iTunes Match Is Ruining The Lives Of Customers And Rappers By Censoring Explicit Tracks



Nothing helps me turn my swag on more than when I’m listening to rap music during my morning jogs. Swimming in a tidal wave of beats fused with magically crass lyrics, I get this uncontrollable tick that slowly mutates into spasms of weird arm movements as I trot along. I think it’s called “crunking”, but I’m not sure. All I know is I need my terribly cheesy rap music to survive my jogs, but today I loaded up songs on my iPhone using iTunes Match and there was a subtle but devastating difference in the tracks I listened to: all the curse words were gone!

iTunes Match had successfully filtered out all the profane and derogatory words by changing the tracks to clean versions of the albums, which pretty much ruined my jog because I was really really wanting to sing along and drop 50 “F-bombs” a minute. Maybe this is just a rare glitch in iTunes Match’s system, but it’s a travesty tantamount to treason in my eyes and I want it fixed.

To be fair to Apple, this weird change only occured on a couple of the rap songs I downloaded to my iPhone from iTunes Match, but there is definitely a problem here. My downloading skills are top notch, but I still double-checked to see if the files in my iTunes Library were the clean versions of those tracks. They weren’t. iTunes Match got something wrong when it scanned my library and matched it up in iCloud which resulted in my favorite rap artists getting censored.

Here are four tracks I can confirm have been “cleaned up” by iTunes Match:

  • Kanye West’s “Hell Of A Life” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  • Kanye West’s “Power” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  • Jay-Z’s “Can I Live” from Reasonable Doubt
  • Ice Cube’s “Jack N The Box” from Raw Footage

All of those songs above have had their obscenities removed and replaced by clean radio-edit versions of the same songs. Which might be great for some, but I need those obscenities, Apple! Give them back.

I know a lot of people have a big bone to pick with rap music and the way it rots the minds of youth and degrades women, but I like it, dang it. I want to hear about how many hoes Jay-Z is pimpin’ on that boat, and just how muthaf**kin cool Kanye West thinks he is. Listening to the clean version of a rap-album is worse than suffering through a Nicolas Cage movie and there’s something enchanting about the way Three Six Mafia can rhyme “shit” with just about any word in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. If I paid for the explicit version of an album, I fully expect to be able to utilize iCloud to have the filth streamed to me whenever my heart desires without it being censored. Hopefully I’m the only person who has had this happen to them, because I get teary-eyed thinking about what life would be like living in a world where N.W.A’s songs sound like they were written by Wayne Brady.

What about you? Have you had any weird glitches with iTunes Match? Tell us about it in the comments.


Update: 9to5Mac says Apple has acknowledged this is an issue, and is working on a fix.

  • Paul Farag

    I noticed this pretty quickly after subscribing to iTunes Match and I emailed iTunes Support about it.  They had me compile a list of every track and album that I noticed the issue on, which took considerable time to do because of the size of my rap collection.  After sending the list they said they would work quickly to resolve the issue.  I touched base with them again last week since it has been several months since I reported the issue, and they still say that they working on fixing it.  

    I personally think this whole thing can be quickly resolved by adding a check box to the Get Info page of the song.  If it’s checked, the Explicit version is downloaded, and if it isn’t, the clean one is.  I imagine it would be incredibly simple for Apple to implement something like this as at least a short term fix.  

  • alexheath

    iTunes Match: Sorry shawty, but it’s not your birthday. We’re not going to party like it’s your birthday

  • Buster

    is that the only rap song you know Alex?

  • BulletToothTony

    Ruining the lives of customers?!? 

    I know, everytime i hear “freak” instead of “Fuck” it totally ruins my day and even my lifestyle.. 

    God i hate Cult of Mac, I only clicked cause MacHash has them which i have asked them to take off their list, all of their tittle are aimed just for clicks with nothing worth reading. 

    I told them that if they kept spoiling Steve Jobs biography by making a new article on every other paragraph i wouldn’t come back again, They kept doing so, so i kept my word until today.. 

    Grow some balls and do some real research, fucking pathetic.

