The peculiar timeline of Kanye West’s new album “Donda”

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An invitation to the second listening party for “Donda” at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo courtesy of GOOD Music

Josh Gordon, Writer

It’s been just under two years since we have heard from rapper Kanye West. On Oct. 25, 2019, the world was shocked to see a brand new image and style from West. The album “Jesus Is King” was released to the world, full of hip-hop, mixed with gospel, opera and much more.
Since the release, except for a few of West’s takes on Sunday Services (where he would transform modern day music into gospel with his own choir,) he has been relatively quiet. This changed in the summer of 2020 when he began tweeting. As the world knows, Kanye and Twitter have a very interesting relationship.

West began to promote an album titled “Donda,” for the late Donda West, his mother. This soon led to the album’s release date of July 24, 2020. As release time came, Kanye did what many fans did not see coming: he disappeared. The album was not released, he didn’t post on any social media and nothing came from Kanye or his team.

Absolutely no explanation was given after possibly the biggest let-down of West’s career. He in fact, avoided the subject at times. Kanye fans were left with “Jesus Is King,” and the hope for a new album.

Almost one year later on Sunday, July 18, 2021, fans were excited yet skeptical to see podcast host Justin Laboy tweet about “Donda.” In the tweet, Kevin Durant is shown, appearing moved to the point of tears. Fans felt revived and immediately began theorizing about what the album could possibly entail.

This was soon addressed by a very intimate friend of West and fellow rapper, Pusha T, who posted on Instagram what appeared to be an announcement for a listening party for Donda. What fans did not understand was why it was at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. This was answered, as tickets for the general public went on sale soon after, and sold out quickly.

The first listening party featured West standing in the middle of the stadium, simply walking around while random tracks from the album played. Through the following events, viewers could see progression on the album, with new tracks, new features and new sets for the listening party. The second event was essentially a repetition of the first, with some slight changes to the album.

The third “homecoming” event featured a reconstruction of West’s childhood home in the middle of Soldier Field in Chicago. He walked around the porch, with controversial artists DaBaby and Marilyn Manson also standing around. Many fans were disappointed, musically, by the event. It had appeared that Kanye had removed Jay-Z on popular track “Jail,” and instead added DaBaby. This led to backlash from many Twitter users, which may have led to Kanye eventually adding “Jail pt. 2,” DaBaby’s version, to the album.

The listening parties ended up being a large success for West and his team. Each event consecutively Apple Music livestream records, with the final listening party topping 5.9 million total viewers. Each event sold out tickets ranging from $20-$200, with resale tickets going up to $400.

As each listening party came around, fans prepared themselves for an album release shortly after. Expectantly, after each event, fans were led to complete disappointment. After the “homecoming” event, fans were not met with a release, even after several promises from West’s team that it was without a doubt dropping.

Disappointed fans were lucky enough to wake up on Aug. 29, 2021, to “Donda” being released on all platforms. Release took place at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which is highly irregular for major album releases. However, without any question, fans dove right in. Just to add to the general odd nature of the album, West claimed his record label released the album without his permission. You can stream “Donda” now on Spotify and Apple Music.