On Wednesday night's Seattle stop of the Saint Pablo tour, Kanye West expressed his anger with the politics of the music streaming business, specifically how competition between Apple Music and Tidal is hindering his art. He said that conflict between Tidal and Apple is part of the reason that the Throne does not appear on the album version of Drake's "Pop Style," and will prevent a sequel to Watch the Throne from happening. 

Kanye's monologue was impassioned and, as a result, sometimes difficult to follow. Here are a handful of questions we have. 

What does Apple Music have to do with Watch the Throne 2?

Q: Jay Z and Kanye are both part-owners in Tidal. Neither have any publicized stake in Apple Music. Presumably, an album made between the two of them would have nothing to do with Apple’s streaming service. Why does Kanye say that the politics of the streaming economy are affecting the one record that should be hermetically sealed from additional corporate interference?

A: This is an impossible question to answer, in part because Kanye, in true Kanye fashion, isn’t too clear on what, exactly, he’s talking about. When he calls out the politics between streaming services, he could be just conflating the “Pop Style” conflicts with whatever is hampering Watch the Throne 2. Completely hypothetically, though, it could go deeper than that—Kanye could be pushing for the album to not be a Tidal exclusive, for example. Or, there could be a dispute about its exclusivity period on the streaming service—if Kanye wanted it to be on Tidal for two weeks, say, and Jay Z was pushing for it to be on Tidal, and Tidal alone, for good.

Why couldn’t they pull a Radiohead?

Q: What’s stopping Kanye and Jay from releasing an album themselves, like Radiohead did with In Rainbows?

A: Surely they could, but it would involve a serious financial contribution from both to record the project. Given the lyrics of “Saint Pablo,” Kanye is likely hesitant to spend his own money on music—something he’s usually had label support for—when he’s investing so much of his time and money in his fashion endeavors. People would definitely buy the album if they released it themselves out of the blue, but there would still be money left on the table, and both clearly believe that streaming is the future of music. From Jay’s perspective in particular, this would do little for the reputation of Tidal. In fact, a release outside of the service he’s spent so much time and money building cache for would likely harm the streaming service.

What does Kanye’s Tidal contract say?

Q: Since March 2015, when Kanye appeared on stage with Jay Z to help launch Tidal, he’s been involved with the streaming service. Sometimes that means full-voiced support on Twitter and exclusive releases, and at others times the relationship seems far more cloudy. What, if anything, is Kanye required to release on Tidal?

A: Nothing. According to a Tidal spokesperson, he is an artist-owner. So, while he stands to make money from any Tidal releases, he is in no way legally prevented from releasing his next album on Apple Music—or however else he wants. It’s why, weeks after stating that The Life of Pablo would only ever be available on Tidal, the album showed up on Spotify and Apple Music. It’s also why Kanye has been free to discuss an Apple Music exclusive deal, something he did last year and later rapped about on “Saint Pablo.”

What does Drake have to do with this?

Q: Does Kanye recording an album with Drake, who is an Apple Music artist, affect the situation?

A: Maaaaaybe? Both Jay and Kanye worked on a version of “Pop Style” released in advance of Drake’s Views, but their verses did not appear on the album version, according to Kanye, because of Hov’s relationship with Meek Mill, a Roc Nation artist, and because of "some political shit" involving Tidal and Apple. (Weirdly, the version of “Pop Style” with the Throne is available on Apple Music; but it wasn’t heavily promoted by Apple the way Views was.) If Apple Music wouldn’t allow Drake to use verses from Tidal artists on his album, or vice versa, that’s no good for art. But Jay appears on DJ Khaled’s latest album, which was an Apple Music exclusive. This suggests that Apple Music’s policies aren’t strict. Of course, Khaled is managed by Roc Nation, meaning money from Khaled’s project would’ve found its way to Jay via some channel.

Ultimately, it seems that Jay will make the decisions that benefit him financially; or, that pulling out of “Pop Style” could be a sort of “fuck you” to Drake and Apple Music. After all, why support the project of a rival business? True, Jay gave a few lines to Drake initially, but even that reads a bit like a “fuck you.” Like, here’s this pittance. And perhaps Jay feels cool about the prospect of Watch the Throne 2 when Kanye and Drake have discussed their joint album, which would likely have to be an Apple Music exclusive, at least for some period of time, given Drake’s involvement.

Why doesn’t Spotify get brought up?

Q: There’s a name missing from these conversations: Spotify. By its subscriber numbers, the Swedish streaming service is larger than Apple Music and Tidal, combined. If this is really about politics between streaming services, why isn’t one of its biggest names more of a point of contention?

A: It comes down to strategy. In the streaming economy, Apple and Tidal are the primary players dealing in exclusives—signing the biggest names to their platforms. Artists like Jay Z, Beyoncé, Kanye, Drake, Rihanna, and Chance the Rapper give their music to either Tidal or Apple Music exclusively, for a time, ostensibly driving more subscribers to either service. Spotify has largely stayed out of the race for big name exclusives, opting instead to wait the typical two week grace period for the album to hit other services. Whatever is happening here appears to be the streaming economy’s race for exclusive leaking down to the upper echelon of hip-hop.

So, is this personal?

Q: During Wednesday night’s show, Kanye seemed hurt that Jay only called him after Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris, instead of coming by their house to show his support and concern. Is Kanye’s anger with Tidal really him lashing out at Jay?

A: Your guess is as good as mine. Kanye’s comments went past music last night, as he went on to make a personal tirade about his and Jay’s relationship. "Don't call me, after the robbery, and say, 'How you feelin?' You wanna know how I'm feelin? Come by the house," Kanye said. (He also bemoaned the fact that his kids don’t play with Jay and Beyoncé's daughter.) Whatever is going on here, it appears that there’s something else going on underneath the surface, and with Jay inextricably tied to Tidal, it’s tough to parse where the dividing lines of either issue lie.