In March, the Jay Z-helmed music streaming service Tidal launched alongside some of the industry’s wealthiest stars at an event that quickly turned off scores of potential subscribers.
Saturday, the rap figure took to the offensive by attacking Apple, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube, and even hinted that Tidal’s critics might be racist.
According to Page Six, Hova hosted a Tidal exclusive concert Saturday night for subscribers at Terminal 5 in New York City, and took to the stage before the start of the show for a freestyle rap performance in defense of the service.
While Tidal was originally billed as being created to put control of music back in the hands of struggling artists, the service’s introduction alongside Madonna, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Rhianna arguably hurt the brand’s image, and Tidal flopped.
Jay Z addressed his subscribers Saturday, saying in a freestyle rap, “So I’m the bad guy now I hear, because I don’t go with the flow.”
“I don’t need no middle man to talk to my n–gas . . . I don’t take no checks,” he rapped. “I take my respect. Pharrell even told me go with the safest bet. Jimmy Iovine offered a safety net. Google dangled around a crazy check.”
He continued, “I feel like YouTube is the biggest culprit. Them n–gas pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get. You know n–gas die for equal pay, right? You know when I work I ain’t your slave, right?”
He then connected Tidal’s poor performance with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray, and inferred his competitors’ attacks were racially motivated:
“Well I can’t tell how they killed Freddie Gray, right, shot down Mike Brown how they did Tray, right?
Let ‘em continue choking n—as, we gonna turn style, I ain’t your token n—a.
“You bought nine iPhones and Steve Jobs is rich, Phil Knight is worth trillions, you still bought them kicks, Spotify is nine billion, they ain’t say s–t.
Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do, the only one they hating on looks just like you.”
In an attempt to get listeners to pay for music, Tidal announced it would offer no free option; instead users would have to pay $10 per month for digital-quality audio, or $20 per month for higher-definition CD-quality audio.
The app for the service fell out of the top 700 for U.S. iPhone users within a few weeks, and Tidal fired CEO Andy Chen and laid off 25 other staff in a “streamlining” move.
Jay-Z bought Tidal earlier this year from the Swedish company Asprio for $56 million.
Watch the video of Jay Z’s freestyle below: