.”

For all we know, “Love Everyone,” his eighth album, is only a 7-song album called “Love Everyone” until Kanye decides otherwise. But if he ends up adding more songs, changing the title, or shifting it to another release date, at least we’re on familiar ground. All that and more happened with his last album too, right down to the tweets.

That album was 2016’s “The Life of Pablo,” which people previously thought would be called “SWISH,” or maybe “Waves,” or perhaps “So Help Me God.” But for Kanye, who also declared Bill Cosby innocent just before it came out, changing the title was just a warm up.

After debuting the record with a Feb.11 listening session at Madison Square Garden, Kanye spent the next three days tinkering with it until he had, essentially, a different album, which was officially released on Feb. 14.

That should have been the end of it, but Yeezy wasn’t finished. After making “Pablo” available for purchase on his website for a few brief hours, he yanked it and vowed (in a since-deleted tweet) that it would never be released for sale, ever, and would be a Tidal-only exclusive.

Kanye very quickly changed his mind about that, tweeting hours later that digital album sales would only be delayed by a week. Even so, Tidal briefly became the number one downloaded app in Apple’s App Store. Great news for Tidal, except for one tiny screw-up: thousands of people who subscribed specifically for “Pablo” never received a download link. Some of them were even hit with multiple unexplained processing fees.

But that’s not all. While all of this was going on, Kanye took a few moments to claim that whole ordeal put him $53 million in debt, begged Mark Zuckerberg for a $1 billion investment in “Kanye West ideas,” and he reignited his beef with Taylor Swift. Also, he squeezed in a performance on the 40th anniversary episode of “SNL.”

Again, to be clear: all of that happened during a single 24-hour period, Feb. 14-15, 2016.

“The Life of Pablo” turned out fine in the end. Kanye continued to tweak the record, which he eventually called a “living breathing changing creative expression,” a narrative critics largely embraced. A final version was finally released on multiple streaming and digital purchase platforms on April 1. (As far as we can tell, the timing was coincidental.) Critics mostly liked it too, and it eventually went platinum. The same could end up being true for “Love Everyone” if it’s actually good, despite his recent weirdness.

All the same, maybe wait a couple of days before you buy it. And probably don’t ask Taylor if she likes it.