With Tidal still unavailable in Japan, Kanye West fans haven't been able to hear his latest album legally — so one producer took matters into his own hands
If you live in a Western country, it’s easy to assume that your music consumption habits reflect those of the wider world — that no one buys music anymore, that everyone uses Soundcloud, that everything is on Spotify. In fact, in Japan, physical sales still vastly outnumber digital, while streaming services like Spotify and Tidal have still yet to launch in the country.
This posed a problem for Kanye West fans. The rapper’s latest opus, The Life of Pablo, was until recently a Tidal exclusive, meaning that the album was off-limits to anyone in the country who wanted to hear the album without downloading it illegally.
Frustrated with its unavailability, one Japanese producer decided to take matters into their own hands. TOYOMU, a producer from Kyoto, set about building his own version of the album without having heard it first.
“In Japan, we couldn’t listen to TLOP officially because of Tidal,” TOYOMU told Pigeons & Planes, “Subscription services in Japan are too slow, most people are still using iTunes and buying CDs. I thought it might be a good idea to make the whole album without listening to it, (but) maybe it’s reverse thinking.”
The result is 印象III : なんとなく、パブロ (Imagining “The Life of Pablo”), an amazing outsider’s take on the album built using sample credits found on WhoSampled, lyrics from Genius, a text-to-speech generator, and TOYOMU’s own imagination. It doesn’t really sound anything like Kanye’s original (although TOYOMU’s creative decisions do occasionally hit close to the rapper’s), but it is a compelling listen nonetheless.
Stream 印象III : なんとなく、パブロ (Imagining “The Life of Pablo”) below.