Ye is a firm advocate for the movement against the music industry, streaming platforms and award shows. The successful rap artist is pushing culture in new directions with his expensive but very “jeen-yuhs” idea that is changing the way music will be experienced forever.
The Stem Player is a compact remixing system and streaming platform device developed by Kano Computing, a technology company from the UK, in collaboration with Kanye West. The device was released in August 2021, corresponding with the release of Ye’s 10th studio album Donda.
The Stem Player offers users the access to remix their favourite tracks using the four haptic sliders and six buttons all within the palm of their hand. With the right amount of practice, users can master remixing their favourite tracks by playing around with the four separate stems. The on-the-go device fits perfectly in your pocket, has bluetooth and can hold up to 8 GB in storage. In better words, the Stem Player is essentially an elevated iPod nano with mixing abilities.
When Ye told fans they could only hear Donda 2 through the digital media player, there was a passive bitterness that stirred up, as fans were not happy to pay over $200 to listen to Ye’s next drop.
At first glance, I too thought the Stem Player was a very unnecessary purchase. I could not comprehend spending my money on a circle object that would play music when my phone essentially did just the same.
In time, I started seeing more conversations surrounding Ye’s Stem Player on Twitter. The custom changing lights, isolated parts feature, audio mixing and effects intrigued me, but when I found out I could connect my Airpods and upload my favourite songs to it, I was immediately sold on this new tech must-have.
When my package arrived, I eagerly ripped open the box to find inside a very small, and very smooth rounded device that weighed only a couple ounces. It came in a dusty rose colored case, with a charging cable and no instructions.
I am not very tech savvy, so I needed the guidance of many YouTube tutorials to understand how to use my Stem Player. At first it was complicated, but with the right amount of time and practice, I began understanding how to put this audio mixing device to work.
The first time I used my Stem Player, I felt this unstoppable confidence, as I walked around my city remixing a combination of tracks all within my pocket. As I passed by pedestrians I thought to myself there was no way they were experiencing music like how I was experiencing music. I felt just like an “im-not-like-other-girls-type-of-girl”.
I have spent my time advocating for the Stem Player, but there is still a feature I am not a fan of: the uploading process. You have to plug in the device, and one-by-one watch each track slowly upload – each track takes at least five-minutes. I do understand the uploading process is a lot more complex due to the player breaking the song into its four stems, but the luxury of saving a song to your device immediately on other streaming platforms is much more manageable and efficient.
The Stem Player takes me back to another time, when uploading music was a complicated process, but I do admire the slowed-down element, as it allows me to cherish each of my uploads.
Regardless of my single complaint, I personally believe the Stem Player is well worth the purchase. It is a very fun device. If you nerd out on music and enjoy mixing tracks, this is a purchase for you. If music is something you’re less intrigued by, save your money and stick to the current streaming platforms.
At the end of the day, Ye is one of culture’s most experimental, creative and innovative artists who is constantly working to bring new ideas to the table while pushing culture forward. This is only the beginning of the Stem Player, as I believe with more changes, and as technology advances, the device will rise to become one of music’s most popular streaming platforms.
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