1. As a young man, Jay Z spent an indeterminate amount of time dealing crack cocaine in the neighborhood he grew up in.
2. He was so good at dealing crack that he managed to make a small fortune from it and elude any serious legal consequences.
3. He left selling crack behind completely, instead choosing to rap about A) selling crack, B) the money he made while selling crack, and C) the things he did to and with the women attracted to the money he made while selling crack.
4. He was so good at rapping about selling crack and every (mostly good) thing that happened to him as a result of selling crack that he was able to build an entire career off of it and turn his small crack-fueled fortune into a much, much larger one.
5. While doing this, he literally started referring to himself as God ("J-Hova"). And he was so convincing that most of his fans now literally and affectionately refer to him as God ("Hov") too.
Nothing said here about Jay Z is untrue. It's simplistic and lacks context, but none of it is false. It's all easily googleable, and many people (including Jay Z himself) have no problem verifying it. It is also more than enough reason for a person to harbor a strong distaste for him. I personally don't — I'm not Jay Z's biggest fan, but I am a fan of his music — but I do recognize that it is not unreasonable to "hate" a person who made a large profit selling crack to his own people and increased that fortune exponentially by bragging about how great he was at it. Basically, there are many perfectly valid reasons to hate Jay Z without being a "hater."
But while hating Jay Z is one thing, hating the concept of Tidal because Jay Z happens to be behind it is another. You are, effectively, being a hater.
And I know this because I was a hater too.
Actually, "hate" is too strong of a word. I did not hate on Tidal. I did, however, view this venture with the type of cynicism reserved for when you don't actively want something to fail but aren't particularly unhappy if it does. This feeling started with the bizarre press conference with Jay Z and his superfriends all promoting an entity designed to put more money in their pockets; continued when news surfaced that the launch was a disaster (and led to a restructuring of the entire company); and continued to crescendo each time an increasingly-desperate-to-make-Tidal-relevant Jay Z attempted to incentivize us into joining. Free concerts, music giveaways, exclusive videos; at this pace he's a week away from free pizza and a lap dance from Amil.
But he's also not wrong. At least not conceptually. Tidal does have its flaws, but any entity designed to put more money into the hands of the people creating a product instead of the people who created the means the product is received is a good thing. A very good thing. The right thing.
And exactly how right it is — and how wrong I was to be so cynical — didn't completely dawn on me until yesterday evening. The Wife Person and I were driving back from a Memorial Day trip to Deep Creek Lake, located in a part of West Virginia that's technically Maryland and is only technically Maryland because someone had to have lost a bet a couple hundred years ago. (Seriously, go look at a map and see how ridiculous this shit is.)
I was listening to Busta Rhymes' E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front — an album I had absolutely no reason to listen to aside from the fact that Spotify's million-deep library of songs and albums allows you to be randomly nostalgic for shit you haven't heard (or even thought about) since 1999. And, since we were driving through mountain-ridden West Virginia, Spotify was having random outages, leading to random 80 second spans of no music. Which, of course, led to me complaining about the lack of music.
It wasn't until later that evening did I really recognize how absurd it was that I even thought to complain about an insignificant gap in the service of a product that gives me access to millions of songs — songs created by actual people who actually worked to create these songs — for $10 a month. This recognition led to another realization.
I am spoiled as fuck.
So spoiled, so used to not having to pay for what I consume (or paying a pittance for it), that it warped my perception of reality. A reality I actually have a personal connection to. I am a person who creates things that people consume and does this with the expectation that I will get paid for it, but my Tidal-based cynicism is largely due to A) already having access to a streaming service that I pay less money for and B) it being promoted by a successful artist. And it (the cynicism) existed even with being fully aware that the other service costs more because it's giving a higher percentage of its profits to the people who create the music.
Is this enough to make me sign up for Tidal today? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. I just know I can't hate and listen to "Gimme Some More" in peace. So I choose peace.