Say what you will about the frustrating, long, and heavily tweeted-ly documented process (or anti-process) behind the release of Kanye’s The Life of Pablo — but it’s almost impossible at this point to argue that it isn’t an effective deconstruction of the album release cycle. Over the weekend, Kanye displayed just another way of undermining the ways we think about albums, or at least certainly this album. After officially releasing The Life of Pablo — only on TIDAL— last month, the rapper last week claimed the album was still in the process of being finished. And then this weekend, it seemed, that claim became a reality with a few small changes to one song in the version available on TIDAL.
This came to light after a Reddit user named JayElect found changes to the song “Famous” — though not to the Taylor Swift-related line that sparked controversy. (“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why, I made that bitch famous.”) As far as lyrical changes, the Redditor noticed that “She be Puerto Rican Day Parade wavin’,” had been altered to “She in school to be a real estate agent.” He also pointed out that Nina Simone’s voice had seemingly been set beneath Rihanna’s on the song.
Albums are so often thought of as unmoving and complete (remixed and remastered albums are of course often released separately), and with each tweak, the initial reviews of TLoP become just a tiny bit obsolete. But Kanye recently called the Yeezus packaging an “open casket” to CD releasing, declaring that he was finished putting his albums on CD. With the denouncement of physical media, he seems to be reveling in the fluidity of the digital release: first, he undermined the usual title announcement, then the “track list” release, and now he’s just doing it with the whole album, even if just through a few tiny tweaks to one song.