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A California man sued rappers Jay Z and Kanye West on Monday, alleging they conned fans into joining the streaming service Tidal by promising exclusive access to West's latest album — only to see it later appear on other services.
In a 26-page action filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, attorneys for Justin Baker-Rhett seek class-action status for the suit to represent as many as 2 million current and former subscribers to Tidal, which is run by Jay Z's S. Carter Enterprises (Jay Z's real name is Shawn Corey Carter).
At a time when it was "quietly teetering on the brink of collapse," Tidal more than doubled its subscriber base from 1 million to 2.5 million in 10 days after West tweeted to his 21 million Twitter followers that his album "The Life of Pablo" would be exclusive to Tidal, the suit alleges.
Just a month and half later, the album was made available on Apple Music, Spotify and West's own website, the suit alleges — even though Baker-Rhett and others "subscribed to Tidal specifically because he was misled into believing that it was the only music platform on which The Life of Pablo album would ever be available," according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that "the deceptive marketing ploy" helped Tidal collect consumers' personal data and increase its subscriber and streaming numbers, putting the value of the allegedly fraudulently amassed data at $84 million.
Baker-Rhett's attorney, Jay Edelson, told NBC News on Monday that West "chose his words very carefully, that he was intending for his fans to rely upon them and that he bragged afterward when he was able to mobilize millions of people to sign up for Tidal."
"Our view is that there are two Kanyes: Kanye the entertainer and Kanye the businessman," Edelson said. "Kanye the entertainer says I'm going run for president in 2020 and nobody believes that. Kanye the businessman knows how to drive his loyal fans to buy his album and to subscribe to his streaming service."
Representatives for West and Jay Z didn't respond to requests for comment. As recently as Sunday, Tidal was still tweeting promotions for West's music on its site.