When Kanye announced the release of his long-awaited tenth studio album Donda, it wasn’t hard for fans to feel a hint of disbelief. Kanye is known to delay and push projects back ad infinitum, so hearing any new music seemed like an unlikely occasion. Yet, on July 22nd at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Kanye premiered what appears to be his new album, complete with features from Lil Baby, Pusha T, Don Toliver, and more. But instead of a straightforward release that Friday, last-minute changes appear to have delayed the final product.
That weekend, reports popped up suggesting that Ye was in fact camping out at Mercedes Benz Stadium finishing the album. The rapper, clad in his all-red outfit from Thursday night, was spotted at a Major League Soccer game at the stadium days after the premiere. A representative for Mercedes Benz Stadium confirmed that West was indeed staying at the arena until he finished the album.
Two weeks later, on August 5th, West reconvened everyone at the stadium for another listening session and livestream for the still-evolving album.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Donda, here’s everything we know so far.
Ahead of the party in Atlanta, Kanye shared a promotional video on Instagram featuring the track star Sha’Carri Richardson, and a new single titled “No Child Left Behind.” Donda was initially believed to be scheduled for a July 23rd release to immediately follow Thursday night’s listening event. Rolling Stone has confirmed reports that the new release date is set to be August 6th.
— 𝐕𝐢𝐜. (@victoriamcbryde) July 24, 2021
Based on what we heard during the live-streamed listening event, Donda features an impressive slate of rappers and collaborators. Lil Baby, Playboi Carti, Baby Keem, Don Toliver, Pusha T, Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Roddy Ricch, Lil Durk, and more.
The album includes several references to Kanye’s impending divorce from Kim Kardashian, with whom he’s been married for the past 7 years and has 4 children. On one song, reportedly titled “Welcome to My Life,” Kanye raps: “Tell the assassins I escaped from Calabasas.” Elsewhere on the album, Kanye can be heard emotionally singing “I’m losing my family,” and another song features what sounds like West’s daughter, North, pleading with him to stay home. Though, while many fans have interpreted Donda as a direct response to Kanye’s divorce, the album also fits in line with his 2019 record Jesus is King in its continued religious influence. The lead single “No Child Left Behind,” features the chorus: “He’s done miracles on me,” and throughout the listening event, Kanye broke out into prayer.
Nike and Apple Music:
Many fans noticed that Kanye’s new album rollout appears to include Nike, a company Kanye famously ended ties with before moving his influential Yeezy brand to Adidas. The promotional video for the album features Nike athlete Sha’Carri Richardson, and in one of Kanye’s Instagram posts, he shares a picture of his outfit, including Nike socks. Another potentially new partnership is Apple, which live-streamed Kanye’s listening event in Atlanta, and which also makes Beats, the advertising partner for Kanye’s promotional video, which is essentially a Beats ad.
Watch The Throne Part II
One of the most talked-about moments from the listening event was at the end when Ye premiered a new collaboration with Jay-Z. In a verse where he both checks Kanye’s past political antics and teases a future Watch The Throne album, Jay offered the night its singular highlight. It also offers a look into Donda’s recording process. Jay reportedly offered his verse the same afternoon as the listening party. At the same stadium where Kanye is right now, hopefully finishing the album.
“Made in the image of GOD, that’s a Selfie” – Jay Z
— Akpraise (@AkpraiseMedia) July 23, 2021
Premiere Part II:
Kanye announced yet another listening party/release party for his long-awaited album, Donda.
The release, which was creative-directed by Demna Gvasalia, will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, August 5th at 9:00 p.m. Tickets go on sale Monday, August 2 at 10:00 a.m. EST at Ticketmaster.com.
