“Prince left his masters where they safe and sound” - Jay Z
Bragging different is a quality to Jay’s lyricism that has always made his raps charming. He’ll say things that the average man can only wish for, the average rapper can only envy, and the average businessmen can only imagine. From the hottest chick wearing his chain to making the Yankee fitted more famous than the Yankees, he has been a master of braggadocio. His appearance on Fat Joe and Remy Ma's “All The Way Up" remix was a clinic in boasting only Jay could teach, specifically the line about Prince’s masters.
When the deity of soul, funk and purple sadly passed away early this year, the only streaming service that could host Prince’s music was Tidal. Prince pulled all his music from Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, and gave Jay Z and Tidal exclusive rights to his music. Besides Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Rihanna’s Anti and Kanye’s The Life of Pablo, Prince’s public discography is one of Tidal’s most alluring exclusive offers.
After his death, the desire for Prince's music has skyrocketed. This is the destiny for any iconic musical legend; the love is at its most vigorous after your passing. I’m certain Tidal was able to see a surge of subscribers due to being the epicenter for all of Prince's music. Jay Z already has his hands on the material that has been made public, but now he’s plotting to secure the unreleased songs, albums, and videos trapped in Prince's legendary vault, which is rumored to contain enough music for material to be released for the next 100 years. I don’t know if that’s humanly possible, but death is the most human thing Prince has done in his entire life.
As reported by TMZ, sources close to Prince's family have revealed that Jay has made a $40 million dollar bid for what is hidden in the vault.
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The number may be inaccurate, but I do believe that Jay Z is looking to complete his Prince collection with all the material that’s been hidden away. He isn’t the only one—I suspect all major streaming services are doing whatever they can to acquire what Prince left behind. Apple Music would benefit largely. I remember after Prince died, Ebro gave an excellent tribute to the legend on his Beats 1 radio program, but due to the merciless laws of streaming, the episode is missing from his Apple archives.
Intuition tells me that Apple is hungry, but Jay is in a more dire position. Apple hasn’t had any problems with exclusives this year―Drake, Chance, Frank Ocean and Travis Scott, while Tidal hasn’t delivered exclusive projects from celebrities of equal caliber since the power trio of Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Kanye at the very beginning of the year. Yes, they had Desiigner’s New English, T.I.’s Us Or Else, and Twenty88's self-titled album, but those are crumbs to Apple’s gigantic cookies. If streaming is going to be a war of exclusives, Jay needs a bigger weapon.
Prince is a giant, but I don’t know if in 2016 he has the ability to scare or topple Tidal’s competitors. While Apple is reaching for the stars of today, Jay's next move is about bringing back to life an icon who was dominating the industry before the internet. I believe people want to listen to Prince, but will they sign up for Tidal to do so? The younger demographic got a big introduction to Prince this year, but will they be enthused for all the posthumous albums to come? Is the generation that grew up on, adored and cherished Prince going to use Tidal for the sake of hearing all the music he kept from their ears all those years ago? I think Prince is worth every penny of that $40 million, but if it’s a desperate purchase to keep Tidal afloat, Prince might not be the best purchase to plug the holes in a sinking cyber ship.
It’s also possible that having all of Prince's music is merely a tactic to increase the value of Tidal. If it’s true that Apple was (is?) trying to buy Tidal, imagine what the price would be with Prince’s vault as the cherry on top. Jay Z is a chess player―thoughtful, strategic and ambitious. He sees a great amount of worth in what Prince left behind, and I’m certain he’ll go above and beyond to obtain the vault.
The question is, how will this purchase affect the future of Tidal? Sadly, I know how it will affect the future of music. Once again, the listeners will have to suffer from having incredible music locked behind a firewall. Prince masters may be safe and sound, but they’re birds singing from a Tidal cage. While the big bosses, and their big businesses, fight their battle, fans continue to lose the bigger war.
By Yoh, aka Yohclusive, aka @Yoh31