Kanye Wests’ Stem Player: What To Know About Device & How To Listen To His ‘Donda 2’ Album

Forget Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. If you want to listen to 'Donda 2,' you're going to have to shell out for a $200 Stem Player. Here's what you need to know.

View gallery
Image Credit: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Donda 2 will only be available on my own platform, the Stem Player,” Kanye “Ye” West announced on Feb. 17, five days before the sequel to his 2021 album was set to drop. Ye, 44, said that his new album would not be available on “Apple, Amazon, Spotify, or YouTube.” Ye explained this move by saying that today’s music artists “get just 12% of the money the industry makes. It’s time to free music from this oppressive system. It’s time to take control and build our own. Go to stemplayer.com now to order.”

The move was greeted with joy from Kanye’s legion of dedicated supporters (“OMG! THIS IS AMAZING” “Ye da [goat] no [cap]”) and dismay from people who realized just how much it’s going to cost them to listen to this one album. Many flocked to social media to complain or celebrate the move, which got “Donda 2” to trend on Twitter. Ye screenshotted the trends and posted them to his IG on Feb. 18.

“Stem player trending,” he wrote. “Be a part of the revolution. I feel that same feeling like when I first moved to New York to make it in music. I ain’t know what was gonna happen but I knew had to move. After 10 albums after being under 10 contracts, I turned down a hundred-million-dollar Apple [Music] deal. No one can pay me to be disrespected. We set our own price for our art. Tech companies made music practically free so if you don’t do merch sneakers and tours you don’t eat.”

Jay Z made Tidal and fake media attacked him,” continued Kanye. “Well in the words of my big brother. Come and get me. I’m willing to die standing cause I ain’t living on my knees no more. God please cover me. I run this company 100%. I don’t have to ask for permission. This is our 2nd generation stemplayer. We have more things we working on. I feel like how I felt in the first episode of the documentary [2022’s jeen-yuhs].

For those unaware of what a Stem Player is, here’s what you need to know:

What Is Kanye’s Stem Player?

The Stem Player is a collab between Yeezy Tech and electronics company Kano, according to The Verge. It’s a small tan puck computer explicitly made for remixing music. The front of the Stem Player has four touch-sensitive “light sliders” that control the vocals, drums, bass, and samples.

You can isolate parts, add effects, and split any song into those four different tracks – aka “stems.” The Stem Player website also says it offers the following tools: 4-channel lossless audio mixing; real-time loop and speed control; Tactile effects; One hits; Live samples; Save, playback, and share mixes; Customize colors; and Content and software updates from your browser.”

There are buttons that allow you to play, pause, and skip tracks. There is also a way for you to record your remix, with all the effects and changes. “A red line will appear, which signifies that the player has begun recording – after that, you’re free to do what you want until you stop recording by holding the same button down – the default recording time is 60 seconds,” notes Yeezy Mafia’s how-to guide. “Up to four tracks can be stored on the player at one time, and they can be accessed by cycling through your albums (holding down both the previous and next buttons).”

What Are The Specs For The Stem Player?

The Yeezy Tech Stem Player has Bluetooth support, a 97db speaker, a headphone jack, a USB-C power and data port, and 8gb of storage. It supports .AIFF .AIF .FLAC .M4A .MP3 .WAV .WAVE .AAC .ALAC and .MP4 files.

(MediaPunch/Shutterstock)

Can The Stem Player Play More Than ‘Donda 2’?

Yes. To add music to your STEM Player, you need to go to the official website. Connect your Stem Player to your computer, click UPLOAD, and add your music to your player.

“Once you have connected your device, you can add and remove songs, as well as update the firmware,” notes Yeezy Mafia. “The STEM PLAYER supports sound files of various formats but can also use YouTube links.”

Can You Download Music From The Stem Player?

It appears that similar to how you couldn’t download music uploaded to old iPods, you can’t download music from your Stem Player onto your PC or elsewhere. However, many Yeezy fans were already saying they would rather “wait for the leaks” than pay for a Stem Player to hear Donda 2. Plus, as many publications noted, Ye’s The Life of Pablo was initially a Tidal-only exclusive. However, two months after its release, it appeared on Spotify, Apple Music, and other DSPs.

When Did Kanye Make The Stem Player?

The Stem Player made its debut in August 2021, right as he released the first Donda album. However, the device had been in the works for a while. “The technology intent was always clear: How do we make a device that’s super small, loud, that brings people together, and allows you to take the music and hold it in your hand or in your pocket?” Kano CEO Alex Klein told Complex. The device took inspiration from “inspiration from Ye’s Sunday Service, James Turrell’s Roden Crater, and forward-thinking architecture,” per Complex.

“What’s wonderful about Ye is he’s incredibly determined, and he has an extremely high bar,” Alex, a longtime collaborator of Kanye’s, told Complex. “As a company [at Kano], we’ve shipped over 1.2 million units, and we’ve done it with major brands like Microsoft and Disney and Warner Brothers. Although there’s so much to love about everyone I’ve worked with over the years on all of these products from a design perspective, Ye as a product thinker, his bar is so very high.

Is Kanye West’s Stem Player Worth It?

“The Stem Player certainly seems like an interesting tool for making and remixing music, including Ye’s own Donda 2, with the soft, tactile elements of the player lending themselves to an easy, screenless introduction to music production,” writes British GQ’s review of the player. However, the steep price doesn’t really offset the fact that it’s a “fun music-mixing gadget, and with only 8GB of storage, you won’t be throwing away your trusty music player yet.”

 

More From Our Partners