The cold war between music streaming services heated up Friday night as a surprise collaboration between Drake and Lil Wayne – two rappers scooped up during the artist exclusive arms race – caused friction between Tidal and Apple Music. The situation occurred at Lil Wayne’s Lil Weezyana Festival in New Orleans, where Drake stopped by to deliver a brief three-song cameo. One problem: Jay Z’s Tidal, which named Lil Wayne as a co-owner in July, was livestreaming the festival, creating a conflict of interest since Drake is Apple Music’s marquee signee.
As a result of Drake’s appearance, the Tidal live-stream had to briefly pause while the Toronto rapper was onstage. “Apple is interfering with artistry and will not allow this artist to stream. Sorry for Big Brother’s inconvenience,” the Tidal Twitter notified listeners as Drake took the stage. “We’ll be back after the performance.” Drake performed “HYFR” with Wayne, his remix of Fetty Wap’s “My Way” and “Back to Back” during his unannounced Lil Weezyana appearance.
However, contrary to a New York Post story earlier in the day, Drake’s manager Future the Prince denied Tidal’s claims that Apple Music acted as “Big Brother.” “The decision to not have Drake participate in the Tidal stream has nothing to do with Apple or Drake’s deal,” Future the Prince told BuzzFeed. “Point blank, 100 percent. I made a business decision. Apple doesn’t have the power to stop us from being part of a live stream. The only people that have the power to do that are Cash Money and Universal, and they’re our partners.” As for why they elected to withhold Drake from the livestream, the rapper’s manager said, “Aesthetics and quality are important to us and we didn’t have any control over [the livestream] or time to investigate it.”
Representatives from Tidal did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment, while an Apple representative referred Rolling Stone to the BuzzFeed article.
After months of sparring with his longtime label Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne aligned with Tidal to release his Free Weezy Album on July 4th. The LP’s arrival prompted Cash Money to file a $50 million lawsuit against Jay Z’s high-quality streaming service, claiming they still had exclusive rights to Wayne’s output. Cash Money added that Lil Wayne’s Tidal partnership was “a desperate and illegal attempt to save their struggling streaming service.”
Drake, meanwhile, signed an exclusive deal with Apple Music reportedly with $19 million. As part of the agreement, Drake hosts his own Beats 1 radio show as well as provides the service unique content, like the “Energy” music video. Drake was also on hand to speak about the new music service when Apple announced their new streaming endeavor in early June.