The ‘Stem Player’: Kanye West’s Tech Debut


Alfonso Belloso

The Stem Player connected to a MacBook Air. (Photo by Alfonso Belloso | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Alfonso Belloso, Arts Writer


On Feb. 22, Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, held a listening party at LoanDepot Park in Miami for the release of his new album “Donda 2.”  The 22-time Grammy award winner made the album available exclusively to owners of the Stem Player, a state-of-the-art music playing device created by Ye and Kano Computing.

A Star is Born

The Stem Player is the debut product from Ye’s technology venture, Yeezy Tech. The device allows listeners to play back music that’s been separated into four isolated stems — vocal, instrument, drum and bass. Using touch sensitive controls, songs can be manipulated during playback. Elements of a song are controlled on the device, turning the average music listener into a music producer. The device provides effects and production options including repeat, reverse, speed up, slow down, noise gates and reverb.

The Stem Player arrives in a small case lined with an elegant nude fabric. It has a magnetic mouth that opens similarly to Apple AirPods. The exterior of the player has six buttons, a 16-light customizable color display and a rubber exterior. Complete with a minimalist design, the Stem Player has presented itself as a music device for the future and one that can be appreciated by anyone with an interest in music production.

Ye vs. Jobs

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the first generation iPhone at the MacWorld Expo in January 2007. The iPhone’s unveiling created a ripple for the future of technology, culture and — for better or for worse — the world. While the release of the Stem Player is only the first step towards establishing Ye’s presence in the tech industry, it pales in comparison to the iPhone release. This does not mean that Ye isn’t determined to someday achieve the same level of ingenuity as Jobs. In the past, Ye has even credited Steve Jobs as his inspiration and motivation. 

Challenges for Ye

Netflix documentary series “jeen-yuhs” follows West as a 25-year-old producer struggling to be accepted as a rapper by his peers.  A hungry and determined West challenges the reality he is presented, with the words his mother Donda West would say to him giving him the confidence to believe in his ambitions. Despite those who chose to doubt him, he successfully established himself as a rapper and his debut album, “The College Dropout,” won the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Ye faced similar challenges when pursuing a career as a designer in the world of fashion. At first, he was not taken seriously and became determined to prove himself. Now, his apparel brand Yeezy Ltd. is currently valued at $4.7 billion.

The Stem Player is another addition to the reality Ye is determined to create. In an industry where musicians get paid a fraction of a penny for their music by streaming services, the release of the Stem Player shows that Ye refuses to accept the reality that’s presented to musicians. Influenced by Jobs and by his history as an artist, Ye encourages creativity and invention by challenging himself and the world to think differently.

The Stem Player is available for purchase at


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