Music

Kanye West Releases New Album 'Donda' After Third Listening Event

After a year of personal ups and downs — and a month delay after the first announced release date — Kanye West is making his return to the music game with the release of his new album.

Donda, named for Kanye’s late mother, is the rapper’s first album since 2019’s Jesus Is King. It dropped on Sunday following a third listening event, this time held at Soldier Field in Kanye’s hometown of Chicago. 

Donda first premiered on July 22 at a sold-out listening event at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium, and was also livestreamed globally via Apple. However, when it came time for the album to be released, it never actually hit streaming platforms.

Kanye then reportedly began living at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium while working on finishing the album. The enigmatic artist shared a snapshot from his living quarters at the stadium as he continued to refine and complete the work.

On July 30, Kanye teased the new Aug. 5 release date on Instagram with a photo of what appeared to be a loading/buffering icon.

Soon after, Kanye posted a photo — sans caption — showing a mattress, a small end table and some shoes in what appears to be a white void, seemingly teasing the second listening event and album release.

Kanye first announced the initial listening event and shared his new song “No Child Left Behind” in a commercial for Beats By Dre, starring track star Sha’Carri Richardson, which aired during Game 6 of the NBA Finals on July 20.

Kim Kardashian surprised fans when she attended the first listening event with her and Kanye’s four children, as well as her sister, Khloe Kardashian. Kim’s presence at the event was the subject of a lot of chatter on social media — particularly during the song “Welcome To My Life,” which features lyrics many believe are about his divorce.

Of course, Kim’s most talked about appearance was her seemingly recreating her wedding with Kanye at his third listening event, where she took the stage in a wedding gown. 

Fans were also shocked by a surprise verse from JAY-Z — with whom Kanye had previously been feuding — in which the 4:44 artist raps, “This might be the return of the throne.” The line sparked speculation that the pair might soon be working together on a follow-up to their collaborative 2011 album Watch the Throne.

Last July, Kanye dropped the album’s title track, a moving song also named for his mother, in honor of what would have been her 71st birthday. “Donda” featured Kanye’s mother reciting the lyrics of KRS-One’s “Sound of da Police,” before the rapper added a few verses of his own. 

“The Devil is using you, confusing you / Our job is to understand who is who,” he raps. “Righteous indignation in this nation / We gonna start a revolution in this basement.”

He went on to directly address his late mother, singing, “Mama, I need you to tuck me in / I’ve done made some mistakes and they rubbed it in / I know you and grandma had enough of them / Why I gotta be so stubborn then?”

July 12, 2021 would have been Donda’s 72nd birthday. She died in 2007 from a heart attack after suffering complications from plastic surgery. Kanye has been candid in the past about how the loss has affected him. 

“If I had never moved to LA, she’d be alive,” he said in a Q Magazine interview in 2015. “I don’t want to go far into it because it will bring me to tears.”

Meanwhile after a social media hiatus, Kanye returned to Instagram in late July, sharing a photo of himself wearing jewelry with the names of his four children he shares with Kim: North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm.

Kim filed for divorce from Kanye in February, though the split has seemingly been amicable so far, with the couple reuniting mid-July to take their kids to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. 

And a source recently told ET that Kim and Kanye “are on great terms.”

“Although they are going through a divorce, they still spend time together alone, or with their kids,” the source said, adding that “they make it a priority to meet up.”

See more on the rapper in the video below.

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