Donda, the tenth studio album from enigmatic rapper/producer Kanye West, has finally arrived after more than a month of high-profile listening events, uncertainty, controversy, and chaos surrounding its release.
While we at Live For Live Music largely dropped off of the meaty yet exhausting Donda listening party beat following the initial event in Atlanta, West went on to host a second event at the Georgia stadium on August 5th—another purported but subsequently missed album release date—and a third at Soldier Field in Chicago this past Thursday night.
The Chicago listening event, livestreamed via Apple, was stacked with outlandish production value and plenty characteristically puzzling exhibitionism. In addition to rebuilding his childhood home—and subsequently setting it and himself on fire—West also “fake remarried” Kim Kardashian and brought out a pair of highly controversial music industry figures, accused sexual abuser Marilyn Manson and seemingly unrepentant homophobe DaBaby, for seemingly no good reason other than to spark vitriol and generate buzz.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity of chaos and constructed hype, Donda arrived on streaming platforms on Sunday morning. The completed album, which runs an expansive 108 minutes in length spread over 27 tracks, is rounded out by “pt. 2” alternate versions of four Donda tracks including “Jail”, allowing for both the version featuring Jay-Z that created buzz at the first two listening events and the version with DaBaby and Manson from the third event that had seemingly replaced it.
There’s plenty of commentary out there on the album and its outlandish rollout if you care to go looking. We just wanted to pop in to let you know that the album is finally out and ready to do some talking of its own. Finally.
Listen to Donda by Kanye West below.
Kanye West – Donda – Full Album
Kanye West Draws 40,000+ To Atlanta For ‘Donda’ Album Listening Party, Doesn’t Release Album
Kanye West drew tens of thousands of fans to Atlanta, GA’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday night for a listening party to celebrate the impending release of his 10th studio album, Donda. The album is named for West’s late mother, Donda West, who passed away in 2007 at age 58.
The listening party, promoted by Live Nation and streamed globally by Apple Music, comes as one of the largest music events to take place in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.
Tickets to the event quickly sold out following a vague announcement earlier this week. While the stadium has a full capacity of up to 75,000 for NFL games, the configuration used for the Kanye West listening party placed the cap at roughly 42,000.
With the field cloaked in a white covering, West arrived in a spotlight at the 50-yard line in his red coat and full-face mask and hit “play,” not saying a word but rather dancing and strolling around as nearly 50 minutes worth of new music bellowed through the P.A.
While the album was scheduled for release on Friday by G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam Recordings, it has not appeared on streaming services as of publication time.
— 333 (@kwekuananse0) July 23, 2021
An official track listing also remains a mystery, though the songs played during the listening party included guest appearances from a slew of rappers including Pusha T, Lil Baby, the late Pop Smoke, and even Jay-Z. While Kanye and Jay-Z have worked together on numerous classic albums, the two have been on lukewarm terms in recent years.
In his verse on the final song of the night, likely titled “Heaven and Hell”, Jay seems to reference the sources of that tension with Kanye—including his polarizing views, frenzied public episodes, failed run for president, and affinity for Donald Trump. In his verse, Jay raps what sounds like “I told him stop all of that red cap, we goin’ home” and references their acclaimed 2011 collaborative album (“This might be the return of the throne”).
— Martin Soaries (@marsoaries) July 23, 2021
It is unclear whether the set of songs played at the Kanye West Donda listening party comprises the final version of the album. Videos have surfaced of West working on the album at the stadium ahead of the show, while Jay-Z’s longtime producer, Young Guru, noted that Jay had recorded his verse earlier that afternoon.
Kanye West & Mike Dean finishing up DONDA backstage at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium today! pic.twitter.com/1ePwmtqk7e
— On Thin Ice (@OnnThinIce) July 21, 2021
Representatives for the mercurial rapper/producer have been characteristically quiet about their plans for Donda. If West’s past treatment of announcements and release dates is any indication, it could be a minute.
In the meantime, check out the only officially released audio from the album, a clip of a track called “No Child Left Behind” as heard on a new Beats by Dre commercial featuring sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, known as America’s fastest woman, who was recently disqualified from the 100-meter event at the Tokyo Olympics after she tested positive for marijuana.
Sha’Carri Richardson & Kanye West | Beats Studio Buds
[Video: Beats by Dre]
This story is developing.