Ever since Prince died in April of 2016, there have been arguments, rumors, lawsuits (and even the occasional abortive music release) centered on his reported vault of unreleased tracks, as publishers, streaming services, and the legendary musician’s family all battle their way through the complicated web of rights and agreements surrounding his songs. Now, JAY-Z is attempting to cut his way through at least some of this quagmire to get to the sweet music meat hidden within, announcing today that he’s releasing a new album of unheard Prince tracks—on Tidal, of course.
The streaming service was the home for Prince’s last new albums—HITNRUN Phase One and Phase Two—as well as much of his other music during the final years of his life. But Tidal ran into legal trouble with the singer’s estate in the wake of his death, which led to the wider Prince catalog finally making its way to Spotify and other streaming outlets early last year. Now, though, Spin reports that JAY-Z has come to an agreement with the Prince estate, with plans to release a compilation of unheard tracks some time in 2019. The album will be a two-week Tidal exclusive before hitting other streamers, and won’t touch upon any of the music Prince made during his time at Warner Bros.
JAY-Z released a statement about the news today, saying, “Our only goal is to share Prince’s music with his fans as he wanted. After thoughtful and honest conversation with him, he chose TIDAL as his partner for HITnRUN Phase One and HITnRUN Phase Two, and we will continue to respect and honor Prince’s enduring legacy and wishes with this new collection.” (Meanwhile, the company continues to field complaints about reports that it falsely inflated streaming numbers for some of its other big exclusives, like Lemonade and The Life Of Pablo, possibly in an effort to generate larger royalty payments, over the last few years.)