Kanye West Fans Review Stem Player at Donda 2 Show

Kanye West fans braved a lot to get a first look at his new album on Tuesday during his “Donda 2” show in Miami.

Crazed crowds trying to cop pairs of unreleased Yeezys. Seating arrangements packed to capacity. Ticket prices up $400.

But were diehard Ye fans willing to spend $200 on the Stem Player, a new device he says will exclusively stream his new album?

“I respect future Ye but ehhh…” Natasha Gross, 39, said, her voice trailing off as she shook her head. “I just don’t think it’s accessible.”


Halfway between an iPod and a music production center, the Stem Player allows listeners to personalize their musical experience by isolating a song’s vocals, bass, drums, and samples. Shoppers can also play with the tempo, download other albums, and create and save mixes.

These various effects make it clear who West was aiming for when he created the device, says Sem Davilma.

“It’s for beginner artists,” said Davilma, 24. “A lot of people don’t have time to break a piece of music.”

One such performer was 20-year-old Alan Espriella, who flew in from Chicago just to attend West’s premiere. Wearing a Balenciaga Donda t-shirt and a Yeezy Wave Runner 700, Espriella headed straight for one of two Stem Player booths where he waited less than two minutes to grab a device.

“Whenever I hear a song that I like, I like to deconstruct it,” Espriella said. He thinks the Stem Player will make this a bit easier. “I have never heard of a single device that [cuts up songs] and superimpose it.

The $200 price tag – $212 with tax – didn’t really bother Espriella, who called the Stem Player an “investment”.

Whether that investment is worth it is a whole other question. In a recent interview with GQ, Alex Klein, who worked with West to create the Stem Player, pointed out that the cost is more than reasonable considering the capabilities on top of “Donda 2”.

“You’re spending $200 on a revolutionary device that lets you listen to music in a whole new way with stem separation, and lets you mix and make music on the go,” Klein said. to the magazine. “You’re also spending that $200 to be part of a community that wants to change technology and music for the better.”

Yet similar to the skepticism Nipsey Hussle faced for selling his “Crenshaw” mixtape for $100, much of the internet talk surrounding the exclusivity of “Donda 2” who missed his supposed release date on Tuesday – centered on his prospects of making the Western billionaire even richer. That chatter turned into a ruckus after West claimed the device made more than $2 million in 24 hours.

“To earn the $2.2 million we earned on day one on the rod player, the album would have had to be streamed 500 million times,” West wrote on a since-deleted Instagram post. “We made more revenue on stemplayer, without the album even being released, than we would have done with the streaming album.”

While it’s unclear how the Stem Player will affect the album’s revenue, the hype around “Donda 2” might be enough to sway some potential buyers. If the album comes out as it was interpreted (which is always a big if when Kanye is involved), the project would feature a star-studded cast including Future, Jack Harlow, Migos, Travis Scott and XXXTentacion.

However, he was missing from West Mola Dairo’s guest list. As he stood outside LoanDepot Park, holding a sign that read ‘I want a verse on Donda 2’, 22-year-old Dairo, known by his stage name Mola, praised West’s ingenuity. Not only, Dairo said, was the Stem Player inspirational — he once played along with some of his own music on his friend’s device — but, according to Klein, the possibilities are endless.

“Imagine we’re sitting on an airplane,” Dairo said, his voice rising in excitement. “We don’t need to put the thing on a plane or anything. No laptop. Nothing. Get out the Stem Player, we get active there.

This story was originally published February 23, 2022 8:44 a.m.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering race and culture for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their first class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Morehouse College.

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