Kanye West releases new album, Donda, following sporadic rollout

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Following the release of his 9th studio album “Jesus is King” in 2019, Kanye West immediately went back to the drawing board and began new music. In July 2020, the Chicago-born rapper announced his 10th album “DONDA: WITH CHILD” on Twitter along with a tracklist that included 17 tracks. The title is a tribute to his mother, the late Dr. Donda West who passed away in 2007 following a procedure that went wrong. However, in typical Kanye fashion, the album was not released on the date that was given via Twitter.
After his late and unsuccessful entry in the 2020 Presidential Race, West went back to working on new music; previewing new music throughout the year. Reports started circulating that West was hosting a private listening party in Las Vegas on July 18. The singer-songwriter has a history of delayed albums. In 2016, West released “The Life of Pablo” after a number of delays, name changes, and cover redesigns. Fans aren’t strangers to his abnormal release schedule. Days after the Vegas private gathering, tickets began popping up online of a reported listening event at Mercedes Benz Stadium, selling out within the hour. On July 22, Apple music hosted the event where West, donning a red bubble coat, Red Yeezy Boost 1050s and a beige mask hiding his face, danced around the stage while his album played in the background.
Reports surfaced of not only a second listening party to be held a week later but that the 44 year-old rapper had taken residence in Mercedes Benz Stadium where he would be finishing the album. Leading up to the listening event, there was a 24 hour livestream of Kanye’s daily routine while staying inside the stadium. West’s activities included recording, editing, mixing, working out, sleeping and even cutting another person’s hair. The listening party came around and it was much more like a classic Kanye West performance. This event included backup dancers dancing in circles around West who had brought out his bed that he kept in the room he stayed in at the stadium. At the end of the performance, West ascended into the air covered in a pillar of light. Many speculated that this was a metaphor for him trying to get closer to his late mother. The 3rd and final listening party was announced via the artist’s instagram account. The post read “DONDA. SOLDIER FIELD. 8 26 21.”
Unlike the previous two events, which both took place in Atlanta, the third listening party was to take place in West’s hometown of Chicago. West and his mother, Donda moved to Chicago from Atlanta when he was only 3 years old following his parents divorce in 1980. When the third listening party rolled around, there was a replica of his childhood home in the middle of the stadium, where West and various artists who contributed to the album hung out on the porch. Guests included Jamaican-born singer, Shenseea, Chicago native and Gangster Disciple JHE Rooga, Westside Gunn from the rap collective “Griselda” and the two most controversial guests of the evening, Marilyn Manson and DaBaby. The performance included the aforementioned JHE Rooga showcasing his song “GD Anthem” in connection with Kanye’s campaign to free Gangster Disciple founder and fellow Chicago native, Larry Hoover as well as West entering the replica home and being set on fire before walking out and being extinguished. The show concluded with West’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian coming out in an all white wedding dress and Kanye removing his mask before the two shared a warm embrace.
On the morning of August 29th, the long-awaited project had finally arrived. It included features from Jay-Z, Marilyn Manson, Lil Baby, Dababy and fellow Chicago native Lil Durk and JHE Rooga amongst many others. In the early hours of September 4th, Toronto artist and Kanye West despiser, Drake leaked a song that featured both West and Atlanta-born rapper Andre 3000 called “Life of the Party” on his OVO radio show where West takes shots at Drake. Andre 3000 released a statement that day that he had no intention of getting in the middle of the lyrical back and forth and said he just wanted to make good music with a meaning.