Ghostface Killah (aka Dennis Coles) has released a new track exclusively on the Stem Player – the personal music listening/remixing device launched with Kanye West’s ‘Donda’ album – with a full album due to follow later this month.
West was a key figure in the Stem Player’s release; the device – which, as its name implies, allows users to isolate and remix a song’s stems in realtime – was branded as a collaboration between the tech upstart Kano Computing and West’s own brand, Yeezy (via the offshoot Yeezy Tech).
First launched in August of 2021, the Stem Player came in conjunction with ‘Donda’ (and had the album preloaded onto it), and was directly posed to West’s fans as the only official avenue to hear its follow-up, last February’s ‘Donda 2’. It can, however, be used to play other songs at the owner’s own volition – provided they can be split into four isolated tracks – and Kano have now announced several new versions that will have no ties to West or come preloaded with ‘Donda’.
Two of the new Stem Players were developed by Kano in tandem with Coles – similarly to how they branded West’s ‘Donda’ version – with one being cream coloured, and the other being black. Both will come with a suite of exclusive videos and roving invites to meet-ups and concerts, but only the “premium” black edition will feature all 10 songs of Coles’ (as-yet-untitled) 14th Ghostface Killah album; the cream Stem Player will come with half the amount.
Both Ghostface Killah-branded Stem Players are available to pre-order now – here for the cream variant, and here for the black one – and will ship next month. The cream player retails at $240 (£197) and is not limited in stock, while the black player will cost an extra $120 ($360 total, or £296) and is limited to 360 units.
Already available to stream on the Stem Player is Coles’ latest single as Ghostface Killah, a punchy East Coast hip-hop belter called ‘6 Minutes’. Without the artist’s own branded players, fans will only be able to stream it (legally) through a monthly subscription service – which currently offers ‘6 Minutes’ and remixes, and come January 31, will be expanded with the rest of Coles’ new album and the aforementioned bonuses – boasting a price tag of $20 (£16).
A preview of the song can be heard by signing up to a mailing list (which also offers info on the subscription) here.
Speaking to Fast Company, Coles – who is also a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan – said of the project: “This is music for these people who care about me. I’m not saying people don’t care about me, but when you’ve got dedicated Ghostface or Wu-Tang fans – these are hardcore fans for life.”
It’s reported that beyond his new album, Coles will continue to release songs exclusively through the Stem Player and his accompanying subscription, as well as other exclusive content and updates (described as being “similar to OnlyFans”) including streams viewable through the Stem Projector. He’s also reportedly planning a Stem Festival, due to be held later in 2023, with the Stem Player itself virtually functioning as a ticket.
Touching on his overall ambitions for the Stem Player subscription, Coles said: “This is what I’m getting you. Every few months, take that! It’s nothing for me to go in the studio and cook something up and just give it to [fans]. I don’t care about that. If you want it, you’re going to go get it.”
The West-free relaunch of the Stem Player comes as Kano continues to distance itself from the controversial rapper, following his recent string of antisemitic comments, Nazi apologism and otherwise offensive actions.
In Fast Company’s profile of Kano, it’s explained that West had once been in talks to acquire the British company, and came close when he made a $4million (£3.3million) offer alongside Ali Alexander (one of the key figures in the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the US Capitol building).
According to Gustavo Guerra – the producer behind Kano’s Ghostface Killah-branded Stem Players – more artists will soon announce their own collaborations with the company. “I feel like this is the new form of distribution,” he told Fast Company. “[West] kicked it off, now [Coles] is gonna kick in the door.”
Though West’s iteration of the Stem Player was slammed by critics for gatekeeping access to music with its outlandish costs, the device was ultimately successful, drawing in over $2.2million (£1.8million) in sales after just 24 hours on the market.
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