In my early 20s, I dated a woman (“Kim”) for a little over a year. We met at the Gap—she was working there and I entered the store while she was working there to pretend like I was buying a “sweater for my sister” with the hope that she’d ask if I needed any help (she did)—and we went on our first date three days later. After a few more relatively decent dates, she introduced me to her mom (“Ms. Johnson”).
Ms. Johnson took a bit of a liking to me. So much so that she invited me to join the family for the Sunday brunches she’d host twice a month. A breakfast foodophile myself, I happily accepted. “Great!” she said. “And now you’ll get to try my world-famous eggs!”
As I’d come to learn, Ms. Johnson was very proud of these eggs. So much so that she considered them her second-greatest achievement next to her daughter. She’d even joke that, in her youth, men would travel for miles just to eat her eggs. Which I really, really, really, really hoped wasn’t a double entendre.
But there was one problem: Her eggs sucked. They weren’t the worst eggs I’ve ever eaten—that title goes to Ritter’s Diner in Pittsburgh—but nothing was special about them. They were just … eggs. And they were consistently runny. So not only were they average, but they were also wet. But Ms. Johnson took so much pride in them that for two Sundays a month for an entire year, I’d force them down my throat. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I hated them, so I’d just disguise the taste by using them to make bacon sandwiches. (With tons of salt and pepper.)
Kim and I eventually broke up for reasons I honestly don’t even remember now. But I do remember how happy I was that I didn’t have to pretend to enjoy Ms. Johnson’s soggy eggs anymore.
Anyway, I’m sharing this story today because the feeling I felt after Kim and I broke up is the same feeling I had last week when hearing that Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo would be available on Spotify. Like hundreds of thousands of others still on Kanye West Island, I downloaded Tidal moments after learning TLOP would stream there exclusively. But since TLOP is now on Spotify, I never have to listen to Tidal again. Which is a shame because, like Ms. Johnson’s eggs, I really wanted to like Tidal.
When Jay Z held his Super Friends press conference a year ago to introduce Tidal as a streaming service that would benefit artists, I wasn’t as skeptical as the general sentiment about this service seemed to be. Yes, the press conference was a study in obnoxious ostentatiousness. And it seemed strikingly, almost intentionally, tone-deaf. (If you’re trying to convince the public we should care that the other streaming services take advantage of artists, it’s probably not the best idea to use multimillionaire artists as an example.) I wasn’t turned off by that, though. I didn’t expect Jay Z to sway me. I expected Tidal to. I was interested in both the mission behind the service and whether it would provide access to music unavailable on Spotify.
So I downloaded it. I even decided to grade my experience on a curve. If it gave me even 80 percent of the satisfaction Spotify did, I’d allow it to replace Spotify as my primary streaming service. I was ready and willing to eat the eggs. But after a week of randomly dropped signals, two- and three-second-long pauses between songs (which can be irritating when expecting the music to blend) and counterintuitive search and stream functions, I had enough of the soggy eggs—er, Tidal—and went back to Spotify. I knew that some of these issues could apparently be rectified with an upgraded subscription, but I didn’t—and still don’t—believe they should have had to be. It’s like buying a drink and being charged extra for the ice.
The only thing that would bring me back was if it had the exclusive rights to an album I really wanted to hear. Which is what happened with TLOP. I came back hoping things had changed—wishing someone had finally told Ms. Johnson she didn’t need to whip her eggs with a half-gallon of milk—but the same issues that plagued Tidal last year still existed. But I gritted my teeth and stuck it out because it was the only way I’d be able to listen to “Father Stretch My Hands” in the whip.
Today, however, I feel like an albatross has been lifted from my neck. A soggy albatross with the audacity to ask me to pay double for it to be less wet. I tried, Tidal. I really did. But I can only eat so many Tidal sandwiches before I start getting sick.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at email@example.com.