Album release 8/5
Mercedes Benz Stadium pic.twitter.com/fT3a2lfJLX
— Def Jam Recordings (@defjam) July 30, 2021
On August 5th, Kanye presented a new version of his album Donda to a crowd at Mercedes Benz Arena in Atlanta. While similar to the first event weeks prior, the presentation included a heightened level of production. Creative-directed by Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, the show had all of the trappings of primetime television. In the lead-up to the live stream, Kanye shared footage from inside the quarters where he’d been sleeping at the stadium. There were outlandish outfits, avant-garde expositions, and quintessentially Kanye-esque vignettes played before the official stream started. The show ended with Kanye suspended hundreds of feet in the air as “No Child Left Behind,” the single previously released via a Beats ad, played throughout the stadium.
— Elliott Wilson (@ElliottWilson) August 6, 2021
The album presented last night included a number of the songs that initially were believed to be on the record, with small tweaks and modifications throughout. The tracks appeared to be sequenced differently from the initial live stream, and there were a handful of new verses added. Young Thug and Kid Cudi added verses to a track being called “Remote” by fans on social media. And there were new songs featuring newly minted NYC heavyweights the Lox, as well as Jay Electronica, Lil Yachty, and Lil Durk.
As of now, Donda is not available on streaming, though a pre-order page on iTunes appears to have been created in the past 24 hours. It appears that Donda will feature 24 songs.
— Photos Of Kanye West (@PhotosOfKanye) August 6, 2021
The premier also ended with Kanye’s long-anticipated collaboration with the clothing brand Gap becoming available for pre-order. Last night, at the end of the live stream, the red puffer coat that Kanye has made a part of his official uniform, a creation of his for the Gap collection, became available for pre-order.
In a post on Instagram, Kanye West announced another event slated for August 26th. This time, West appears to be bringing his Donda listening event to his hometown of Chicago. The flyer posted to Kanye’s Instagram lists Soldier Field as the location for his next event. West’s previously confirmed release date of August 6th proved fruitless in terms of new music, and his August 5th live stream featured a number of new and modified tracks from the original live stream, which took place in July. There is speculation online that West’s new release date is slated for later this month, but nothing has been confirmed by the artist’s team.
CHICAGO — SOLDIER FIELD.
AUGUST 26TH, 9PM.
TICKETS ON SALE AUGUST 20TH.
NOON CENTRAL. pic.twitter.com/2RAK4DUIze
— Photos Of Kanye West (@PhotosOfKanye) August 18, 2021
Ahead of the listening event in Chicago, Kanye’s website was updated with a new product by the audio technology company Kano. The device, a small puck-shaped audio interface, allows users to remix the songs on Donda with various effects. The device appears to come pre-loaded with audio stems of the album. According to the Kano website, the Yeezy x Kano stem player allows you to control vocals, drums, bass, and samples. The device lets users isolate sections of the music, add effects, and split any song into stems. It has Bluetooth and traditional audio inputs, allowing for remixing in any setting. The collaboration fits in line with a continued ethos from Kanye, as Donda remains a constantly evolving project. Pre-orders for the device are online now.
— Kano (@TeamKano) August 25, 2021
In a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court dated August 11th but submitted on Tuesday, August 24th, Kanye West filed to legally change his name from Kanye Omari West to Ye — pronounced “yay.” West’s petition does not include a middle or last name. West, known to push cultural envelopes, listed “personal reasons” as the impetus for the change. If approved, he will join the ranks of musicians like Prince, who legally changed his name to a symbol known as the “love symbol” in 1993. Prince later explained that the maneuver was intended to circumvent his contract with Warner Bros. which he claimed owned the rights to his name. A judge still has to approve Kanye’s request before it becomes officially legal.
Following each of Kanye’s two listening events in Atlanta, it was believed that the album would be released the next day. Fans continue to speculate whether or not the official release of Donda will arrive after his event in Chicago, for which he appears to have constructed a replica of his childhood home in the center of Chicago’s Soldier Field. In an exchange on Instagram, Kanye’s longtime manager Abou “Bu” Thiam said the album would be released the day after the listening party, on August 27. The official release date, however, has yet to be officially confirmed.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional details and information from when it was first published on July 31st.