Kanye West has had a weird year.
He’s dealt with a public breakdown, a tour cancellation, his wife’s kidnapping (somehow we keep forgetting that that happened), and a meeting with Donald Trump—and that was just in the last few months of 2016.
But there’s some good news for Yeezy, as his 2016 album The Life of Pablo just set records by becoming the first streaming-only album to receive a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) platinum certification.
The certification is traditionally awarded to albums that sell one million units, but the RIAA tweaked the rules recently to allow for “equivalent” numbers via streaming. The organization doesn’t break out its numbers, but the takeaway is that the album was popular enough with streaming services to lead the RIAA to conclude that it had sold the equivalent of a million albums.
It’s a landmark moment for streaming music, but it’s been coming for quite some time. In February, Kanye’s protege, Chance the Rapper, successfully lobbied to get the Grammy Awards to change their rules on streaming albums, then promptly won Grammys for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Performance.
“I know that people think independence means you do it by yourself but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here,” Chance said during his acceptance speech.
But award shows are one thing; RIAA designations are quite another.
The RIAA tends to stay pretty traditional, but Kanye’s The Life of Pablo forced the organization to consider a rule change. The Life of Pablo was released as a Tidal exclusive, so it was only available on that service for several weeks.
There are a few caveats, because Kanye did offer the album as a download on his website for $20. Still, 70 percent of the debut earnings were due to streaming, and Billboard reports that The Life of Pablo was streamed more than 3 billion times worldwide.
Although this is a major milestone for Kanye, it’s nothing new in the context of his career. His debut, The College Dropout, was certified double platinum, and he has additional platinum certifications for Yeezus, 808s & Heartbreak, Graduation, Late Registration, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He also earned a platinum certification for Watch the Throne, his collaborative effort with Jay Z.
But “The Life of Pablo” might be slightly more impressive, given its unusual release.
Kanye continued to tinker with tracks after putting it on streaming services, adding and removing parts, separating songs, and even adding an entirely new song (“Saint Pablo”) months after the album’s official release.
That led the Chicago Tribune to note that “The Life of Pablo sounds like a work in progress rather than a finished album.”
One California man even filed a class-action lawsuit against Tidal and Kanye West, claiming that Kanye tricked consumers into buying Tidal subscriptions by making them believe that The Life of Pablo wouldn’t ever come to other services.
Still, the controversy didn’t slow down the streaming, and Kanye can now add another platinum record to his accomplished discography.