  • hippyfish

    It’s not just rap. This happened on Metallica’s cover of “So What” on the Garage Days album. You beep out the curse words on that song and it’s pretty much one long series of beep after beep after beep…

  • tbsteph

    If your life is being “ruined” because you cannot listen to 50 f-bombs a minute – your existence is shallow indeed.  Might want to expand your horizons a bit.

  • Buster

    I was being sarcastic…I thought that was a bit obvious. But i do think it’s an issue that needs to be resolved.

  • Alonso Sosa

    mine happen to hollywood undead,
    dr, dre
    its so gay 
    i want my music back 

  • hellorabbit

    Clearly you never saw Wayne Brady on Chappelle’s Show.  :)

    I totally agree that rap music loses its charm without the profanity, by the way. 

  • Srose428

    Well until this is fixed, there is no chance I will be activating itunes match.  Censoring ruins music, regardless of the genre.  Music SHOULD be considered art, and left uncensored, just like the rest of the art industry.  The censors allow 16 and prego on MTV, but no explicit tracks??

  • Kevin Gill

    Same here with pretty much all the songs that I have which have words of profanity.  The weird part is that this never was the case in the beta stages of iTunes Match.  All this automatic censorship started few months ago, shortly after iTunes Match became publicly available for all to take part in.  This definitely needs to be fixed.

  • Jon Schickedanz

    I’m not sure if any of you are artists, or creative content producers, but this should send a chill down your spine. Who is Apple to determine what is acceptable content? If you’re going to buy a piece of art then I want what I bought, and not what Apple had determined it thinks it knows better. It is no different if you bought a book and B&N blacked out the cursing from anything Hunter S. Thompson had written which raised profanity to high art. I don’t know a single American who wouldn’t bristle at this if it were to happen in the analogue world. How about if the Met painted over the exposed breast of Picasso’s the Dream, or added color to his Guernica? You can do that all you want if you own it as a private person, but the artist’s vision is what I’m paying for.
    You may not like Jay-Z, but some would argue (me being one of them) that it is artistic expression, whether it’s effective or affective for you is another matter altogether. The only way we as a free society can judge is through your wallet. Like it or not Everyone you listen to is unliked by someone, and if they were put in charge of the world for 10 minutes you’d be pretty pissed.
    I’m boycotting Match till this ends. I’ll keep buying full Redbook audio versions as well. Art matters.

  • prof_peabody

    These stupid “clean” versions of songs shouldn’t even exist, or if they do, they should be labelled what they are “Christian.”  Only in America.  

    Most songs are fine and those with “risqué” lyrics are labelled “explicit.”  There is clearly no reason for a third category of “clean,” other than the fact that if you go through and look at the items labelled this way, you’ll find out right away that these are basically songs intended for Christians.  

    In other words, they are not only not explicit, they are sanitised selections for those still living in the last century and who think that sex out of marriage is “way out there” or that even the mention of drugs or sex of any kind is something to be forbidden.   

  • Buster

    Apple isn’t censoring songs because they don’t like them. iTunes Match incorrectly identifies some songs as “clean” versions and puts those in the cloud. Apple’s not being evil here, it’s just a bug.

  • sdotbailey

    YES! I noticed the same thing this weekend. I was getting ready for my game, getting all up in my zone with some Eminem and Mobb Deep and I noticed that words were missing. I was beyond pissed and then read that it’s not isolated. It’s happening and a thread on MacRumors had a guy talking with a level 2 tech at Apple support. Hopefully they resolve this because I, like you, need every word of these songs!

  • BrandonSLM

    They even replace the album covers with censored versions.

  • Jonathan Bean

    Is there a company statement on this policy??

  • Kvnptrck11

    Psychological warfare. Hearing other people swear helps decrease one’s anger issues…that’s what I tell myself anyway

  • weid

    i am on apple’s side. 

  • Paul Farag

    Not that I am aware of, I am just going on what iTunes Support told me

  • bizsumpark182

    Yes! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one to have this issue. I first discovered it while listening to She Wants Revenge a couple weeks ago.

  • Leonardo Alonzo

    You leave Nicolas Cage alone, you monster! He did nothing but provide a good time for those of us who enjoy his acting. I don’t pick on people who love explicit rap lyrics. The least you could do is not soil his good name.

