Kanye West and Tidal to face lawsuit for falsely claiming 'Life of Pablo' to be an exclusive release, judge rules

A judge has ruled that Kanye West and Tidal must face the consequences over the furore caused when the rapper falsely announced that his 2016 hit album ‘The Life of Pablo’ would be a Tidal exclusive.

Back in April 2016, a lawsuit was brought against Kanye and Jay-Z‘s streaming service Tidal when Kanye told fans that his album ‘The Life of Pablo‘ would only be available on Tidal – only to releasing it on all streaming services. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of disgruntled fan Justin Baker-Rhett, who said the case was for him and other fans in his situation.

"My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal," Kanye tweeted on 15 February 2016, causing fans to rush to sign up to the service. After its February 2016 Tidal release, the album was subsequently made available on all major non-Tidal streaming services, including Apple Music, on March 31, 2016, landing at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. 

Tidal fought the lawsuit, and in a motion to dismiss, Kanye last year said that ‘The Life of Pablo' had been “updated and remixed numerous times, with different vocals, lyrics, and arrangements.” He contended that his tweet was true because only these newly updated and remixed versions of The Life of Pablo “have been made available for purchase or streaming on platforms other than Tidal.”

Album art for Kanye West's 'The Life of Pablo', which was supposed to have released as a Tidal exclusive, but was made available on most major streaming services soon after. (Image Source: Twitter)

However, according to Pitchfork, a judge ruled: “Mr. West’s argument is tenuous, and certainly does not pass muster in the context of a motion to dismiss.”

As Pitchfork reports, according to an 18-page document obtained by the music publication, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Woods did grant some parts of Tidal’s motions to dismiss the proposed lawsuit, but denied other parts – allowing the case to go ahead. The report also goes on to say that while representatives for Tidal and Kanye West are yet to make a statement, a lawyer for Baker-Rhett cheered the judge’s ruling.

“The defendants made a bunch of arguments to get the case thrown out but the court accepted our core premise: what we alleged constitutes consumer fraud, the lawyer, Jay Edelson told Pitchfork. “The court wants us to amend our pleadings and, based on how it decided certain issues, we won’t easily be able to have one nationwide class. That means that we will be bringing a bunch of state-by-state class actions. This is a bit of a ‘be careful what you wish for’ situation for the defendants.”


Edelson also tweeted playfully that he would be questioning West in the case and snuck in a reference to Lil Dicky in the tweet as well. "I just FaceTimed #kanye, told him I’m his biggest fan. Holey s@ I’m going to depose him," he tweeted.

He cleared the air about the intention of the tweet while talking to Pitchfork. “My tweet was, obviously playful (and a reference to Lil Dicky), but my point was serious,” he said. “We now will have a chance to move on with this case, including deposing Kanye.”

Meanwhile, Kanye's latest album 'ye', which dropped earlier this month has been sweeping the charts. Kanye landed his eighth #1 album in a row on the Billboard 200 chart after his latest studio effort debuted straight on top of the list. The feat ties him with The Beatles and Eminem, who are the only two other artists to hit 8 straight No. 1 albums in a row.