When Billboard released the album charts for the week ending in Feb. 18 on Sunday, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo was nowhere to be found. That may have come as a surprise to fans given how much hype surrounded its release, which included a live premiere at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 11 and an exclusive debut on Tidal on Feb. 14.
But the rollout of the album was one of the most unconventional (and complicated) in recent years. Hours after it was released on Tidal, the download option was pulled and fans could only stream the tracks. West also tweeted that the album was a work in progress and he was continuing to fiddle with the track “Wolves.” (The release also sparked an illegal-downloading craze through torrent sites, according to Torrent Freak.)
So how come the album didn’t crack the Top 10? In a statement to EW, Billboard says it “has been informed that Tidal is not currently reporting streams for tracks on Kanye’s album to Nielsen Music. Therefore streams from Tidal for this title will not contribute to Billboard’s chart rankings at this time.”
An industry source also tells EW that Tidal reports numbers to Nielsen and Billboard unless “the artist does not give permission” and that “Kanye West didn’t give permission to release any of the numbers.”
West has not issued a final streaming version of Pablo — nor has he announced plans for a hard-copy release. When asked about when a final, downloadable version of the album will be available, a rep for Tidal tells EW, “We don’t have any information available at this time.”
West’s absence from the charts this week was a boon for Adele. Her smash album 25 returned to the No. 1 spot, thanks to her high-profile Grammys performance. Meanwhile, Rihanna’s Anti, which was also released exclusively through Tidal, held strong this week at No. 3.
For more burning questions about Kanye West and his new album The Life of Pablo, pick up this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.