  • Gustavo Santana

    Pretty much all my Eminem songs got censored. I’m also having problems with the alphabetical listing of artists on iOS, artists that starts with “R” on the letter “S”, others that starts with “O” showing on “P”, and so forth

  • Brandon Dillon

    I almost thought your anti-American self left this blog. Figures that you are still lurking around like the disease that you are.

    Not everyone wants to hear the words, and Christian or not, most quality parents don’t want their kids hearing it.

    Not sure if you’re doing your usual trolling (judging by the American attempted slandering, I’m assuming you are), or if you’re just really ignorant.

  • Millard Fillmore

    People shouldn’t be surprised that bad things happen when you let strangers go through your private stuff.

  • Hemlocke

    I had the entire CD of The Black Album show up in the “clean” version on Match, but surprisingly enough, Tha Carter IV was not censored. Insane.

  • 5imo

    Just tried to replicate it with ‘power’ as mentioned, no luck! I’ve got the good version via iTunes match

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    Overreact much?

  • 5imo

    It dose actually along with violent games your less likely to enflict violence on others or be angry unless your 12

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I agree, how does this ruin anyone’s life?

  • Jeroen Jansen

    iTunes Match can’t find many of the already uploaded songs… kinda sucks. 

  • Buster

    what was funny was that it was just a few songs on that album. there were some songs on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that were the edited versions and then some that were explicit. 

  • stack

    Another affected track:

    Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Recognize

  • Brian Rowe

    Same issue with The Black Album.  I’ve had a case number on this one for a week, now.

  • Bob Forsberg

    Could there be other cloud services in the world where you can hear all the F-bombs you want?

    I’m pleased to know there is one where my kids can surf the iTunes store and get songs where the bottom 1% doesn’t dwell.

  • hisshadow

    Good Odin’s Raven. Your inability to get your fill of gutter talk is ruining your life? Kill yourself.

  • CharliK

    Curiousity. These tracks that you have. did they have the explicit tag on them that comes with purchases music. 

    Or were these rips. 

    If the tag was missing then that might be the reason for the ‘clean up’. The waveforms would be so similar the system wouldn’t be able to tell which one it was. And when it doubt, the system would likely default to the clean version to make sure some kid didn’t get the one swear words in it. 

  • CharliK

    It’s their store and their service. So Apple can totally make that call. The same that Borders, Barnes and Noble, the local grocery can choose not to call Hustler, Akon or whatever they wish to not carry. 

    and if that bugs you, don’t shop there or use their services. 

  • disqusted_and_maladjusted

    My friend, no disrespect to you at all, but has there EVER been a company statement on ANY bug/error/glitch other than AFTER it reaches major media stations, gets proven by the scientific method, then flooded across each and every major and minor Apple/iTunes news site, along with the “old school” media (TV, newspapers) — so that they have no CHOICE but to answer to it? That’s the only way I’ve ever seen Apple address an issue. I’ve never once seen them handle anything “like a man” and just go “OK, we tested out the problem reported, and we were able to duplicate it, and can confirm it. We will be diligently working on a fix and issue a resolution as quickly as possible.” (and then actually do it, BTW) The day that company acts in such a responsible manner, it’ll be my dying day, because I may have a heart attack or a stroke purely out of shock.

    Mike Myers: 80

  • disqusted_and_maladjusted

    What about using the Parental Controls that they so heartily incorporated into everything? Both at the iTunes and iOS level… If you’re able to look at my screenshot, with highlighted area… you’ll notice the option that says (checkbox) “Restrict explicit content”  and below, “Restrictions apply to sharing and the iTunes store”. So, by logic, if I have all of that UNCHECKED… then the inverse would be true: “Do NOT restrict explicit content”, aka — download the motherf—-n’ explicit version unless I tell you not to!

    It is the PARENT’s responsibility to safeguard and watch their children and their access to what they deem inappropriate. It is NOT APPLE’s responsibility to safeguard a 30 year old man (me) from someone saying sh*t or f*ck! I’ve heard them/said them all a million times before. Now I’ve gotta listen to watered down, f*cked up audio tracks with skips, silenced parts, or whatever asinine way they chose to censor their tracks.

    Sorry dude. Not taking it out on you, I’m taking it out in my REPLY to you, but AT APPLE, gd man I hate that company. I wish they didn’t make such cool gadgets or I’d tell them to go take an ass full of it.

  • disqusted_and_maladjusted

    It’s called “hyperbole”, and it’s a writing technique used by… writers… much like the writer of this article… in order to MAKE AN IDEA/STATEMENT more poignant! So why don’t you do some research and learn about rhetoric and delivery/persuasion in an article made to do just that!? It hasn’t literally ruined anyone’s life. It has a lot of people pissed off, though. Adults don’t like to be treated like children, protected from “bad things in the world” when we’ve already seen them all and experienced them all for ourselves. I don’t need my music censored for me, I don’t need anything censored for me, that’s why the very first thing on the Bill of Rights is freedom of speech/expression, among other things. Americans are just ignorant and don’t realize or even care that their own government is slowly taking away your constitutional rights, by the day. Gun control, censorship, allowing multi-billion dollar corporations send their little “suck what you have to, give them anything they want for the vote” little lobbyist peons to do the unholy biddings of Congress reps… so that big Pharma can provide the results of their SELF-ADMINISTERED FDA TRIALS as proof that their newest drug is A-OK safe! (the drugs that will send the elderly/sick that desperately need these medicines into living in poverty because it’s $300 a month, PER DRUG)… because the profit margin is not in the hundreds of percent, but THOUSANDS of percent. Costs them 2 cents to make a pill? Costs the consumers $350 for 30/a month of them. Oh yeah, have you heard about cigarettes? They kill 1 out of every 5 people, every single year. More than alcohol, homicide, illegal drugs, suicides, vehicle accidents + several others… COMBINED. Yet the goverment lets them push their carcinogenic dope to millions… while the drug that they actually CALL dope… has ZERO documented deaths attributed to it. I don’t even smoke pot. I just live in reality and can see past THE SURFACE and understand that WHAT PEOPLE SAY isn’t always what they TRULY MEAN. Try considering the concept. Here’s a review:

    hy·per·bo·le? ?[hahy-pur-buh-lee]
    noun Rhetoric. 1. obvious and intentional exaggeration.2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”From, to cite my reference.Yeah, I just got heavy on that ass, but you shouldn’t have opened your ignorant mouth and insulted the author, the site, MacHash for supporting them… you’ve pissed ME off, reading your bullshit call-outs… so next time just keep your gaping maw full of man sausage as usual, and not allow for any of that type of stupidity to exit. Some things are better left unsaid. Probably everything in your mind– my guess…

  • disqusted_and_maladjusted

    Finally, thank you! An intelligent, logical and well-assembled reply that hits the nail on the head. I couldn’t have said it any better, myself. I must agree with you in the absolute fullest and have the very same concerns. Thank you for *contributing* something of intellectual and moral value to this thread. I was about to pay the $25 for the Match service until I heard about this asinine garbage. I’ll be keeping my money from Apple, since Apple would be keeping “artistic expression” from me. I value that expression and the freedom it was founded upon too much to support this.

    I am also one of those who is a proponent of the “Redbook” (read: physical, CD… tangible) copy. There’s something comforting about having that physical disc, the liner notes, the physical possession of the art in whole… not some “ghost” copy that some corporation or software can arbitrarily decide that I no longer own, or can no longer obtain a copy of a song that I have paid for! Amazon, for one, only allows/allowed you to download your purchased MP3 ONE time (disregarding downloading it to their “cloud drive” or anything purchased previous to the existence of this cloud storage). I have attempted to download an MP3 or two from them that I literally FOUND via the INVOICE FOR THAT MP3, showing my account number and the charge! Are they serious? Let me answer that semi-rhetorical question– YES! It’s “semi-rhetorical” because anyone in their reasoning, logical mind would assume that I was being facetious and that the whole scenario that I just detailed was a joke. I’m afraid not.

    Thumbs up to you, sir… and much respect for your display of literacy and a welcomed backing by relevant metaphors and educated references. Much better than its antithesis, above… spouting convincing remarks such as the closer — “grow some balls … something something fucking pathetic”. Somehow… yours was somewhat more potent. It’s hard to be certain what makes the difference, such a shallow contrast; it’s difficult to tell the two apart, to be honest. NNNNNNOT. Haha…

  • disqusted_and_maladjusted

    What? It’s incredibly difficult to translate your comment… seriously. I will try to reconstruct it– but damn, man… you really, really butchered that.

    “It does, actually; along with violent games, you’re less likely to inflict violence on others, or to be angry, unless you’re 12 years-old.”

    Despite the communication issue, I tend to agree with the two of you… and so do many others. Passive expression of violence or anger, I believe, is an extremely effective outlet for people of all ages to vent frustrations and seething, indignant feelings. That’s why heavy music or rap music came to be what it is– it took something so purely negative and transformed it into EXPRESSION in an artistic way, rather than a violent or hateful one.

    Depending on your choice of music, to SCREAM is such a primal release of emotion… a release of emotion that’s “not acceptable” in day-to-day life… yet in, say, metal music… it’s perfectly acceptable; further– it’s encouraged! Profanity is the same concept; it’s an expression of negative emotion through passive means… through your voice/vocals instead of your fists.

    There’s a secondary beautiful quality to this… it’s that vicarious release that the listener is afforded via the music/vocals. If we’re pissed off… and he/she is pissed off on the song we’re listening to… we’re on common ground– we’re both fed up with this or that, etc, etc. It’s a wonderful, theraputic thing.

  • disqusted_and_maladjusted

    Let’s enjoy the irony in your comment– seeing as though your inability to stifle your hateful, impetuous cacophony, taking time out of your day to do nothing more than suggest that others commit suicide… is clearly an issue of greater concern than someone’s need to get their “fill of gutter talk”. Regardless… you just satisfied his quota, I believe… as “KILL YOURSELF” is pretty much gutter talk if I’ve seen it. To be honest, it looks to me to be more like projected self-hatred. Likely you hate yourself and want to end your own life. If you need help, I’ll be glad to yield the ax… provide the razors, shotgun shells, some length of rope… whatever your fancy happens to be. It’s no trouble; trust me the pleasure would be all mine! To help you exit this world, your wretched carcass, slumped against a wall, piss-covered, intestines spilling over and about your lacerated abdomen… carved wide and glistening with pulsing luminescence that shines bright from your latest copy of guy-in-guy frantic, animalistic smut… like two heaving dogs, caught in a wave of spastic convulsions. The DVD that I’d found, while curiously investigating the remnants of your pitiful life… cranked to the highest volume, placed on REPEAT, so that your family can discover your dirty hidden secret at the same time they discover your revolting, exposed viscera. — There’s no way that’ll make it past moderation. LOL. It was enjoyable while it lasted. I don’t enjoy people telling others to kill themselves, unless they’re willing to do it, themselves. Stupid asshole.

    To the exclusion of “His Shadow”, enjoy your day!

  • hisshadow

    Thanks for the TL;DR. I’m sure the three weeks of effort to learn the meaning of “cacophony” was well worth it. Now you can kill yourself.

  • abdul smith

    happened to me, i reported immediately, and KEPT reporting as i discovered new songs (almost daily) that were censored. i have a 19,000+ song library. I’m 34. i’m from newark nj. i grew up on hip hop. needless to say, a sizeable chunk of my library was made utterly useless to me. cant tell you how frustrating it is to put an album like kanye’s MBDTF on your iphone for your morning commute, get on the subway, start listening, only to have a few of your favorite songs with weird/awkward pauses in the middle of them because your album that you paid your money for has been replaced with a scrubbed version. after 3+ months of itunes support telling me they were working on it without me seeing any end in sight, i demanded a refund, and they capitulated. i’ve gone back to listening to my own library the traditional way, outside of the cloud. i’m now having serious issues trying to get music onto my phone now. not sure what’s in the itunes match code, but it’s just not the same, even 2 weeks after i’ve turned itunes match off on all my devices.